Task force works to ensure the integrity of tanzanite

The Tanzanite Task Force, an international organization set up to develop procedures for the mining and trade of tanzanite, has said that it has begun the process to ensure confidence in the precious gem as it moves from the mine to the consumer.

The first step was taken by the organization’s technical working group, one of four committees working to implement Tucson Tanzanite Protocol, a set of guidelines established by the government of Tanzania and other major industry stakeholders to ensure confidence in the tanzanite trade. On Feb. 26, the working group forwarded recommendations for an export certificate, packaging materials, a statement of warranty, a monitoring system, and other procedural requirements to the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals and TAMIDA, the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association.

In addition, Robert V. Royall, U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, met with members of the Task Force steering committee on March 6 to reiterate the findings of the U.S. State Department that there is no evidence that al Qaeda or any other terrorist group is currently using tanzanite sales to finance their efforts or to launder money, or that the sale of tanzanite played any part in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The tanzanite industry was shaken when The Wall Street Journal published a story in November, 2001, alleging that the tanzanite trade was linked to Osma bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network. This story and other stories in the media caused some retailers, including QVC, Zale, and Tiffany, to stop selling the precious gem.

In response to the publicity, leaders representing a variety of organizations met during the AGTA Gem Fair at the Tucson Convention Center Feb. 8 and 9. Immediately following the meeting the Tucson Tanzanite Protocol was announced.

Trade associations representing the international scope of the tanzanite trade have endorsed the document. They include: the Government of Tanzania, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, the American Gem Trade Association, Jewelers of America, and the Jewelers Vigilance. Other organizations endorsing the document include the Tanzania Mineral Dealers Association, the Arusha Regional Miners Association, the Tanzanian Chamber of Mines, the American Gem Society, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, International Colored Gemstone Association, Jewelers Association of Jaipur, and the Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association.