Myanmar’s military dominates the country’s gemstone industry, with military-affiliated companies controlling distribution of licensing and permits, and running gem auctions that raise hundreds of millions of dollars. By continuing to use gemstones from the area, campaigners argue, high-end jewellers are, therefore, funding the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by the Burmese military.
The campaign, which is led by SumOfUs and The International Campaign for the Rohingya, has already seen some successes. Cartier pledged to stop buying gems from Myanmar in December 2017, and gemstone exports from the country fell 65% the same financial year.
Now almost 150,000 people have signed a petition asking Bulgari to follow suit and stop sourcing its gemstones from the area. Protests were held, ahead of Christmas, outside Bulgari stores in Bangkok, London, New York, and other cities. Bulgari joined a voluntary boycott of Burmese gemstones in 2007, but began buying from the region again after sanctions were lifted in 2016. The company, which was bought by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE in 2011, has already failed to respond to an 80,000 signature-strong petition on the issue.
Other LVMH brands include Tag Heuer, Benefit Cosmetics and Christian Dior, as well as other designer fashion, cosmetics, wine and alcohol brands.