CIBJO Withdraws From Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices

CIBJO, The World Jewellery Confederation, has left the new international Council of Responsible Jewellery Practices, only four months after it helped found it.

CIBJO’s defection was followed by the two leading diamond associations, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association.

Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO’s president, said in a letter he is worried about the possibility CRJP may become “an exclusive club of mainly larger players” of the global jewelry industry, excluding “many thousands of small and medium-size players in the jewelry, gemstone, and precious-stone businesses.” That is something CIBJO “cannot support,” Cavalieri said.

In an Aug. 31 letter to the CRJP board, Cavalieri said CIBJO was withdrawing immediately as an active member and suspending involvement of its officials on CRJP’s committees.

CRJP, a nonprofit group, was begun in May by 14 companies and organizations, including CIBJO, to promote responsible business practices and accountability in the industry, and address ethical, social, and environmental issues to build consumer confidence. Its roots are in the CIBJO Consumer Confidence Commission, established at the CIBJO Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 2004.

In his Aug. 31 letter, Cavalieri wrote that the CRJP accreditation process is “extremely cumbersome and expensive,” which means smaller companies “may be discriminated against simply because they lack the means to obtain CRJP accreditation,” he said.

As a “single voice on the CRJP board of directors,” and in the face of what he called “a divergence of interests with the majority of those on the board, we came to feel that we were unable to influence the process from within.” Remaining a CRJP member would have implied “tacit approval” of current CRJP structure and operation, said CIBJO’s president.

“We support the ethical principles on which the CRJP was created [and] were first declared in a CIBJO forum,” Cavalieri said, adding that he hopes “that our absence will be temporary.”

In their defection, the heads of IDMA and WFDB said they “do not believe that CRJP, with its currently proposed structure and with its system of operation, will serve the interests of most of the industry.”

CJRP spokesman Clifford Jackson, who also works for Jewelers of America, called the defection “disappointing to say the least.”

“The Council has been as inclusive as possible, trying to take into account large and small companies,” he said.  “One of the reasons CIBJO was in the Council from the start is because they represent smaller firms. We hope CIBJO changes its mind, and their input is still very much welcome.”