In April, Cecilia Gardner stepped down as president, CEO, and general counsel of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, the group she headed for 18 years. Here, she talks about whether the Trump administration will continue to regulate the industry, why she supports the Jewelry Industry Summit, and the role of women in the jewelry business.
You have been outspoken about the lack of women in the industry. Is that still a problem?
I was surprised when I first joined the industry at the lack of women leaders. I cannot tell you how often during my career in the jewelry industry I found myself the only woman in the room. Not much has changed. And it should.
We now have an administration in Washington, D.C., that’s less inclined to regulate. What do you think will happen to some of the supply chain initiatives that have taken place?
It is hard to predict. The current administration is extremely unpredictable. However, I don’t see a lot of energy on the part of the industry to undo what has been done. I think the industry genuinely believes the regulations to which we have been subject are good. A lot of industries try to get rid of the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] Guides. Our industry works hard to improve them.
You are passionate about the Jewelry Industry Summit to promote sustainability and ethical sourcing in the industry. Why do you think it’s important?
Everyone has a responsibility to the people who extract your products. When I first started working on the summit, I got a note on our Facebook page, saying, “Now we have to worry about this too?” Someone posted a [response]: “Yes, you have to worry. The person who brought this product to your countertop is your partner. If your partners are being exploited and you do nothing about it, your business will fail.” So, yes, the people who extract these products are your partners. They are in the same business as you. You have responsibility for them.