CIBJO President Talks Sustainability at Sustainable Pearls Forum in Hong Kong

CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri talked sustainability in the cultured pearl sector on June 21 in Hong Kong as part of the Sustainable Pearls Forum. Cavalieri urged attendees to recognize a comprehensive approach to address economic, environmental, and social responsibilities such as using resources efficiently so that business can prosper long term. Attendees and other presenters included Jacques Christophe Branellec of Jewelmer, Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls, and James Paspaley of Paspaley, among others.

Once gems and minerals are removed from the earth, they cannot be returned, unlike pearls. “We possess the means and knowledge to initiate the natural growth of new products within an economically viable period of time,” Cavalieri explained.

“The essential importance of economic sustainability must be appreciated by the business community…sometimes at the expense of short-term profit,” he continued. “When a consumer buys an item of pearl jewelry, he or she should feel that they have invested in our planet’s long-term survival, rather than having taken advantage of it.”

He reminded attendees of the drastic drop in Tahitian pearl prices between 1995 and 2012, when corporate Polynesian farmers thrived and mom-and-pop producers struggled, overproducing in an effort to compete, moves that ended in a devaluation of product in terms of quality and prices paid. Also a topic of discussion: the possibility of a Universal Pearl Grading System, which is under consideration by the CIBJO Pearl Commission.

“We realize that it is not an easy task, and that a variety of opinion exists…. But we are patient and believe that such system will enhance transparency, and, as a consequence, consumer confidence,” he added.