No confirmed link between tanzanite and terrorism

U.S. and Tanzanian officials told jewelry industry representatives that a link between the tanzanite trade and terrorism has not yet been confirmed. But authorities added that their investigations are continuing.

Cecilia L. Gardner, executive director of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). Douglas Hucker, executive director of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), of and Matthew Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America (JA), met in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the U.S. and Tanzania governments on Wednesday, January 9 to discuss the alleged connection between the tanzanite trade and terrorism. The purpose of the visit was to learn if any substantiation of the allegations had been developed and to offer the industry’s assistance.

The three met with the head of the National Security Council’s (NSC) Counter Terrorism Task Force. The industry representatives were told that the NSC has not developed any information to substantiate the allegations of a link between the trade in tanzanite and terrorist organizations, but an investigation is continuing.

The industry representatives also met with Tanzania’s ambassador to the U.S. to express the jewelry industry’s concern over the allegations and to offer the industry’s assistance in developing a means to provide consumer assurance of the integrity of the product. The Ambassador also confirmed that no link between the tanzanite trade and terrorist organizations had been substantiated.

In addition, the delegation met with authors of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) study of the mining boom in Tanzania. This study, released in March 2001, analyzes the mining industries in Tanzania and how natural resources can contribute to economic development in Tanzania. The resources include diamonds, tanzanite, other colored gemstones, and gold. The concept of introducing methods of better controlling the integrity of the tanzanite trade, an essential element of the USAID report, was discussed.

“We were happy to meet with the government on this issue in a proactive manner,” said Gardner, Runci and Hucker in a joint statement after the meetings. “Our purpose is to protect the industry and ensure that the government is aware we condemn any such activity. We as an industry stand ready to do whatever we can to stop this trade, should it become known that there is a definite link.

“We urged the government to continue to investigate these allegations to determine their validity,” they added. “Further, the Tanzanian government was urged to create tighter controls on said trade in Tanzania.”

The jewelry industry has been proactive in dealing with the tanzanite situation. Industry organizations issued a joint statement in November pledging to work with government officials to ensure that the U.S. gemstone and jewelry industry is in no way tarnished by criminal transactions. Along with the statement was a Vendor Guidance statement for retailers to ask their tanzanite suppliers to sign.