QVC Inc., an international leader in electronic retailing, has become the first major retailer to stop sales of tanzanite, based on a Nov. 16 Wall Street Journal article on possible links between tanzanite smuggling and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.
QVC’s suspended all worldwide sales of tanzanite jewelry on its Website, TV programs, and retail outlets in the United States and abroad immediately after the article came out, Bonnie Clark, vice president of public relations, told JCK. Based on the article’s allegations, “we felt we had to be pro-active on this,” she said.
QVC is working with government agencies to get more definitive information. How long the suspension of sales lasts “depends on what we learn,” says Clark.
Specifically, QVC pulled 120 different pieces of tanzanite jewelry (retailing from $39.50 to $5,000) and canceled outstanding orders. The company declined to say how much business it does annually in tanzanite jewelry. However, all jewelry lines (including gold) account for 31% of its programming.
QVC, based in West Chester, Pa., does more than $3 billion in business annually. Founded in 1986, it broadcasts live 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, and introduces 300 new products every week to viewers in 79 million U.S. households, including 96% of all U.S. cable homes. It also reaches more than 35 million homes in Germany and Great Britain through satellite broadcasting. In 1996, it launched its Internet shopping site.