Thais to Disclose Beryllium Treatment

The Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association and the Japan Jewelers Association have signed a memorandum of understanding on disclosure procedures for beryllium-treated corundum. They announced the agreement at the CIBJO Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 14.

It comes five years after undisclosed beryllium-treated sapphires, treated in Thai laboratories, were sold to Japanese gemstone suppliers as heat-treated, pinkish orange padparadscha sapphire. It also comes at least two years after the introduction of beryllium-treated blue sapphire and ruby.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines call for disclosure of all gemstone treatments, and the American Gem Trade Association requires members to disclose all enhancements and treatments when selling colored gems. Nevertheless, there have been allegations that Thai laboratories have created new treated product and introduced it to the trade undisclosed.

The memorandum of understanding states that “the exporter of loose corundum must disclose the treatment on the invoice for the export item using the following terminology: ‘Non-Be-Treated, Be-Treated, and Unconfirmed Be Treatment.’” Compliance will be enforced under TGJTA rules, and JJA members must follow the same disclosure standard in their domestic transactions. Noncompliance in Japan will be enforced under JJA rules. Neither group has commented on what enforcement procedures would take place in the event of noncompliance.

JJA has requested the same disclosure rules for jewelry set with corundum, but there has been no confirmation that Thai organizations will comply.

Both organizations resolved to establish a set of similar disclosure standards for beryllium identification, with support from gem laboratories in both countries. In addition, both parties will ask their local gem labs to conduct joint research to strengthen the disclosure procedure.

Thai exporters will have to accept the return of any corundum exported to Japan without proper disclosure that’s subsequently shown to contain beryllium and make a full refund to the buyer. TGJTA requested that the disclosure procedure be applied to all other countries that export corundum to Japan. JJA said it would give the issue the highest priority. JJA also welcomed a proposal from TGJTA to make information about beryllium treatment available to retailers and consumers.

Finally, TGJTA proposed creation of a Cluster Blue Sapphire Group that would export only non-beryllium-treated corundum. Once such a group is formed, the list of member companies will be made available to JJA, which will distribute it to its members.

“As members of CIBJO, our organizations share their commitments to the disclosure procedures as defined in the CIBJO Blue Books. Therefore, it was with this trust and perception that we were able to find common ground for constructing this Memorandum of Understanding,” a spokesman for the Thai and Japanese delegation stated. “It was therefore symbolic that we announced the MoU here in Cape Town, at the CIBJO congress.”

Included in the Memorandum of Understanding were the Thai Department of Export Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Commerce, the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand, and the Chantaburi Gem and Jewelry Traders Association.