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Counterfeiting, Responsible Sourcing, And Post-Pandemic Shifts Lead Jewelry Congress November 03, 2021 (0 comments)


Milan, Italy—As the CIBJO World Jewellery Confederation congress opened online November 1, industry leaders addressed counterfeiting, responsible sourcing, and some permanent changes in the industry as a result of the pandemic.

The period of the coronavirus has proven to be an inflection point for the industry, CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri said in his opening address.

“There are moments in the human experience where we all realize that it will be possible to define life before the event differently to life after the event. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those. The tools, modus operandi, and methods that we have adopted, initially as coping mechanisms, have changed the way we live and do business. In many respects they are more efficient, more effective, and more able to deliver immediate results than those we used before the crisis. Now that we know how to use them, there is no going back.” 

The opening keynote address was delivered by Patrick Lötscher, head of the Watch Industry Standards Department at the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. A new member of CIBJO, the organization hopes to unite the watch and jewelry sectors within the confederation, as the two industries use many of the same raw materials and share supply lines and retail distribution outlets.

Lötscher spoke of the Swiss watch industry’s struggle against counterfeiters, who in 2019 sold considerably more fake Swiss-brand watches than the 20.7 million genuine ones sold that same year. It cost the sector billions of dollars and more than 3,000 jobs.

Responsible sourcing and sustainability have been, and continue to be, a key focus for CIBJO. The Responsible Sourcing Commission’s panel session was moderated by Philip Olden, who said that CIBJO’s Responsible Sourcing Commission’s Blue Book was the most downloaded of all such documents since the start of the pandemic. (CIBJO’s Responsible Sourcing Toolkit enables members of the industry to do due diligence on their supply chains. It can be downloaded from the CIBJO website free of charge, by clicking here.)

Lila Karbassi of the UN Global Compact called on the jewelry industry to do its part in the campaign against climate change, while Iris Van der Veken, executive director of the Responsible Jewellery Council, described the industry at a tipping point.

“We have to get everyone on this journey,” she said. “How do we bring all members of the supply chain along? This is the challenge. We need to step up a gear and show the good impact of the business.”

Chie Murakami of the Japan-based Diamonds for Peace NGO, acknowledged the commitment to responsible sourcing is largely “a Western thing, which needs to be spread to other parts of the world.” 

Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of the Richline Group, said the industry needs to pay attention to the 3Cs: climate, carbon and circularity. He urged the use of recycled materials. “There’s nothing more recyclable than gold but any product that reduces waste and uses ecologically friendly materials is good for the world and the industry,” he said. Meanwhile, Brian Cook, owner of Nature’s Geometry, said consumers want to see real action and transparency and to know what is really going on.

“Multilateralism is essential to progress being made in the jewelry and watch industries in fulfilling our obligations to support and protect society and the environment,” concluded Cavalieri. “We have to find common ground and move to action.”

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