Edmundo Calhau, 56, Director of IBGM

Edmundo Calhau Filho, International director of the Brazilian Gems and Jewellery Trade Association died Aug. 17 in Brasilia, Brazil, following a battle with cancer. He was 56.

Calhau’s was a familiar face in the industry, not only at Brazil’s semi-annual Feninjer jewelry shows, but his efforts to promote Brazilian jewelry design and the Brazilian jewelry industry helped propel it beyond South America to a place of prominence on the world jewelry stage. Brazil has always been a leading supplier of colored gemstones, but it was under Calhau’s tenure—and through his invitations to editors to visit Feninjer—that the jewelry trade began to see Brazil as a place to go for fashionably-designed finished jewelry, not just gemstones.

Calhau came to the jewelry industry already well-versed in import/export issues, logistics, and business development. Prior to IBGM, he served for seven years as materials director and logistics director for the Brazilian arm of global optical giant Bausch & Lomb, another seven years in the Brazilian Ministry of Industry and Commerce in various capacities relating to industrial and technological development, and in a variety of other positions all relating to business development and engineering. Ironically, his move to IBGM in 1995 was actually a return—he’d worked there earlier in his career establishing a gemstone certification program and developing human resources training.

Calhau was respected and admired by all who knew him as a fine gentleman with a great sense of humor, great kindness, devotion to his family, and keen business instincts.

“Edmundo was more than just a client in Brazil…he was our gracious host, our dear friend and a tireless supporter of the Brazilian jewelry industry,” said Mark Smelzer, publisher of JCK magazine.

Two days after Calhau passed away, so did a 19-year-old American boy named Miles Levin, whose 26-month battle with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a pediatric cancer that attacks soft tissue muscle, was the subject of a self-authored blog. The young man’s battle—and his amazingly positive attitude about life—was an inspiration to both cancer sufferers and non worldwide. He was profiled on CNN.com’s Health page on May 10, and again on Anderson Cooper’s 360 blog on CNN.com. When he died, his mother, Nancy, said in her own post on CNN’s 360 blog that Miles wasn’t afraid of dying, he was afraid of dying without impact. He had no reason to worry on that score.

Calhau may not have been the subject of a CNN report—or even well-known outside his chosen profession—but to the designers, goldsmiths, and factory workers in the Brazilian jewelry industry who’ve benefited from his efforts to grow the industry into an international player, he clearly had an impact that will be felt far into the future. And to the jewelers, journalists, and friends around the world who got to know both the warmth of the Brazilian people and the innovation of its jewelry design, he also had a significant impact. He, too, had an amazingly positive attitude and a steely determination to fight his illness and not let it take him away from what he loved doing most. He continued to attend as many industry events as possible even while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, even joking about losing his hair.

He will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues worldwide.