CIBJO Addresses Sustainable Practices

Sustainable practices was the topic during the second day of the CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, conference, being held in Cape Town, South Africa.

Two panel discussions featured 16 speakers from companies and associations representing all aspects of the jewelry supply chain. Each panelist gave a 10-minute speech detailing the efforts his or her organizations were undertaking to address responsible business practices.

Cecilia Gardner of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee began the discussion by outlining the importance of following existing laws and regulations in all CIBJO member countries, including those covering the Kimberley Process and anti-money laundering.

Large diamond, gold and platinum mining company and association speakers included John Hall of Rio Tinto Diamonds, Martin Leake of BHP Billiton Diamonds, Steve Lenahan of AngloGold Ashanti, and James Courage, of Platinum Guild International, representing platinum miners. All detailed their organizations’ extensive commitments to sustainability, through longstanding internal programs as well as membership in the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices.

Wilson Mutagwaba of the Mwadui Community Development Partnership, Dar-es-Salaaam, Tanzania, spoke about a pilot project there to study the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector, aligned with the Diamond Development Initiative.

Colored gemstone manufacturer Eric Braunwart, Vancouver, Wash., spoke about three fair trade initiatives his company has started in Mexico, Africa, and Australia; while ICA ambassador Rui Galopim de Carvalho spoke of ICA members’ commitment to sustainable practices in the coloured gem supply chain.

Representing retailers were Greg Valerio, CRED Jewelry, London, UK; and three U.S. retailers: Bev Hori, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Seattle, WA; Vicki Cunningham, Cunningham Fine Jewelry, Tulsa, Okla.; and John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, Wisc. Valerio spoke about his efforts to sell ethical jewelry products using the fair trade model. Hori, Cunningham, and Goodman explained the growing interest in responsible business practices among their U.S. customers, their commitment to learning where their jewelry is sourced, and their membership in the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices.

CIBJO Treasurer Marc-Alain Christen spoke of the Swiss jewelry and watch industry’s new ethics code, which its members pledge to follow.

Several other speakers addressed lab practices, including Don Palmieri, GCAL, New York, who spoke about his lab’s enhanced guarantees; and Tom Cushman of the Institute Gemmologie de Madagascar, who spoke about other artisanal and small-scale colored gemstone initiatives he oversees in Madagascar, as well as a new ethical gold mining initiative there.

Michael Rae, chief executive officer of the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices, updated the CIBJO delegates about the progress his 71-member group is making towards the implementation of its Responsible Practices Framework, with third party monitoring due to begin in January 2008.