JCK Show: It’s okay to sell Tanzanite

The Steering Committee of the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols reiterated on Thursday afternoon that there is absolutely no link between tanzanite and terrorist activity.

But committee members Doug Hucker, executive director of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA); Richard Krementz, president of Krementz Gemstones; Cecilia Gardner, executive director and general counsel for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC); and Matt Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America (JA), acknowledged that some apprehension still surrounds the issue.

Even the suggestion that the terrorist link was true had retailers worried, Runci said. “There’s a risk in continuing with a product with this doubt,” he noted. “Reputations are at risk,” added Krementz.

According to the committee, the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols are being moved forward, not because there was ever a terrorist link, but to put in place a chain of warrants that will prove to everyone in the supply chain, from mine to consumer, exactly where each gemstone has been and guarantee that no illegal activity is linked to their tanzanite.

Gardner noted that the checks and balances already in place in Tanzania are better than anyone expected. “They could use a little strengthening of law enforcement in the mining area itself,” Gardner said, but the Tanzanian government is addressing that issue. The government also plans to fence the entire area and make sure everyone who is supposed to be there has proper identification cards.

“We have addressed what needs to be done in Tanzania,” said Gardner. “We need to reach out to importers [in other countries] to get them to participate with the system, which also means they have to refuse to accept tanzanite-send packages back-that do not have those written warranties from Tanzania.” Gardner is hopeful that the first warranties in the chain will be in place by the end of this year.

At Thursday’s press conference, tanzanite dealers were concerned that goods already in inventory would have no written warranty. “There is a de facto warranty,” said the committee, noting that State Department representative Michael O’Keefe has stated unequivocally that there is no link between tanzanite and terrorism.

“We feel very positive about what has happened so far, but we also realize that we need to continue to put in place all of the protocols,” said Gardner. “And we’re not done yet.”

For more information on the Steering Committee’s visit to Tanzania, see the July issue of JCK magazine.