What is the Responsible Jewellery Council?

Posted by Clare Izaguirre on

Aquila Jewellery is on a sustainability journey, actively learning about how to improve our business operations and working relationships so that our products truly represent our beliefs and values.

With this journey comes learning about the driving forces behind sustainability in the jewellery industry, like the world renowned Responsible Jewellery Council.

Join us as we discover who the RJC are, what they do and how Aquila Jewellery is learning from their expertise.

Just before we start

Sustainability is a big project for us in 2023 and we’ll be keeping you updated on all the changes we make. The biggest reveal is that we will be looking to work more closely with skilled artisans recognised by the RJC in the near future (which means another little trip for our founder in the new year!).

But first let’s get into finding out more about the RJC.

Who are the Responsible Jewellery Council?

Formed in 2005, the Responsible Jewellery Council is a globally recognised organisation and standards body focusing on the production of responsible jewellery, throughout the entire supply chain.

From precious metal miners to jewellery sellers, it unites companies in their mission to provide responsible, sustainable business without harming people or the planet.

What does the Responsible Jewellery Council do?

The standards set by the RJC enable each company to apply responsible business practices into their daily operations and management systems with a focus on responsible supply chains and business ethics.

They have created a number of standards for which they stand.

  • The RJC 2019 Code of Practices (COP) cover everything from primary materials to metals and gemstones.
  • The RJC 2017 Chain of Custody covers how products and materials have been sourced, processed and traced.

In order to become a member, prospective members must be audited to ensure ongoing compliance with the RJC’s standards.       

The result? Through independent assessment, scientific advancements and innovations, members can make responsible decisions resulting in better outcomes for the environment and the humans who live within it.

What does the RJC mean for the supply chain?

For the humans, plants and animals involved in the jewellery and watch making supply chain it means that sustainability and human rights are at the forefront of all operations.

Be it fair wages and working conditions as well as ethical precious metal mining practices and protecting wildlife, the RJC standards and practices always ensure regulations align with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Due Diligence Guidance and the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights.

But how can sustainability be measured?

With so many variables, reliably measuring sustainability and other long term goals is a huge challenge. 

However, the RJC has MEL, a monitoring, evaluation and learning programme that studies the impact the organisation has. 

MEL is divided into four parts:

  1. Roadmap

This is an official statement of what short term and medium impacts RJC intend to make, the strategies they intend on using and how well these things are achieved, over time. The Roadmap is being created for the decade, with an emphasis on the five pillars of sustainability development: People, Plant, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships.

  1. Performance monitoring

There is regular data collection from members. This data is tracked and analysed so that conclusions can be drawn regards to progress in the above Roadmap.

  1. Research

The RJC undertakes an in depth analysis of the areas of the supply chain covered by their standards and draws conclusion about progress in the Roadmap.

  1. Reporting & Learning

The performance monitoring results are reported on internally and externally in order to be able to best inform RJC’s approaches, effectiveness and impacts.       

RJC write a yearly Progress Report to summarise the work of the RJC from impact to changes moving forward.

Aquila Jewellery’s sustainability journey

We’ve made quite a few changes since we started in 2019. As we’ve grown from humble online Etsy store to fully fledged shop in Brighton, we’ve also learnt how to make some sustainable changes to our materials, which in turn makes  a big difference to the planet.

We use recycled sterling silver

We've been using recycled sterling silver from our end of lines, faulty pieces, samples and surplus pieces for several years. We also purchase recycled silver and work with it too. This small pledge makes a huge impact.

From saving animal and plant lives, ecosystems and beyond to reducing toxic waste and energy and C02 emissions, the recycling of sterling silver makes a huge impact on plant, animal and human life. 

Recyclable natural packaging 

Our packaging is plastic free and fully recyclable (it also happens to be rather lovely looking).

We use organic cotton bags or uncoated kraft boxes with a pouch in neutral tones.


Aquila Jewellery’s sustainable aims

As a jewellery brand which is travel and nature inspired, it is only right that we work with a supplier who is a member of the RJC list. That way, we and our customers can be confident in knowing our jewellery is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the out.

Truth be told, it’s complex and challenging making truly eco-friendly jewellery. But we’re determined to keep making small changes for the planet around us.

Join us for more updates soon!

How do you feel about sustainable jewellery? Do you think the jewellery industry is doing enough? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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