Trust is the pledge which binds Cartier and its customers together in every field, i.e. the quality and provenance of stones, the beauty and originality of the creation, the excellence of workmanship, the level of technical performance, attentive service and, in a world which is increasingly concerned about its future, the management of its social and environmental responsibility.
Cartier’s corporate responsibility policy provides the foundation for the company’s ethical, social and environmental commitments. It dictates the way in which it is committed to working, in a spirit of continual progress shared by all employees and suppliers across all of its product lines, from the beginning to the end of the value chain.
Cartier is known for its jewelry and wristwatches and has a long history of sales to royalty. Founded in Paris, France, in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company remained under family control until 1964. King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as “the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers.” For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, Monaco, and the House of Orleans. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been seen wearing the Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.
For the longest time, there has been an ongoing conversation on ethical mining but a couple of the world’s top jewellers are still failing to ensure their gold and diamonds are mined ethically, despite efforts to clean up the industry’s supply chains, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In a report, HRW analysed the sourcing of gold and diamonds in 13 leading jewellery houses. The report noted that the practices of the 13 jewellers, which together make up around 10% of global jewellery sales, differed significantly and while some companies had taken steps to address human rights risks in the gold and diamond supply chain, others had just relied on the assurances of suppliers.
Cartier responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for information with three short letters about Cartier’s commitment to responsible sourcing and its role in the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). Cartier did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request for a meeting. Cartier has chain of custody for some of its gold and sources an undisclosed percentage of its gold from a small-scale “model” mine in Honduras. The company, however, is heavily reliant on the RJC and its certification system, which has a number of weaknesses.
Cartier waives audits for suppliers that are RJC-certified, the vast majority of their gold and diamond suppliers. On the basis of available information, Human Rights Watch considers Cartier to have made moderate efforts to ensure human rights due diligence.
Cartier’s corporate responsibility policy recognizes a range of international labor and human rights standards and states that the policy “applies equally to Cartier’s supply chain.” Diamond suppliers must be in compliance with the Kimberley Process and the World Diamond Council’s Standard of Warranties. Cartier’s parent company, Richemont, has a more detailed Supplier Code of Conduct, which applies to all of its brands. However, Cartier does not present the Supplier Code of Conduct as a central element of its responsible sourcing policy; it is not even mentioned on its website.
Rather, Cartier emphasizes the central role of the RJC in its approach to responsible sourcing: Cartier’s website and letters to Human Rights Watch focus on the importance of the RJC and Cartier’s active role within it.
Cartier requires all its gold suppliers to be members of the RJC and sources the overwhelming majority of its diamonds from RJC-certified companies.
Cartier also has chain of custody for some, but not all, of its gold. It does not indicate whether it has chain of custody for diamonds. Cartier’s corporate responsibility policy does not mention traceability. Cartier’s parent company Richemont says that traceability is a long-term goal and an area for improvement for all its companies in the coming years.
Richemont’s refinery in Switzerland has developed sources of gold that it says are either certified or will become certified against the RJC Chain-of-Custody Standard, with a heavy emphasis on recycled gold.
Cartier also has traceability for a fraction of its gold, sourced from a mine in Honduras, as described below. The brand appears to rely heavily on RJC standards as a tool to assess human rights risks. According to Richemont’s Supplier Code of Conduct, suppliers are required to demonstrate that they are undertaking human rights due diligence, but it is unclear whether Cartier enforces this provision or considers RJC certification sufficient.
The Supplier Code of Conduct states that where third-party audits of suppliers identify areas for improvement, Richemont’s “Maisons” (brands) follow up with remedial action plans. Under the Code, Richemont also reserves the right to terminate business relationships with suppliers that do not comply with its Code of Conduct. It is unclear whether Cartier takes independent steps to enforce these provisions or considers RJC certification sufficient.
The company is certified against the RJC’s Code of Practices and relies on the RJC auditing process for third-party audits of its gold and diamond suppliers. Suppliers that are RJC-certified do not have to undergo separate audits against Cartier or Richemont standards. Cartier’s policies and approach to responsible sourcing are described annually in Richemont’s Corporate Social Responsibility report
Cartier also sources part of its gold from the Italian-owned Eurocantera mine in Honduras, but does not specify what percentage of its gold is sourced there. Cartier describes Eurocantera as a “model mine” for its high ethical, social, and environmental standards. According to Cartier, the mine uses neither cyanide nor mercury to extract and process its gold. The mine integrates a mid-scale gold mine that produces about two-thirds of Eurocantera’s gold, and an artisanal and small-scale mining community, which produces one-third of the gold.
Cartier buys the entire output of the mine, and refines the gold at a facility in Italy that is solely dedicated to processing gold from the mine. The company has also sourced gold from a Peruvian mine that has been Fairtrade-certified.
Orion and Sirius have recently engaged in conversations with Cartier with intentions to introduce the Fingerprint campaign which would help promote ethical mining. The “Fingerprint” campaign which was launched in September intends to focus on raising global awareness on the importance of sustainable gems mining practices in Africa.
Many jewellers can do more to find out if their gold or diamonds are tainted by child labour or other human rights abuses. An increasing number of customers want to be sure the jewellery they buy has not fuelled human rights abuses and jewellery companies owe it to their customers and the communities affected by their business to source truly responsibly and allow public scrutiny of their actions.