CIBJO opens 2006 annual congress with speeches and honors

CIBJO, The World Jewellery Confederation, opened its annual congress Monday at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, Canada. In his opening speech, CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri called on the jewelry community to invest in instilling a fine jewellery culture in younger consumers, so as to ensure the long-term health of the market.

“Ultimately, the future growth of our market depends upon the instilling of a fine jewelry culture in the consuming public,” Cavalieri said. “We cannot assume it will always be there, and especially not in markets where consumerism is a relatively new phenomenon. Young people today are seduced by a great number of different industries to spend their non-essential dollars. Travel, electronics, and entertainment appear to attract them more than a well designed and valuable item of jewelry.”

He continued, “We know that the jewelry buying experience is habit forming. But if consumers don’t get their first taste early on, they are less likely to become big jewelry spenders in later years, when they are more established and more affluent. If there is a message that I would like you to walk away with today it is that we should not only seize the day, carpe diem, as my Roman forefathers would say, but we must seize the future, and for that we need to invest time, effort and a great deal of thought.”

Some speakers chose to focus on the subject of corporate responsibility. Hanifa Mezoui, a senior official in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations, quoting UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, told delegates: “Let us choose to unite the power of markets with the authority of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations. Let us ensure that prosperity reaches the poor. Let us choose an enlightened way forward towards our ultimate, shared goal: a global market place that is open to all and benefits all.”

Speakers also referred to the expected release in December of the movie “The Blood Diamond,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is a fictional account of a diamond smuggler in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. World Diamond Council Chairman Eli Izhakoff and Louise Prior, a communications manager at the Diamond Trading Company, outlined the campaign that has been devised to provide information to the industry and jewelry buying public about that diamond industry’s efforts to eradicate the conflict diamond trade.

In other opening day action, Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, was elected an Honorary President of CIBJO. The title was bestowed during the congress’ gala dinner by Cavalieri and Matthew Runci, president of CIBJO’s Ethics Commission, and it followed a unanimous decision by the CIBJO President’s Council to award Izhakoff with the title, in appreciation of his life’s work on behalf of the industry.

“This is indeed a special moment, for it represents to me the appreciation of my peers throughout the jewelry industry,” Izhakoff said. “We have achieved much, but there is a great deal to be done—first and foremost educating our own community about the Kimberley Process and the System of Warrantees, which together create transparent system of ensuring a transparent and untainted diamond trade from the mine to the market. CIBJO is an important ally in this mission.”

The 2006 CIBJO Congress marks the 80th anniversary of the organization, which serves as an umbrella body for national and international jewelry associations from around the world, and from all sectors of the industry. The congress in Vancouver, which is being hosted by the Canadian Jeweller’s Association, has attracted more than 300 delegates to the Western Canadian city, a record number in CIBJO’s history. The congress is scheduled to close on Thursday.