For Immediate Release: February 22nd, 2008
Jeweler to the stars lags behind in embracing cleaner, greener standards
Washington, D.C. — In the lead-up to the Oscar awards ceremonies in Los Angeles on Sunday, more than 2,000 activists have sent letters and faxes to the celebrity jeweler Harry Winston, urging the company to commit to human rights and environmental standards for sourcing gold and precious metals. Concerns about “dirty” or irresponsible mining practices have already prompted 29 leading jewelry retailers, including Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Piaget Gold to sign on to these standards, which are known as the “Golden Rules.” However, Harry Winston, jeweler to the stars, still lags behind in this regard.
“Surely no celebrity wants to wear jewelry tainted by toxic mine wastes or polluted streams,” said Payal Sampat of EARTHWORKS, an environmental group based in Washington, DC. “We're asking Harry Winston to commit to policies that can help protect people and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mining.”
Gold mining as currently practiced is one of the world's most polluting industries. Producing a single gold ring generates on average 20 tons of mine wastes, which can contain toxic chemicals such as cyanide and mercury. Gold mining has also been linked with human rights abuses and violent conflict in some parts of the world.
Red-carpet stars who have previously worn Harry Winston jewels to the Oscars include Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Renee Zellweger and Queen Latifah several of whom are known for their commitment to social and environmental issues.
Consumers today are increasingly aware of the human and environmental costs of the goods and services they purchase than ever before. Some 100,000 consumers in more than 100 countries have signed on to the No Dirty Gold campaign s consumer pledge, which urges mining companies to provide alternatives to “dirty” gold.
The “Golden Rules” includes practices such as respecting workers' rights to organize, safe working conditions, not harming ecologically sensitive areas, and ensuring that mine wastes are not dumped into rivers, streams and oceans. (More information about gold mining's impacts, and about the Golden Rules, at www.nodirtygold.org)
The jewelry firm Harry Winston Inc. had $20 million in sales in 2007. It is owned by Toronto-based Aber Diamond, a mining company which recently changed its name to Harry Winston Diamond Corp.
EARTHWORKS is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mineral development, in the U.S. and worldwide.