CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, was founded in Paris in 1926 as BIBOA, an organisation whose mission was to represent and advance the interests of the jewellery trade in Europe. It was restructured as CIBJO (Confédération International de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie des Diamants, Perles et Pierres) in 1961, with a global rather than a continental focus.
A key elements of CIBJO’s mission is the harmonisation of industry standards, so as to enhance accurate communication among members of the industry. For this purpose it developed its Blue Book system to advance the goal of universal standards and terminology in the jewellery industry. Initially the first three publications were printed with different coloured covers—blue for the Gemstone Book, grey for the Diamond Book, and green for the Pearl Book. Today, they are generally referred to as one single entity—the Blue Book, and editions also have been compiled for precious metals, gem labs and coral.
In November 2004 the CIBJO Blue Book was relied upon by a panel of three judges in a district court in Munich, Germany, which issued a restraining order to the German distributor of gem-quality synthetic diamonds, to cease using the term “cultured diamonds” when marketing its products to the public. Explaining its decision, the court said the term was misleading. Legal commentators have suggested that since the ruling has taken place within the jurisdiction of a member country of the European Union, the verdict most probably has legal authority also in other EU countries. CIBJO played a critical role in the eventual creation by the International Standards Organisation of ISO 18323 in 2015, which provide a clear definition of diamonds, and which corresponds with that which appears in the Diamond Blue Book.
LEFT: The General Assembly voting at the 2005 CIBJO Congress in Hong Kong. CENTRE: The Coloured Gemstone Commission meeting at the 2012 CIBJO Congress in Vicenza, Italy. RIGHT: The Opening Ceremony of the 2013 CIBJO Congress in Tel Aviv, Israel.
A milestone in the history of the jewellery industry was recorded in 2006, when CIBJO became the first and only organisation in the diamond, gemstone and jewellery sectors ever to receive official consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
At its annual CIBJO Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2007, CIBJO selected as a theme “Delivering a Sustainable and Responsible Jewellery Industry,” specifically to address the issue of the jewellery industry’s role in developing sustainable economies in the developing countries that traditionally have acted as a source of raw materials. In the presence of political leaders from across the African continent, the organisation released the Cape Town Declaration, which committed the international jewellery industry to creating programmes that will help realise the UN’s eight Millennium Development goals.
In July 2007, CIBJO President Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri and members of the CIBJO Presidential Council met with the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to discuss CIBJO’s development mission, and to further the liaison between the international body and the world jewellery industry.
On October of that year, the CIBJO Executive Committee held a one-day meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva with senior UN officials. There it was agreed that CIBJO and ECOSOC would create together an educational body that would promote Corporate Social Responsibility in the greater jewellery industry.
In December 2008, CIBJO established the World Jewellery Confederation Education Foundation (WJCEF), whose goal is to establish a programme that will educate members of the diamond, gemstone and jewellery industries about the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, and how they may implement these principles in their businesses. The programme was being designed together with the United Nations, which assigned a team of CSR experts to work on the project.
In September 2010 CIBJO was invited by United Nations Institute for Training and Research to help organise a two series of workshops dealing with CSR in the United Nations Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.
LEFT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (right), greeting CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri and other CIBJO officials, during their meeting in July 2007. CENTRE: The CIBJO delegation at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2007. RIGHT: Participants and organisers of the CIBJO workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility in the jewellery industry, which was organized together with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) in the United Nations’ Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, China, in September 2010.
CIBJO was the driving force behind the establishment by UNITAR in Antwerp in May 2011 of a Centre of Excellence dedicated to CSR education in the international jewellery and gemstone sectors.
In 2013, CIBJO introduced its Jewellery Industry Greenhouse Gas Measurement Initiative to reduce and neutralise the emission of carbon gases in the jewellery industry.
After years of planning, 2016 saw the launch, together with Branded Trust Assurance Systems, an online system designed to protect jewellery supply chain integrity, and to achieve CSR compliance. Concurrently, a set of online courses in Corporate Social Responsibility was launched.