|JIS presentation by Dorothee Gizenga, executive director of Diamond Development Initiative|
By Teresa Frye, TechForm Advanced Casting
I was intrigued when I received an email last January promoting the inaugural “Jewelry Industry Summit.” an open forum on sustainability and responsible sourcing for our industry. Although I wasn’t sure quite what to expect with an open forum format, and was even less sure about what I might be able to contribute. I registered because I wanted to learn more about the emerging trend for responsible jewelry. As casters for the trade, my company is increasingly asked to provide certified recycled metal, and this is just one indicator among many of the consumer’s budding desires for ethically sourced materials.
The Summit was held in New York City on March 11-13 and was attended by 150 people representing a wide cross-section of the jewelry industry. I think it can best be described as a high-energy think tank. I was struck by the amount of talent in the room, ranging from seasoned early adopters of the green movement, to forward-thinking companies that want to stay one step ahead of the consumer’s desires, to even a few skeptics that think the whole notion is overblown. I was equally struck by the amount of passion in the room. There was a palpable sense of doing the right thing, for humanity, the planet and ultimately the jewelry businesses themselves. I have to say it stirred my inner activist in a way I have not yet experienced in this industry, and I’m the kind of person that gets stirred on a regular basis. It felt like more than just lively discussion; it seemed that a nascent movement was truly upon us.
Exaggeration? Perhaps. But one thing is for sure. If we as a trade don’t tell our own story, we risk that the consumer, or heaven forbid, Hollywood will. And they are not likely to get it right. The Summit was a pre-emptive strike on the path to our telling a good story. It was refreshing to see the trade pull together and focus solely on consumer concerns and the inherent importance of cleaning up the supply chain. We know for sure that diseases such as silicosis, the scourge of artisanal stone cutting, are 100% preventable through education and access to proper equipment. We know that Fairmining practices help indigenous populations to earn a just wage and not have to sacrifice their health just to put bread on the table. We know these things and now we are being called upon to act.
Infrastructure towards a more sustainable supply chain already exists in the form of NGOs and non-profits like the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in France, and Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) in Canada, among many others. In addition, non-profit international standards organizations that range from mine to retail such as the Responsible Jewellery Council also offer companies a road map to ethical sourcing. It seems to me that this is an opportunity we can choose to embrace, or alternatively choose to ignore in the hopes that consumer demand to know where products come from is just a passing fad. While no one denies this is a tall mountain to climb, it’s time to strap on our crampons and take the high road.
Read the entire JIS Final Report released March 31 here.
For more information the Jewelry Industry Summit’s upcoming events click here.
Teresa Frye is founder of TechForm, which specializes in the casting of platinum group metals for the jewelry, medical, and aerospace industries. She is also founder of the Portland Jewelry Symposium, an annual gathering of custom jewelers, designers, and retailers described as a “great think tank” for jewelers who are passionate about their craft. Frye is a renowned specialist on the casting of platinum group metals who speaks at jewelry events throughout the world.
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