CIBJO Congress 2023 in Jaipur Sees Calls For Greater Collaboration

The 2023 CIBJO Congress held in Jaipur was a grand confluence of the world’s most influential figures in the gem and jewellery industry. Over three enlightening days, this gathering addressed pivotal issues, highlighted the industry’s commitment to transformation, sustainability, and collaboration, and promised to shape the global gem and jewellery landscape in the years to come.

The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) Congress 2023, hosted by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in Jaipur, witnessed a gathering of key industry stakeholders for the annual meetings of the commissions and committees of multiple sectors and amendments to the Blue Books among other CIBJO activities, from 3rd to 5th October.

Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, addressed the CIBJO Congress via a video message.
At the 2023 CIBJO Congress opening (from left) ICA President Damien Cody, Indian Department of Commerce Director R. Arulanandan, CIBJO Vice President Pramod Agrawal, GJEPC Chairman Vipul Shah, WDC President Feriel Zerouki, CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri, and WFDB President Yoram Dvash.

The inaugural session was graced by notable dignitaries, including Piyush Goyal (via video), Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Government of India; Gaetano Cavalieri, President, CIBJO; Vipul Shah, Chairman, GJEPC; Pramod Agrawal, Vice President, CIBJO and Chairman, NGJCI; R. Arulanandan, Director, Department of Commerce, Govt. of India; Feriel Zerouki, President, World Diamond Council (WDC); Yoram Dvash, President, World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB); and Damien Cody, President, International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA).

Piyush Goyal said, “CIBJO is an event where gems of the sparkling world unite. As we move forward, let us explore the possibility for collaboration and sustainable practices and pave the way for a brighter future for gem & jewellery industry. Together we can ensure that CIBJO Congress marks the beginning of a new era of prosperity and inclusivity for the global jewellery and gemstone community. I hope this event will give you an opportunity to engage and expand. May this event be the spark that ignites a brilliant future for all of us.”

In his welcome address, Cavalieri noted, “The business models of fine jewellery players are evolving rapidly. G7 countries, which accounted for half of all jewellery sales, will be introducing new norms and standards with respect to traceability, trust and transparency. CIBJO is a trusted organisation, which protects interests of members. It prescribes policy framework to enable and empower industry to put in place tools to operate within law to remain as transparent, honest, sustainable and responsible.”

Echoing this sentiment, Vipul Shah urged the worldwide jewellery industry to increase collaboration and investment in marketing efforts to boost demand for jewellery, which is competing for wallet share with several other luxury products.

Zerouki added, “India continues to play an increasingly central role in the global supply chain. Traceability, Responsible sourcing and Sustainability are the key mantras. India has made progress in these areas. GJEPC has been spearheading fruitful discussions and advocating key perspectives to boost consumer confidence. We thank GJEPC for being unwavering in its support for developing G7 solutions framework in an effective practical and accessible manner.”

The CIBJO Congress 2023 witnessed sessions on a wide range of topics, covering the entire spectrum of the global gem and jewellery industry.

Day 1

The session on Responsible Sourcing, Sustainability and ESG In The Jewellery Industry indicated that the jewellery industry is expected to exhibit a high level of commitment to environmental protection and ethical standards. The panel discussing the importance of responsible and ethical sourcing and sustainability included John Mulligan, Sustainable Commission President (moderator); Feriel Zerouki, President, World Diamond Council; Edward Asscher, Vice Chairman, Responsible Jewellery Council; Prof. Alba Capellieri, Head of Jewelry & Accessories Design, Politecnico di Milano; Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director, Jewellery & Watch Initiative 2030; Melanie Grant, Executive Director, Responsible Jewellery Council; Helen Mitchell, ESG consultant, working with CIBJO; and John Key, ESG consultant, working with CIBJO.

In a special presentation, Sean Gilbertson, CEO of Gemfields, expressed the importance of a ‘mine of origin’ model to boost the industry’s traceability efforts. He noted that worldwide emerald, ruby and sapphire exports had bounced back to pre-Covid levels owing to rising demand.

The Session on Jewellery Brands delved into the crucial topics of education, traceability, transparency, reputation, social justice, and the sustainability challenges that the jewellery industry must tackle together. Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director and Secretary General of the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 (WJI 2030), moderated the session which featured Anouchka Didier-Mansour, International Sustainability Director at Cartier; Francesca Manfredi, Head of Sustainable Innovation; Milan Choksi, owner of luxury jewellery brand Moksh, and Gaetano Cavalieri, President CIBJO.

A session on the Viability Of Internationally Recognised Standards In The Jewellery Industry focused on CIBJO’s efforts to finalise ISO Standard 6893. This standard will bring significant advantages to the diamond industry by establishing guidelines and terminology for quality-control of diamonds weighing 0.25 carat or less.

The speakers were Ed Johnson (moderator), Jonathan Jodry, Chair, ISO Technical Committee 174 (ISO/TC 174); Jean-Pierre Chalain, Convenor of the Working Group on Diamonds, gemstones and related products, Technical Committee 174, International Organization for Standardization (ISO); Tom Moses, GIA Executive Vice President and Chief Laboratory and Research Officer; Patrick Loetscher, Head of Watch Industry Standards Department (NIHS) at Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH); Dominique Dubugnon, Special Project Manager, Product & Process Improvement, Standardization, Swatch Group Quality Management shared their insights on this topic.

The CIBJO Ethics Commission’s discussion introduced the complex realm of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the jewellery industry, exploring protection methods and their international variations. Distinguished speakers from the panel included Tiffany Stevens, President, CIBJO Ethics Commission (moderator), Sara Yood, Deputy General Counsel, Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), Lisa Koenigsberg, President, Initiatives in Art and Culture, and Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC.

Ray spoke of the importance of developing patents within communities, as several handcrafting jewellery making techniques in India were passed down by word-of-mouth. He also informed about the significance of the HUID-based hallmarking system implemented by the Government of India, which is a unique method of tracking the origin of each jewellery piece.

Day 2

The Coloured Stone Commission session discussed the Coloured Gemstone Commission Report published by CIBJO. The panel of speakers included Emmanuel Piat, CEO, Maison PIAT, Melissa Wolfgang Director, Golay Fils & Stahl, and Jeanette Fiedler of DDI, Stiftung Deutsches Diamant Institut.

The Special Coloured Gemstone Responsible Sourcing session discussed the best practices and guidelines for maintaining transparency and traceability in the highly complex international coloured gemstone supply chain. The discussion was moderated by David Brough, Editor and Publisher, magazine. The panel included Sean Gilbertson, CEO, Gemfields; John Ford, CEO, AGTA; Jenna White, Colorado School of Mines; Doug Hucker, ICA CEO; Damien Cody, ICA President; Namwalongo Mulaisho Zinsner, Jewellery and Gemstone Association of Africa; and Vivek Agrawal, Managing Director, Vaibhav Global.

The session on the Diamond Commission saw Sabyasachi Ray, ED, GJEPC provide an enlightening presentation on the “State of the Indian Diamond Industry, Aspirations and Outlook”. Simon Hui, Director, Diamond Management Centre, Chow Tai Fook explained why “Natural Diamonds Continue to Shine Brightly in China.” And Mahiar Borhanjoo, CEO, Uni Diamonds delivered a masterful “Analysis Of Diamond Prices And How They Are Moving Comparatively.” Udi Sheintal, President, Diamond Commission was the moderator of the panel.

Ray noted that Indian diamond imports had dropped this year leading to a $2 billion difference between rough imports and polished exports, which indicated an excess of piled up inventory.

Simon Hui pointed out that natural diamonds were still highly prized by Chinese consumers, even though the Chinese market bounce-back post the lifting of government restrictions did not live up to expectations.

Mahiar Borhanjoo said that from mid-year 2020 to 2022, prices went up 50% and now they’ve come down. He attributed the rise to people wanting to celebrate life with loved ones post Covid, causing a drought of natural diamonds, which in turn had led consumers to veer towards lab-grown diamonds and colour gemstones across markets.

Borhanjoo said, “We had an incredible 2021 and 2020 – the best years of our life – and we were expecting the same in 2022, but that did not happen. Our live platform shows that in the last 30 days we’re seeing less of a drastic decrease and more of a flattening out of price decreases. This is a positive sign as we get closer to the holiday season. This may not be the light at the end of the tunnel, but some people may call it green shoots.”

The CIBJO Pearl Commission session deliberated on the pearl sustainability section, entitled “Social, Environmental and Economic Impact of Natural and Cultured Pearls”, that will be added to the CIBJO Pearl Guide. Speakers included Kenneth Scaratt, Dean of the CIBJO Academy, Rui Galopim De Carvalho, Gem Education Consultant, and Shigeru Akamatsu from Japan.

The Fei Cui session explored new market development through innovative design for Fei Cui, a polycrystalline aggregate composed mainly of the minerals jadeite, omphacite and kosmochlor, and discussed the core elements and framework of the international Fei Cui Standard Discussion Draft. The session was moderated virtually by Kent Wong, CEO, Chow Tai Fook and featured Dr Norman Siu, Director of GAHK and Deputy Convenor of Professional Writers Team of the Discussion Draft of International Fei Cui Standard, Dr Edward Liu, Chairman of the Gemmological Association of Hong Kong, Prof Dr Yang Mingxing, Ken Scarratt, Acting President of CIBJO’s Sector A, Sumed Prasongpongchai, Director of GIT, Thanong Leelawatanasuk, Deputy Director of GIT, and Hanco Zwaan, President of CIBJO’s Gemmological Commission.

The Precious Metals Commission session on day 2 reviewed regulatory issues in the U.S. and examined the gold, platinum, palladium and silver markets in 2022-23. The panel of speakers included Huw Daniel, President, Precious Metals Commission; Jonathan Jodry, Business Development Director at Metalor Technologies SA, and Chair, ISO Technical Committee 174 (ISO/TC 174), International Organization for Standardization (ISO); Larry Drummond, Executive Director at International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI); Doug Henry, CEO and Assay Master of the Birmingham Assay Office; Sara Yood, Deputy General Counsel, JVC; and Karina Ratzlaff, Precious Metals Vice President.

Day 3

The Gemmological Commission session considered Gemmological Book Amendments such as the addition of Chapter 7 and the presentation of the first edition of a Gem Materials List, complete with detailed definitions. The panel consisted of President Hanco Zwaan, Netherlands; Vice President, Dr. Claudio Milisenda, Germany; and Vice President, Thanong Leelawatanasuk, Thailand.

The Coral Commission session involved the tabling of the Coral Book Amendments that are aimed at determining appropriate nomenclature for the biogenic gem material. The speakers were President Enzo Liverino, Italy, Vice President; Rui Galopim De Carvalho Portugal, Vice President; and Kenneth Scarratt, Thailand.

The Laboratory-Grown Diamond Committee session reviewed the 2023 LGD Guidelines, introduced CIBJO’s new ESG LGD Guidelines, and discussed the next steps. The panel included Wesley Hunt, Director, Programme Management at De Beers Consumer & Brands; Jon Key, Consultant, CIBJO and LGD Committee; Helen Mitchell, Kay & Co.; Raluca Anghel, Head of External Affairs and Industry Relations at the Natural Diamond Council; and Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO.

The Sector A session on day 3 reviewed various amendments to the Blue Books, Guides and other documents related to the Sector A, which consists of Gem Materials, Trade and Laboratories. The speakers were Kenneth Scarrat, Rui Golopim De, Gaetano Cavalieri, and Thomas Lind of Hermann Lind II.

The three-day CIBJO Congress 2023 in Jaipur served as a vital platform for uniting the luminaries of the gem and jewellery industry, ushering in a new era of collaboration, transparency, and sustainability. The symposium underscored the industry’s commitment to environmental protection and ethical conduct while promoting a sense of unity and progress.

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