October 16, 2018
A Precious Corals Online Course, intended for the retail sector and consumers, which will provide tools for better product knowledge and raise awareness of sustainability issues, was a focus of the Coral Commission, which met during the second day of the 2018 CIBJO Congress. The meeting was chaired by Vincenzo Liverino.
Commission Vice President Rui Galopim explained that he spoke at the Coral Commission Steering Committee last year about creating the course. It has already undergone six peer-level reviews, he told the commission.
He said the CIBJO board will make the decision on the right platform for distribution of the course and how CIBJO will direct it to people who need it, and also how much it should cost.
Mr. Galopim gave a comprehensive overview of the course syllabus which is compliant with the CIBJO Blue Book on coral. He said that commission members were asked to provide images. Many were received, but more are still needed in some sections, such as technical images. Alan Hart, of Gem-A in the United Kingdom, offered his organisation’s support to the initative.
The commission also heard about a proposed letter to be sent to gemmological educational bodies, explaining how CIBJO established the Coral Commission with specific objectives, which include including raising public awareness of issues related to sustainability, and educating people about the biology, ecology, history and the legacy of precious coral.
Mr. Galopim said it hopes this outreach to gemmological educational institutes will encourage the use of correct nomenclature for precious coral, as expressed in the CIBJO Coral Book, the CIBJO Coral Guide for Customs, and, now, the online educational course. It is also hoped that the various institutes will consider adding precious coral units to their own syllabus.
The letter will be sent, along with an annex that explains the key concepts of coral nomenclature, definitions, classification and more. The contents of both the letter and the annex were approved.
Ken Scarratt, who had previously been welcomed as a new Vice President of the Coral Commission, thanked Mr. Liverino for his commitment, generosity and enthusiasm in the advancement of initiatives for a better coral industry, and for all his work in the CIBJO Coral Commission.
He spoke about a project with the Federico II University in Naples, Italy, involving DNA fingerprinting, which is a powerful tool for species identification and possibly geographic determination. DNA testing in the past was not feasible nor viable for materials like pearls, cultured pearls and coral. After talks with the university, DANAT, the Bahrain gem lab that Mr. Scarratt heads, decided to get involved in the project and progress is being made. Samples are currently under analysis and a visit is scheduled with the university. The Instituto Gemmólogico Italiano (IGI) is also involved in the project, and the Coral Commission is encouraging other institutes to take part.
Mr. Liverino told the Commission about the creation of a working group/subcommittee within the Coral Commission that will be engaged to explore environmental sustainability aspects of coral reefs. He reported on the landmark progress of the Centre Scientifique de Monaco in Monte Carlo, with the support of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, regarding the repopulation of coral reefs, and explained the advancements that were made with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It should be noted that precious corals are deep-water species, and not under immediate threat from climate warming and ocean acidification. Nonetheless, the commission hopes that the public profile of precious coral jewellery and scientific initiatives taken by commission members will raise awareness and provide solutions for the plight of the shallow-water coral reefs.
Mr. Liverino told the meeting that very few changes had been made to the Coral Blue Book over the past year and during its Steering Committee meeting, because of the very significant volume of work that had been accomplished in 2017. Proposed changes to the Coral Book will take place in 2019.
Finally, Mr. Liverino informed the meeting that the CIBJO Coral Guide for Customs has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Thai. It currently is being translated into German and will soon be translated as well into Portuguese and Arabic.