Gaetano Cavalieri: Reintroduction of CIBJO’s Organization and Purpose

CIBJO, the French acronym for the Confederation International de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfevrierie des Diamantes, Perles et Pierres, also known simply as the World Jewelry Confederation, is 78 years old, which makes it the oldest international organization in the jewelry industry. But even after 78 years, most retail jewelers know little of what CIBJO is and what it does.

During CIBJO’s annual conference, held in late February 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand, CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri spoke about CIBJO’s role in maintaining consumer confidence and the importance of global cooperation and synergy. Membership is currently made up of national associations from the jewelry and gemstone trade in 36 countries, so it’s not surprising that Cavalieri compares CIBJO to the United Nations. The U.S. members include Jewelers of America (JA), Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), the Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA), the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), and the American Gem Society (AGS).

“Essentially, [our mission] is protecting the confidence of consumers in the gemstones and jewelry we sell,” says Cavalieri. “By defending the integrity of our industry and its products, and in so doing protecting consumer confidence, we are ensuring the long-term existence of our business—your business.”

Battlegrounds

“While we have been active members in the fight against conflict diamonds,” he says, “we also have used our forums to consider means of preventing the use of gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry for the purposes of money laundering.”

CIBJO also is involved in the harmonization of standards in diamond and gemstone grading and precious metal assaying. “We have worked for years to get single, uniformly accepted systems and terminology accepted by ISO, the International Standards Organization,” says Cavalieri. “We have formulated a framework set of ethical business practices and principles, designed to encompass the various codes drawn up by our member organizations … [so] that consumer confidence can be ensured all the way along the distribution chain.”

Cavalieri says that when consumers buy jewelry from a CIBJO-affiliated company, they’d better know that the rough materials used were obtained legitimately. In addition, the components had better be described accurately. And consumers should know that at no point was child labor employed in an item’s production and that proper health and safety standards are being maintained in workplaces. “All of these are factors that could affect consumer confidence,” says Cavalieri. “Our aim is to account for each and every one of them.

“We cannot afford any damage to the reputation and integrity of the products we sell, because then consumers may spend their disposable income elsewhere.”

Checklist for retailers

“First of all, you must be a member of a national organization or association that looks after your business’s specific interests,” notes Cavalieri. “Power, as we all know, is derived from large numbers.” Then, he says, ask yourself these questions: Is the organization aware of the issues, and do they help you understand the issues? Do they have an information program, including printed materials that you can use with well-informed, well-educated potential customers? Do your representative organizations pull their weight and invest in the efforts needed to help smaller and mid-sized firms with limited resources?

Make sure your national organizations help the smaller mom-and-pop operations and not just the larger firms. “By advocating consumer confidence, CIBJO is convinced that it’s promoting the better interests of our trade,” he explains. “Our job is not to police the jewelry community, but rather to nurture a set of standards that will promote the type of environment in which the jewelry business will flourish.

“What we want is for individual jewelers—large and small—to be able to open their doors each day and go about their jobs secure in the knowledge that the products they sell meet the consumers’ justifiably high standards.

“You know how to design, manufacture, and sell jewelry. And we want you to concentrate on doing just that.”