Alrosa Suspends RJC Membership

MajorsApr 04, 2022

Alrosa Suspends RJC Membership

The Russian diamond miner’s membership had been a point of contention, causing major companies to leave the organization.

Alrosa has suspended its Responsible Jewellery Council membership, a decision the RJC board voted to accept. Pictured here is a selection of rough diamonds from Alrosa. (Image courtesy of Alrosa)
New York—Alrosa has suspended its membership in the Responsible Jewellery Council in light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the company announced late last week.

The RJC board has voted to accept the suspension, the organization said in a separate statement issued a few hours after Alrosa’s announcement Friday.

“Due to the current unprecedented realities, Alrosa, as a company that cares for the industry as much as it cares for its mining communities, has decided to suspend its membership in the RJC,” said Alrosa.

The company said it will continue to uphold high standards of responsible business conduct and ethics, describing itself as “one of the major contributors to the sustainable development of this industry.”

“We have always stayed upfront on the sustainability agenda in diamond mining with clear vision as to our responsibilities to the communities and the regions of our operations, as well as how we run our business with our suppliers and clients. Our industry commitments are here to stay, as our full support to the RJC’s mission.”

The Russian company, which is one-third owned by the government, remains under U.S. sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its continued membership in RJC had been a point of contention among members.

Pandora, Richemont and Kering confirmed publicly they were leaving RJC last week, citing the organization’s refusal to cut ties with Russian companies.

Watches of Switzerland did the same in a statement issued Thursday, noting that RJC’s approach to handling the situation “goes against the common values we expect from our industry in response to the situation.” 

And designer Stephen Webster said in a statement he had withdrawn his application to be an RJC member.
“Our brand philosophy is to build a business to be a force for good, and we only look to collaborate with those who embody these same values,” said Webster.

RJC Executive Director Iris Van der Veken has also resigned over the organization’s handling of Alrosa’s membership.

 Related stories will be right here … 

In March, Alrosa stepped down as vice chair of the RJC but retained its RJC membership.

RJC said its board of directors began an independent, third-party legal assessment on March 3 in regard to Alrosa’s membership status.

As new sanctions rolled out in the U.S. and the U.K., more time was needed to complete the review, said RJC.

“We take governance seriously and want to ensure that any action we take is fully supported by law,” said RJC Chair David Bouffard. 

RJC said it needed to ensure it had the authority, as per its constitutional documents, to take action, adding that taking any action before the legal review was completed would have exposed the organization to significant legal risk.

“The board of the RJC understands and respects Alrosa’s decision to suspend its membership and thanks them for their commitment over the last five years,” said Bouffard.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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