November 30, 2008

No Blood Rubies from Burma

Guide to your “Secret Shopping”for Human Rights in Burma
The U.S. Campaign for Burma is calling for action!
During this holiday season, ask jewelry retailers about the origin of the rubies they are selling.
Step by Step: How To Approach Jewelry Retailers, and politely get the information we need.
1. Find a jewelry store in your area. All this takes is a simple Google search or thumbing through the yellow pages. Large nation wide jewelry stores are best, as changing in their policies will have the biggest impact.
2. Enter the jewelry store and express that you are interested in looking at rubies (always be honest — if you are not interested in buying a ruby, then do not say that.) While we are using the term “secret shopping”, there is actually nothing secret about this we want to be straight forward and honest.
3. When asked by the retail clerks what you are interested in, tell them that you want to look at a ruby (this could be a ring or a necklace). It is best to have a specific item in mind, like a ruby ring, necklace, bracelet, or set of earrings.
4. After you are shown the specific piece, find out as much as you can about the ruby, including the colors, the shapes that the rubies are cut in, and ask whether it is a “good” or a “bad ruby” in terms of quality. You might want to learn a bit too, asking how you tell the difference between a good ruby and a bad ruby. Also ask about the entire piece and not just the stone.
5. Ask the retailers about the origin (specifically, where was it mined) of that particular ruby. You might say “Do you know which country this ruby came from?” If they say “No” (which is very possible since most chain store clerks may not know), then ask them politely, “can you please find out for me?”
6. If the rubies are from Burma, please let them know that you do not support the purchase of items from Burma: “I’m sorry, but I don’t support rubies from Burma because of the human right abuses of the military regime.” [my bold] It is not often that someone tells a retail jeweler that they do not support some items for a human rights reason, so your comment is likely to be passed along to management.
7. Please remember not to confront or challenge the retail clerk directly about the fact that the future import of rubies from Burma is illegal. At this time, we are only trying to compile a list of retailers that sell Burmese gems. It is not often that someone tells a retail jeweler that they do not support some items for a human and may be trying to circumvent complying with the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act. While not especially likely, it is also possible that some jewelers are doing this inadvertently. Once we have the list we will write to the retailers who have not complied and give them a chance to change their practices before we take action. Individual actions are more likely to produce change when they are conducted as part of an organized campaign.
8. Please report your findings to us. Email U.S. Campaign for Burma’s Campaigns Coordinator, Mike Haack at Report all your findings. We want to know both which retailers are stocking Burmese rubies and which are not.
9. We will keep everyone updated on what our next actions will be to make sure that all jewelers respect the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act.
Take Action!

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