Gem and jewelry associations respond to tanzanite controversy

Late Friday, major gem and jewelry associations responded to allegations made in the November 16 edition of the Wall Street Journal linking the tanzanite trade with the Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network. The statement reads as follows:

Today Jewelers of America (JA), the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), the American Gem Society (AGS) and Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA) issued the following joint statement:

We take very seriously the recent report in The Wall Street Journal alleging a link between the overseas trading of tanzanite and the outlaw al-Qaeda network. This report presents entirely new information not previously known within the industry. If any portion of this report is substantiated, the industry will take appropriate measures to ensure that the U.S. gemstone and jewelry industry is in no way tarnished by such criminal transactions. As representatives of ethical jewelers we are determined that our members’ businesses not be conduits for gemstones that-long before they enter the U.S.-are alleged to have been a source of income for criminals and terrorists.

We have already consulted with appropriate federal agencies in Washington, as well as representatives of the government of Tanzania. JA, AGTA, JVC, AGS and MJSA have pledged our full cooperation with national and international efforts to investigate these charges and put an end to any link that may actually exist. If, as suggested in The Wall Street Journal this is in fact a matter involving criminal behavior with links to terrorism, it is clear that the industry could not solve such a problem alone. In light of President Bush’s campaign to cut off funding from many sources for the al-Qaeda network, we urge the Administration to act vigorously on this new report to determine its validity and to pursue remedies as may be appropriate.

As an immediate measure, we are urging our member businesses to adopt purchasing guidelines such as those appearing below or incorporate them into their existing agreements with gemstone and jewelry suppliers and customers.

JOINT ASSOCIATION MEMBER GUIDANCE ON THE PURCHASE OF TANZANITE

Retype the following statement on your company letterhead and share this document with all your tanzanite and tanzanite jewelry suppliers asking them to work with you on this issue by signing the agreement.

Dear [Tanzanite Vendor]:

As a member of [Jewelers of America, American Gem Trade Association, Jewelers Vigilance Committee, American Gem Society, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America], we fully support a policy of not purchasing tanzanite from any sources connected with any criminal or terrorist activity.

Since it is not currently possible for trade buyers in the United States to verify the legitimacy of origin of tanzanite, they must work closely with their gemstone and jewelry suppliers to ensure that they do not knowingly purchase tanzanite that may be in any way tainted by its connection with terrorists.

Accordingly, we are asking you to commit that you will not knowingly or intentionally sell or buy any tanzanite with known links to illegal activity and that, to the best of your ability, you will undertake reasonable measures to help prevent the sale and purchase of tanzanite with known links to illegal activity.

Yours very truly,

Signature of XXX Business

Your signature below indicates that you have read and understood the statement above and agree to comply with its intent.

Signature of XXX Tanzanite Suppliers