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Cartier boycotts Myanmar ‘genocide gems’, pressure mounts for Signet, Bulgari

Cartier will stop trading in precious stones from Myanmar following pressure from consumers to stop selling ‘genocide gems’.

The International Campaign for Rohingya (ICR), advocates for the Rohingya people, called on its 70,000 supporters to lobby the jewellery brand through text messages, calls and emails.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group from the northern Rakhine State in western Myanmar. Despite having lived in the territory for generations, the 1982 Citizenship Act passed when it was still known as Burma, denies them citizenship. They have limited rights to marry, have children, work, obtain healthcare, and go to school.

According to Al Jazeera, the minority group has suffered murder, rape and the deliberate burning and destruction of their communities at the hand of the army.

Simon Billenness, the treasurer of the ICR, said: “We sent out an alert to our supporters last Tuesday (5 December), and encouraged them not just to sign a petition but also to go on the company’s Facebook page, tweet them, call the toll-free number and register their objections directly. That led to a number of postings on Cartier’s Facebook page [which] generated the response.”

Cartier confirmed the news of its withdrawal with a reply on Facebook, in a statement which read: “Thank you for the interest that you have expressed in Cartier. As part of our continuous review process to ensure ethical sourcing, Cartier has decided to stop purchasing gemstones from Myanmar, which will become fully effective as of December 8.

“Cartier strongly believes in the importance of ethically-sourced materials and more globally in its corporate social responsibility locally.”

Now, the charity is hoping to get more jewellery companies to confirm a ban on the gems connected to the military with similar persuasion. Another alert was sent out to supporters on 12 December, making Bulgari the ICR’s next target.

Billenness said that the campaigners would be in talks with Richemont – owners of Cartier – to find out if the policy would be corporate-wide and spread to brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels.

He went on to say that the ICR had had a conversation with Tiffany where it confirmed that it would also not trade with ‘genocide gems’.

The charity has sent letters of concern to retailers Signet Jewelers, Amazon and Saks Fifth Avenue asking to make sure that the companies are “completely free of Burmese-mined gems in the future”.

The ICR is also hoping to have conversations with trade associations such as the RJC.

Billenness said: “The Responsible Jewellery Council needs to get on top of this issue. What we’re focused on is in the gem extraction, cutting or trading, there isn’t any involvement by Burmese military-owned businesses.

“If a jeweller could certify and show that the gems that they have were free of any kind of military involvement that would be fine.”

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Shekina Tuahene

Shekina is a multimedia journalist who has lived in London all her life. She is an alumnus of University of Greenwich and Brunel. Shekina loves to read, travel, socialise and listen to music. If you have any story or feature ideas, feel free to drop her a line.

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