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Jewelry retail giant Zale Corp. and twelve other firms pledge to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay

Jeweler opposition to Pebble Mine now totals over $6 billion in sales
Dodgy deals
By Earthwork | Anchorage, Alaska, Apr 13 2010

A wave of new jewelry retailers, including the nation’s 2nd largest jewelry retailer, Zale Corporation (NYSE: ZLC), pledged support today for permanently protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale metal mining, including the controversial proposed Pebble Mine.

"The 1,850 Bristol Bay commercial fishing permit holders that we represent want to thank the jewelers who have vowed not to buy gold from the Pebble Mine," said Bob Waldrop, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “This landslide of new jeweler support is a tremendous boost to our efforts to protect this irreplaceable fishery."

The twelve new jewelers, which represent over $US 2 billion in sales in the United States, include retail giant Zale Corp. and independent jewelers Toby Pomeroy, Blair Lauren Brown, Reflective Images, Michaels Jewelers, Security Jewelers, Ingle & Rhode, Alberto Parada, Real Jewels, CRED Jewellery, Open Source Minerals, and Fair Trade in Gems and Jewelry.

“Zale is committed to sourcing gold and other precious metals in a responsible manner. We believe gold should be mined and refined in a manner that protects both the environment and its inhabitants. Therefore, Zale is happy to support, alongside other jewelers, the pledge to protect the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve from large-scale metals mining,” said Gil Hollander, Executive Vice President of Zale Corporation, which has 1,930 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

These jewelers have taken this extraordinary step at the invitation of local Alaskans, who want to protect Bristol Bay's salmon fishery -- the world's largest remaining wild sockeye salmon fishery and the source of roughly 50 percent of the world's commercial supply of sockeye salmon.

“Bristol Bay is a treasure, a jewel in our safekeeping. As we would never think of gambling with our children’s well-being, it is also our responsibility to never let risk or harm befall this rare and beautiful natural treasure,” said jewelry designer Toby Pomeroy. The jewelers join twenty other prominent retailers, including Tiffany & Co., Birks & Mayors, and class ring firm Jostens, who have already vowed not to buy gold from the Pebble mine. The mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay is projected to be the largest in North America, generating billions of tons of mine waste and industrializing important salmon habitat in the heart of the world’s last great wild sockeye salmon fishery. London-based mining giant Anglo American and Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty are partners in the project. The two companies recently announced plans to invest another $US 73 million into the project this year, with plans to submit mine permit applications in 2011.

Because jewelry represents over 80 percent of gold demand globally, retailers are an important and emerging voice against the controversial mine. Altogether the jewelers that have signed the pledge represent a total of over $US 6 billion in annual sales. "The customer is always right, and we expect smart suppliers like Anglo American and Northern Dynasty to listen to their customers. These leading jewelers are just saying ‘no’ to gold from harmful mining in Bristol Bay." said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks. "These jewelers know that shoppers in their stores care that the gold that they purchase doesn't come at the expense of international treasures like Bristol Bay," she said.

More than 60 jewelry retailers and manufacturers have signed on to principles for responsible gold sourcing, as part of EARTHWORKS’ No Dirty Gold campaign.


2008 Retailer Sales  (US$ thousands):

Zale Corporation $2,138,000, Tiffany & Co. $1,547,000, Jostens $807,000, Herff-Jones $532,900, Aurum House (Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, and Watches of Switzerland) $416,568, Helzberg Diamonds $400,000, Birks & Mayors $314,745, Ben Bridge $215,000, Beaverbrooks $161,000, Commemorative Brands Inc. $137,500, JewelMak >$5,000, Security Jewelers $4,000, Reflective Images >$1,000, Brilliant Earth >$100, CRED Jewellery >$100, Hacker Jewelers >$100, Leber Jeweler >$100, Blakes Fine Jewelry N/A, Fifi Bijoux N/A, April Doubleday N/A, McTeigue & McClelland N/A, Blair Lauren Brown N/A, Toby Pomeroy N/A, Michaels Jewelers N/A, Ingle & Rhode N/A, Open Source Minerals N/A, Fair Trade in Gems and Jewelry N/A, Real Jewels N/A, Alberto Parada N/A,

Total >$6,680,000


Bob Waldrop, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, 907-223-1588
Bonnie Gestring, EARTHWORKS, 406-549-7361
David Shurtleff, Strategies 360, 907-230-2368

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