The 2017 Congress of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, concluded in Bangkok. The three-day event, which ran from November 5 through 7, brought together some 150 official delegates and around 300 participants from around the world. It covered a wide range of issues, with a strong focus on responsible sourcing, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, particularly in the coloured gemstone sector.
Meeting on the final day of the of the congress, the general assembly elected Gaetano Cavalieri to another two-year term as CIBJO President. For the first time, three Vice Presidents were elected — Roland Naftule of the United States, Eli Avidar of Israel, and Corrado Facco of Italy. Marc-Alain Christen of Switzerland was reconfirmed as the organisation's Chief Financial Officer, and a new Board of Directors was elected, also for a two-year term.
The 2017 CIBJO Congress was officially opened by General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Thai Prime Minister, who was accompanied by Apiradi Tantraporn, Thailand's Minister of Commerce, and Sontirat Sontijirawong, the country's Deputy Minister of Commerce.
General Chan-o-cha stressed his government's support for the Thai gem and jewellery industry, which is the country's third largest export earner. "We need to take care of the people in the value chain to make sure that nobody is left behind, especially the lower income workers, and we also want to ensure transparency and good governance," he stated. "Thailand is committed to improving our products and to becoming a global jewellery hub in the next five years, and I hope we can grow stronger together and enable Thailand to secure this vision.”
Cavalieri, in his address, stressed the role of the congress and the mission of the World Jewellery Confederation. "As most of you know, a CIBJO Congress is not a commercial event. There are no gemstones or jewellery on sale. We gather each year to talk about rules and regulations, standards and ethics, and strategies for the years ahead. We do so out of the firmly-held belief that, in order to succeed in business, we have to conduct our affairs in a manner that is beyond reproach, and we need to see over the horizon. The subjects we address, make that possible," he said.
"We have no illusions. Jewellery and gemstones are luxury products that consumers purchase because they want to, and not because they have to. For us there is no margin of error. If we lose the confidence of our consumers, and in so doing undercut the value of our product, we will not remain in business, let alone prosper," Cavalieri stated.
A particularly powerful session focused on the integrity of the supply chain in the coloured gemstone sector. It was moderated by Anne-Marie Fleury, the Standards and Impacts Director at the Responsible Jewellery Council, which co-organized that particular meeting.
"It is all a question of perspective," said Gemfields CEO Sean Gilbertson, speaking during the session. "We can talk of clinically about artisanal mining from the comfort of a luxury hotel in Bangkok, but if I was an artisanal miner working in a protected national park and my family depended on what revenue I could produce to survive, I am pretty sure that I would do no differently from what they are doing."