Francesco Roberto, one of the pillars of the international gem and jewelry industry, died on Sept. 12 after a long illness, according to an announcement by CIBJO, the World Jewelry Federation. He was 81.
“Francesco was a very close and dear friend to me personally, as well as to many of my peers in the Italian and international gem and jewelery business,” said CIBJO president Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri in a statement. “During his many years in the trade he served the public selflessly, contributing endlessly of his time and expertise.”
Roberto’s gem and jewelry industry career spans six decades. At 20, he worked for an Italian company dealing in imitation and synthetic stones and cultured pearls. In 1975, he became the president of Capellaro & Company S.P.A. In the early 1990s, the company merged with the international Schachter-Namdar group, now Leo Schachter, one of the biggest diamond corporations in the world. While he did reduce his work schedule in recent years, he never retired.
Roberto also participated in the development of the “UNI rule,” the Italian nomenclature for gemstones, and served many years on the board of directors of the Confedorafi, the umbrella organization for the Italian jewelry industry.
Roberto was active in or held leadership positions with many trade associations during his lengthy career, including CIBJO, the World Cultured Pearl Organization (WPO), and the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA).
In 1993, Roberto became president of Federpietre, the Italian association of gemstone dealers. He was also a member of the international Carat Club and of the Technical Committee of the Milano Chamber of Commerce. For several years he held a seat on the board of directors of the Associazione Orafa Valenzana (AOV), the jewelry association of Valenza, where he was head of the Disciplinary Committee.
“People like Francesco Roberto are hard to find, and it was a privilege to have known him and to be his friend,” Cavalieri added.