How Ethical Jewelers Can Use The Upcoming 60 Minute Segment Exposing “Conflict Gold” In The DRC To Their Advantage
~ By Marc Choyt, publisher
Here, I offer my own, alternative letter.
60 Minutes is about to publish damaging information about our gold supply chain just in time for the holiday season. Here is a way for you to gain competitive advantage over those other jewelers in your market who are following the advice of the mainstream.
Instead of hedging or denying the issues about dirty gold, embrace it, exploit it and publicize it. Explain how you are different from all the other jewelers in your market areas who do not care enough about the human and environmental atrocities associated with dirty gold.
Start by reading my article published in Modern Jeweler last January. It outlines a complete approach to selling to the customer who is concerned, that the making of the jewelry they are to give as an expression of love or commitment doesn’t involve atrocities against the environment or people.
Secondly, use this dirty gold as a “Blue Ocean” marketing opportunity which has four basic questions. Blue Ocean Strategy is a powerful book which describes how you can differentiate yourself from the competition and enter a completely new market. These questions are adapted from that book.
1) Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?
Many want to hide the unsavory aspects of how business is conducted in the jewelry industry. But a Blue Sky approach would have us differentiate ourselves by eliminating anything that disguises, hides or obfuscates practices within our industry. We want to differentiate ourselves by being upfront and having full disclosure. Then we want to advertise where we are supporting fair and ethical practices.
2) Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
The goal is to completely phase out all jewelry made from precious metal that cannot be traced directly to its source. Simply speaking, we need to boycott any supplier who cannot provide 100% traceability with their gold and begin also to move toward fair trade, traceable gems and diamonds.
We do this by investigating the practices of those we purchase from. The goal is to replace our suppliers who do not adhere to fair trade, environmental standards.
We sign the “No Dirty Gold” pledge and publicize our stance, contrasting it to companies in your market area who are not good corporate citizens.
We reduce, any way we can, practices which are harmful to the environment in our own company. Practicing strong environmental standards is an easy way to differentiating one’s company from the competition.
Some of these changes can only take place when we garner support of the market and by clearing out old inventory. But there is low hanging fruit.
For example, some gems are available right now on a fair trade basis and they are reasonably priced. Numerous suppliers are manufacturing with recycled precious metal, and diamonds can be purchased from companies such as Finesse that practice beneficiation in Africa.
3) Which factors should be raised well above the industry standards?
Any action that moves us toward fair trade and ecologically responsible production and socially responsible business should raise your company above industry standards, which is very easy to do these days.
4) Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
Fair trade, ethically produced jewelry, as a market category, is new. This movement is supported by a growing network of suppliers and manufactures who want to align personal ethics with business practices.
I understand that it is difficult to make this type of transition, but by following even part of these plans, you will turn the 60 Minutes segment to your advantage. More importantly, you help to create a world that is based on respect for human dignity and the environment—a world that our children will be happier to inherit.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.