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The Hidden Cost of Jewellery: Human Rights Watch

2 min read

The Hidden Cost of Jewellery: Human Rights Watch

I have always had this lingering thought that countries with valuable natural resources are being the most abused. And today’s panel was another confirmation of that thought.


Thursday 8th February. Today was the launch of the 99-page report by Human Rights Watch , “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry: Human Rights in Supply Chains and the Responsibility of Jewelry Companies” that scrutinizes the sourcing of gold and diamonds of 13 major jewellery and watch brands.

We all gathered in a room at the Goldsmith’s Centre, near Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter. In the panel discussion, moderated by journalist Afua Hirsch, we had:

  • Juliane Kippenberg and Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch
  • Greg Valerio MBE, Fair trade gold campaigner, activist, and jeweller
  • Farai Maguwu, Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Zimbabwe
  • Edward Johnson, Responsible Jewellery Council

And, it was painful…

Painful to hear the stories that we were told, specially from Farai Maguwu in Zimbabwe. Painful to hear the words that are associated with my trade:


Vague assurances
Superficial code of conduct
Cosmetic assessments
Imprisonment of the local community
Artisanal miners attacked by dogs until they die
Human rights violations are normalised
7 miners killed for protesting against abuse
Disconnection between the positivism in the room (London) and the conditions on the ground (Zimbabwe)
The diamond pit felt on top of Thomas, a 10 year old boy, who die later in the hospital

Yes, really. This is the reality of the jewellery industry right now. And that is why I choose to do things differently, to source from traceable small scale miners and to know my source.

And what can you do? Read the report, campaign, ask questions and know your source. On top of the list, DO SOMETHING! even a little thing could change the way things are. Let’s work on the butterfly effect.


With Love, Arabel





arabel lebrusan
arabel lebrusan

Arabel Lebrusan is an artist, designer and pioneer of the ethical jewellery movement, with almost two decades of industry experience behind her. She is a fount of knowledge when it comes to responsible sourcing, sustainable manufacture, and the preservation of traditional craft. Her engaging blog posts range from personal accounts of once-in-a-lifetime sourcing trips to helpful tips for buying and wearing jewellery and opinion pieces on pressing industry matters.