The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) represents the entire jewelry industry embracing a whole variety of companies, from those mining precious metals and gems to those, which are manufacturing and selling final products.
The confederation members are national jewelry associations from more than 40 countries, including Russia. In 2006, the CIBJO was the only organization granted the official status of a consultant to the UN Economic and Social Council on the development of the global jewelry industry.
In connection with the upcoming CIBJO Congress to be held in Moscow on May 17-21 Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO has kindly agreed to give this interview to Rough&Polished.
Mr. Cavalieri, what is the agenda of the forthcoming CIBJO Congress?
CIBJO is an organization that encompasses the globe and includes all stages of the chain of distribution, from mine to retail. It is organized into sectors, and then they themselves include specialized commissions and working groups, dealing with diamonds, colored gemstones, pearls, precious metals, ethics, marketing and education, association executives, trade shows, coral, European Union affairs and more. Each of these groups within CIBJO comes with its own agenda. But there are subjects that are being tackled by CIBJO as a whole.
On the first day of the congress, for example, we will run a special conference on the challenges posed by synthetic diamonds. We also will look at the role of the jewellery sector in advancing the development goals of the United Nations post 2015, the carbon footprint of the jewellery industry, and a system developed with CIBJO input that will enable all companies to implement CSR in their own businesses. If you are involved in the jewellery and gemstone business, there will be items on the various agendas that affect you directly. I invite everyone to join us in Moscow between May 19 and 21.
What are the medium and long-term challenges that the jewellery market is facing from the point of view of your organization?
This is a very broad topic that I could not hope to do justice to in the space of a single answer. But I will just mention two critical challenges. One involves defining responsible standards and practices for the jewellery industry that can be implemented by all companies, and do not disadvantage smaller firms with fewer resources. Another is incorporating synthetic gemstones, including diamonds, in such a way that the consumer if fairly informed, and the position of natural gems is not threatened.
“Two critical challenges: defining responsible standards and practices for the jewellery industry and incorporating synthetic gemstones, including diamonds, in such a way that the consumer if fairly informed.”
Among other things, the CIBJO Congress will discuss the report on proper disclosure of gemstone treatments and modifications. It has been noted that the international disclosure coding system has been in existence for four years already, but unfortunately, it is still seldom used. Why and does it affect jewelry consumers in any way?
The disclosure system, which includes the used of simple codes, is intended to improve disclosure and the transfer of information within the trade, although it should not be used when disclosing information about treatments and enhancements to consumers. Consumers should be provided a complete and detailed explanation of any treatments or enhancements. But clearly, if the limited use of the disclosure codes is indicative of a lack of communication in the trade, then consumers may not be getting all the information that they need. This is not simply unfortunate; it is not correct behavior.
The Congress is going to discuss how lead glass-filled rubies should be properly qualified. What is the problem with these rubies?
First, as our Coloured Gemstone Commission already discussed last year, in the case of heavily filled stones it is wrong to qualify them as rubies at all. They are composite materials made of rubies and glass. But they do not only have to be disclosed correctly. Consumers need to be told that they are also unstable, meaning that the state of the composite gemstone is likely to deteriorate under certain conditions. CIBJO, and I personally, have been involved in dealing with specific consumer complaints, and in fact have been successful in helping people who bought such materials, without being informed about their true identity, get their money returned.
In your view, to what extent is the color gems market is challenged by undisclosed synthetics?
It is very difficult to provide accurate data about how widespread the practice is, but I will state most definitely that, each time a synthetic gemstone is sold without proper disclosure, our reputation is challenged.
On Monday, May 19, a special conference will be held to examine the problem posed by the influx of synthetic diamonds into the pipeline. What will be the particular role of CIBJO in dealing with this issue?
CIBJO is the single forum at which gather all sectors of the greater jewellery industry, and it therefore is the appropriate forum for a conference of this sort. The goal of the conference is not to simply define a problem, but rather to formulate a way in which synthetics can be successfully absorbed into the business. This means that they will expand the range of products being sold, but they will not compromise natural diamonds, which we regard as a different product category. And they must not compromise consumer interests.
What is your assessment of the current situation in the world jewelry market? Is it losing or winning the competition with other luxuries?
If you judge by the data, jewellery is holding its own against other luxury products, and in developing markets is most probably doing better. But there is always room for improvement, especially among younger consumers.
What results do you expect from the CIBJO Congress in Moscow?
As always, we expect the industry to emerge strengthened from the congress, in large part due to our readiness to sit down together and discuss common challenges, and our inherent sense of mutual responsibility. There are also a number of areas in which I believe that congress may be regarded as milestone event, like synthetic diamonds, CSR and chain of custody certification, environmental awareness, and fair and principled advertising standards. It will be our first congress in Russia, and I expect it to be a wonderful event.