Rubies and Myanmar
While some of the world’s best rubies are mined in Myanmar (Burma), Tiffany does not purchase any gemstones from the country due to concerns about ongoing human rights violations and a lack of transparency. This began in 2003 when the U.S. forbade the importation of products from the country. In 2008, the passage of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act strengthened the original act, prohibiting the import of jadeite and rubies from Myanmar, even if the gemstones were processed in, and exported from, another country.
In 2016, efforts toward democratic reform in Myanmar resulted in the U.S. lifting those sanctions. Prior to determining whether we would purchase gemstones, we felt it was important to engage directly with Myanmar’s mining sector to encourage the adoption of international best practices. We spent more than a year actively exploring whether we thought it was feasible to responsibly source Burmese rubies with a range of stakeholders—including local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), national and local governments, and the local mining and gemstone sectors. However, in the midst of our work, violence erupted in Myanmar. Given the severity of the crisis, we decided to suspend our work in the country. Even though U.S. regulations have changed over the years, we have not purchased rubies or other gemstones from Myanmar since the original act was adopted in 2003.
Pictured: Brooches with rubies from Mozambique.
Our Stance on Coral and Ivory
We value biodiversity and consider the impacts of our materials sourcing on wild species and ecosystems. We are determined to protect species such as coral and elephants, which are the cornerstones of healthy ecosystems but have historically been threatened in part due to the jewellery industry’s use of coral and ivory.
In recent decades, climate change has exacerbated the threats to coral; and some scientists say that 90% of coral reefs worldwide are at risk of disappearing by 2050. In 2004, we made the principled decision to stop using coral in our products. Since that time, we have advocated for further action, including testifying before Congress in 2008 on the importance of protecting coral. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation complements our Company’s efforts and, since 2000, has provided more than USD $26 million in grants to support the creation of marine protected areas and related research and awareness-raising efforts.
We also take action to protect threatened wildlife. We eliminated the use of ivory in our jewellery decades ago because poaching and habitat loss have put elephants at grave risk of extinction. We also use our voice to publicly advocate for the protection of elephants, rhinos and lions. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s efforts in this area began in 2008 in supporting the protection of wildlife corridors in Botswana and neighbouring parts of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. In 2017, we launched our Tiffany Save the Wild collection, from which 100% of profits are donated to the Wildlife Conservation Network for the protection of elephants, lions and rhinos. We have raised more than USD $10 million through the collection.
Sustainable Material Guidance
Building on Tiffany’s rich legacy of responsible sourcing, we have committed to source all key materials according to our next-generation Sustainable Material Guidance by 2025. We have begun developing this guidance, which we expect to roll out in 2021, for key materials used in our products, packaging and store interiors.
Our Sustainable Material Guidance addresses considerations ranging from human rights to biodiversity for key materials, from pearls and wood to leather and silk, among other materials. This Guidance places an emphasis on third-party certification standards developed through multi-stakeholder processes and monitored through third-party audits.
In partnership with Tiffany’s suppliers, the Sustainable Materials Guidance will support progressive improvement over time.
“We value biodiversity and consider the impacts of our materials sourcing on wild species and ecosystems.”
Our Leather Sourcing
Though leather products are a relatively small part of our business, we are committed to tracing the source of the leathers we use. In 2020, we were able to trace the source of our leathers at least to the tannery level for our Home & Accessories and jewellery product categories. We remain thoughtful about what types of leather we use and don’t use and where our materials originate.
Our Pearl Sourcing Practices
We source natural and cultured freshwater and saltwater pearls produced by a variety of mollusk species around the world. Healthy mollusks and clean water help improve the quality of pearls. The growing demand for pearls has raised awareness about the potential environmental risks of pearl farming, including improper disposal of nutrients, chemicals and waste. Some pearl farmers have taken measures to protect the environment by using clean water practices. We believe environmental and social stewardship is an important aspect of responsible pearl farming and, where possible, we choose to source directly from suppliers and pearl farmers that share our beliefs. In 2021, we created our Coloured Gemstone and Pearl Source Warranty Protocol to enhance our engagement with suppliers to advance traceability and improve social and environmental impacts in these key sourcing areas.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation further supports our Company’s commitment through the funding of research on responsible pearl farming and through the protection of coral reefs, which provide nutrients and habitat for healthy oysters.
“Our commitment to responsible sourcing extends to our catalogues and our iconic Tiffany Blue Boxes and bags.”
Tiffany’s Iconic Packaging
Our commitment to responsible sourcing extends to our catalogues and our iconic Tiffany Blue Boxes and bags that carry our clients’ treasures. Beginning in 2004, Tiffany started requesting third-party certifications for our blue bags, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certification—the premier standard in responsible forest management. In 2014, we began requiring all new global print suppliers to have FSC® certification.
In order to achieve our goal of removing commodity-driven deforestation from key supply chains by the end of 2020, we have developed guidelines on sustainably sourcing wood and paper, with an emphasis on FSC®-certified and recycled content which assisted us in accomplishing this goal.
Learn More About Our Sustainability Efforts