CIBJO (The World Jewellery Confederation) is totally committed to responsible business practices and corporate social responsibility, according to president Gaetano Cavalieri.
Addressing the opening session of the 2014 CIBJO Congress in Moscow, Cavalieri said the organisation refuses “to accept a situation by which ethical and upstanding members of our trade are unable to compete fairly because they cannot afford or are structurally unable to implement the systems that are imposed upon them”.
“CIBJO not only insists but will do all that it can to ensure that the playing field in the jewellery sector remains level for all participants, be they large or small.
“We cannot accept a situation where the conditions for entry are artificially manipulated so that the cost of participation is restrictively expensive.”
He said CIBJO’s commitment to ensuring responsible business practices and corporate social responsibility is applied and implemented by all individuals and companies in the jewellery business is “absolute”.
But, he added: “There is a growing tendency of players in our industry, sometimes private companies, to lobby government and other international organisations to enact legislation or regulations that they say are intended to protect the chain of distribution.
“These players represent themselves, not the industry as a whole and certainly not the international business. That is the role of elected representatives, like the national organisations and, by association, CIBJO.”
Referencing a meeting that is scheduled to take place in Paris soon, where several industry members reportedly plan to discuss how the jewellery industry could contribute to establishing new OECD due diligence guidelines on precious stones, Cavalieri said: “I would like to stress that CIBJO, as the leading representative of national associations from our industry around the world, should have been consulted. We were not and neither were the African producing countries or Russia, which together represent almost 90 percent of world diamond production”.
“We do not have a problem with companies acting in their own interest, but we do have a problem when it is in conflict with the general interest, which is the one that in the jewellery industry we democratically and legitimately represent, and in the diamond producing industry the African mining countries and Russia legitimately represents,” he said.
“Although CIBJO understands and sympathises with the rationale of conflict mineral initiatives, it is important to point out that poorly conceived and improper legislation or regulations can be devastating.
“One of the consequences of the conflict minerals clause in the Dodd-Frank Act in the US is companies avoiding legitimate gold producers in the Great Lakes region of Africa. They avoid them because there are alternatives sources of supply, which are less cumbersome when it comes to Dodd-Frank compliance.
“Let me stress, those who are paying the steepest price for the ill-conceived legislation are not the jewellers, but the stakeholders. And they are people and entire communities living in some of the most economically under-developed areas of Africa.
“CIBJO has a voice, and it can and has been heard.”
Describing itself as the “United Nations of the jewellery business,” CIBJO, which was established in 1926, represents the interests of all individuals, organisations and companies earning their livelihoods from jewellery, gemstones and precious metals.