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Diamond Commission debates terminology for disclosing treatments

ABOVE: Udi Sheintal, President of the Diamond Commission, during the 2016 CIBJO Congress in Yerevan, Armenia.

OCTOBER 27, 2016

The Diamond Commission saw a lengthy debate on Annex B of the Diamond Blue Book regarding diamond treatments, and made numerous changes including adding new definitions.

These included descriptions and the display of imitations or simulants of diamonds, annealing, artificial products, artificial products which are not crystallised, artificially crystallised stones, fancy shapes and graining.

The Commission added the new ISO standard 18323:2015 Jewellery – Consumer Confidence in the Diamond Industry, as a normative reference in the Blue Books.

In addition, some of the Diamond Book language was adapted or changed according to the definitions in the new ISO standard.


Commission Chairman Udi Sheintal said he was happy with the significant volume of work done on the Diamond Blue Book before the Steering Committee meeting took place.

“Members of the Diamond Commission Steering Committee did a tremendous amount of work before they arrived in Yerevan for the congress,” he explained. “As a result, we were able to review the book with many of the changes already widely discussed and agreed. That made it much easier to deal with all the issues.”

“We had an excellent in-depth discussion about the proposed changes and I was pleased to receive so many comments during the Diamond Commission meeting, which showed the strength of interest,” Mr. Sheintal said.

He added that there will be some changes to Clause 3 of the Blue Book – Classification of Materials.

“These new changes will be brought before the members at the 2017 congress,” he added.

Diamond Commission debates terminology for disclosing treatments2017-12-07T11:56:28+00:00

Marketing & Education Commission focuses on environmental impact

ABOVE: Moya McKeown (left) of Carbon-Expert, together with CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri (centre) and Francesca Manfredi, General Manager of GECI. They are holding certificates attesting to having retired carbon credits as part of the CIBJO’s Greenhouse Gas Measurement Initiative for the jewellery industry. CIBJO retired carbon credits for 2015, and GECI, together with Osigem Srl of Milan, retired carbon credits for 2014.

OCTOBER 27, 2016

The need to improve a firm’s carbon footprint and environmental impact was the heart of the message given at the Marketing & Education Commission by environmental consultant Moya McKeown of Carbon-Expert.

“We set up this initiative because there is a lot of competition from other sectors and we want to see the jewellery market compete and show how they are reducing their environmental impact,” she explained. “Large international firms such as Nike are advertising to consumers about how they are operating with a reduced environmental effect, and so the jewellery sector needs to do the same. We are seeing this with the work of Tiffany & Co which is doing its part to reduce its environmental impact.”

Ms. McKeown said that another important element relating to reducing a company’s carbon footprint comes from research provided by the Luxury Insights Report which showed that Millennial clients (people aged from 20-35) are concerned about the environment, and are prepared to spend more on products from firms with a track record in cutting their impact.

Ms. McKeown also spoke about CIBO’s Jewellery Industry Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Measurement Initiative carbon management programme, an ongoing effort to enable firms to reduce their environmental impact.

She advised that there are several practical steps that firms can take to be more environmentally aware, such as checking their energy usage and making their staff aware of this. Another simple step is to look at paper purchases and usage, and the amount of travel that staff members do. However, she said that firms will not be able to improve in all their operations and they should focus on what is possible from a practical perspective.

She told the meeting that the CIBJO Congress is again carbon neutral as it was last year, and also mentioned firms in the jewellery sector that are taking steps, through the CIBJO initiative, to measure and offset their carbon footprint. These include Crossworks Manufacturing in Canada, the Gemological and Certification Institute (GECI) and Osigem Srl in Italy.

Ms. McKeown presented certificates to CIBJO, GECI and Osigem during the congress, attesting that each have had their carbon footprints measured and retired equivalent carbon credits.

Marketing & Education Commission focuses on environmental impact2017-12-07T11:56:28+00:00

Ethics Commission places emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility

ABOVE: Ethics Commission President Cecilia Gardner (right) and Ethics Commission Vice President Udi Sheintal.

OCTOBER 27, 2016

CIBJO’s Ethics Commission President Cecilia Gardner began the session by reviewing the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) course, developed by CIBJO together with Branded Trust of Australia. The course is now available online, and is accessible through the CIBJO website.

“I would urge you to encourage all of your members about thinking about how they can incorporate CSR in their business activities,” she said. “The course is in six parts of approximately 40 minutes each and there is a nominal fee. I assure you it is time well spent. Promote it to your association members, as it is very much targeted at people who are engaged in aspects of the jewellery business. It is a very basic course, and a good starting point.”

The next issue on the agenda was The Jewellery Industry Summit 2016, which took place in New York City in March and which Ms. Gardner was a key organiser. “CIBJO was very much involved in it and was one of the sponsors. It was an open forum for discussing sustainability in the jewellery business. It looked to create broad based awareness and activities that can bring about supply-chain guiding principles, relating to sustainability. Industry professionals also set up workshops and it was a very dynamic and interactive event,” she explained.

The Jewellery Industry Summit aimed to identify strengths and opportunities for the jewellery trade to sustain and improve its supply chain, and also envisioned how the industry will look in 20 years if all players engage in responsible business practises. It also considered specific actions that could be taken in the short and long terms, Ms. Gardner told the meeting.

The second summit is due to take place in Tucson, Arizona, next year immediately preceding the AGTA Gem Fair.


The issue of synthetic diamonds was discussed. There is heightened concern regarding the disclosure of such stones, Ms. Gardner said. “I have been asked repeatedly as General Counsel of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) if a general reassurance from suppliers regarding such goods is sufficient in law for a retailer if he sells items which are then discovered to have synthetic diamonds set in them,” she stated. “I give the same answer that I have been giving for the past 18 years – no. The only protection is to engage in a quality assurance program. Synthetics are still a small part of the market, but they are increasing and this issue is being addressed by all the international diamond organisations.”

She suggested that jewellers take a piece of jewellery apart, check if there are real diamonds set in it and keep a record of their inspections. “You can then tell clients that you have guarantees from suppliers and that you check on a regular basis,” she said.

Ms. Gardner concluded with comments about the Ethics Commission providing information to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its guides, about what kind of conduct would be considered as deceptive when trading jewellery in the United States.

Ethics Commission places emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility2017-12-07T11:56:28+00:00

Coral Commission continues further development of Blue Book

ABOVE: The Coral Commission in session. From left: Rui Galopim de Carvalho, John Andre Pedersen and Pornsawat Wathanakul, The commission’s Vice President.

OCTOBER 27, 2016

The Coral Commission meeting, chaired by Vice President Pornsawat Wathanakul, as the president, Vincenzo Liverino, was unable to attend, reviewed the further development of the Coral Blue Book.

Joining Dr. Wathanakul on the podium were Rui Galopim de Carvalho of Portugal and John Andre Pedersen of Norway.

The Coral Blue Book was ratified for the first time last year, making it the most recent addition to the CIBJO set of gem product standards and nomenclature. The Coral Commission Steering Committee has spent the past year further developing the document in order to provide the trade with solid information, the commission meeting was told.

The changes proposed by the Coral Commission Steering Committee were reviewed and approved.

Sections in the Coral Blue Book dealing with fishery and species names was among the issues discussed.


Coral Commission continues further development of Blue Book2017-12-07T11:56:28+00:00

Pearl Commission discusses work on guide for classifying natural and cultured pearls

ABOVE: The Pearl Commission in session. From left: Olivier Segura, Vice President; Kenneth Scarratt, President; and Shigeru Akamatsu, Vice President.

OCTOBER 27, 2016

Meeting on the second day of the 2016 CIBJO Congress, the organisation’s Pearl Commission reviewed recommended edits to the Pearl Book proposed by the body’s steering committee, including recommendations for the definitions for Blister and Blister Pearl.

The meeting also discussed the recommendations of the Pearl Commission Steering Committee regarding the CIBJO Guide for Classifying Natural and Cultured Pearls.

The Pearl Commission Steering Committee was asked to produce the guide two years ago, and has been working on it intensively over the past year, said Pearl Commission Chairman Ken Scarratt.

“It is a very large document and there were proposals to reduce it, but there was no clear guideline about how to do that,” he commented. “The committee is still looking at ways to make it more manageable to readers.”

It was proposed at the Steering Committee meeting to change the word “Grading” to “Classifying” in the title of the Pearl Guide, and there was no objection to this at the commission session.

“This is a very long and detailed document which the committee will continue to work on,” Mr. Scarratt said, adding that interested parties are invited to comment on it.

Mr. Scarratt reviewed the guide to show meeting participants the wide range of issues covered.

There were comments regarding the large amount of work done by certain committee members, and also about copyright laws relating to the images used. Mr. Scarratt suggested that the CIJO Board discuss the copyright issue.

Shigeru Akamatsu of Japan, one of the Pearl Commission’s vice presidents, outlined the new Japanese Pearl Promotion Law that came into force in June of this year. He said that he would give a detailed explanation about the new law and its effects at the 2017 Congress.

Comments were expressed supporting Japan in promoting pearls, and it was noted that other countries with pearl sectors should do likewise.

Pearl Commission discusses work on guide for classifying natural and cultured pearls2017-12-07T11:56:28+00:00

Pigeon’s Blood and Royal Blue colours focus of lab report consistency debate

ABOVE: Hanco Zwaan (left), President of CIBJO’s Gemological Commission, and Nilam Alawdeen, President of CIBJO’s Colored Stone Commission, during the special session held to discuss consistency in laboratory reports.

OCTOBER 26, 2016


A special session on the inconsistencies of coloured gemstone laboratory reports, during the first day of the 2016 CIBJO Congress, focused on the issue of Pigeon’s Blood ruby and Royal Blue sapphire colours. The session was chaired by Hanco Zwaan, President of CIBJO’s Gemmological Commission.

Nilam Alawdeen, Chairman of CIBJO’s Coloured Gemstone Commission, provided the trade’s perspective, saying that consumers believe that Pigeon’s Blood ruby and Royal Blue sapphire are industry standards or a quality grade when they are not. There have been many such reports in the last three years, mostly in Asia. But consumers are confused and there have been a lot of returns of reports to lab, because each lab has its own standards, he said.

“Should we leave this situation as it is since have a free market with consumers free to decide which description is accurate, or should the industry set guidelines and thus win over the trust of consumers?” he asked.

He gave some of the history of the colours, saying Pigeon’s Blood red probably started in the Mogok area of Myanmar (Burma) more than 100 years ago. Meanwhile, another dealer probably invented the term Royal Blue which sounded better than his competitors’ simple blue colour, but there is no scientific justification for these terms, he explained.

In the last 25 years, labs have increasingly used these terms to describe the colour and not the quality of the stone. “Is it a description of beauty? It is very subjective to do so and everyone can be right. It also depends in which light the stone is seen and in which country.” He said that a search of Pantone’s colour charts turned up several types of Royal Blue, but no Pigeon’s Red. He asked if an industry consensus should be created.

Mr. Alawdeen added that manmade colour borderlines create an un-natural jump in prices for stones which do not receive the required title/name in the grading report. He concluded by stressing that he was not attacking the grading labs who do an excellent job in driving sales.

For the sake of maintaining consumer confidence in the integrity of reports, there should be an attempt to harmonize and to separate the scientific from the subjective colour descriptions in reports. Labs should say that the colour is clearly their opinion and this should ideally be noted on a separate page, he stated.

Dr. Michael Krzemnicki, Director, Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF, spoke about harmonization between the SSEF and Gubelin Gemlab which has been in effect for the past year.

He said that the lab had been asked to give its opinion by the trade and to mention them on reports. He showed a report from the 19th Century of Pigeon’s Blood red of a ruby from Mogok.

A lab must create its own internal standards and that then needs to be harmonized, he explained. The GIA, for example, has created a standard for fancy colour diamonds. He also spoke about the factors involved in setting criteria for setting a colour, and called for international harmonization.

Shane McClure: Global Director of Coloured Stone Services, GIA, spoke about country of origin reports and that they could lead to differing opinions. Some rubies will receive better grades because they are from Burma, but they actually might be inferior.

“Blue sapphire is the most difficult situation we face,” he commented. “Conflicting reports from different labs probably happens most regarding blue sapphires.”

Among the problems he outlined for differing reports were the big difference in the capability of labs and the equipment they can use, as well as the level of experience of staff and availability or otherwise of reference materials which he said are vital.

“The properties and characteristics of stones especially blue sapphires can overlap sometimes so much so that it’s difficult to determine the origin. Different types of deposits have different properties. If a stone is clean, then it is even more difficult to assess and also if it is heat treated. High temperature is not usually a problem, but stones that have undergone low temperature treatment can be more difficult to determine although it doesn’t usually alter internal features or properties significantly.”

Among the solutions to the problems raised regarding the colour issues was not using provenance “but that is not going to happen”. He said GIA is continuously carrying out research. He also proposed that criteria should be shared with labs comparing master stones. The GIA has done this twice in Bangkok with several local labs, he said.

He noted that colour designations are not popular in the United States and the GIA takes a lot of criticism for providing them on its reports. Clients say it is only a sales tool and labs should not be involved in providing it, he concluded.

Finally, Pornsawat Wathanakul, Director of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT), said the lab has developed a colour communication system since 1999. It has carried out a comprehensive research project on coloured stones with surveys, consultations with experts, questionnaires and other means.

She spoke of the difficulty in obtaining accurate colour mastersets for ruby and royal blue sapphires, but said the GIT eventually succeeded in doing so. And this year has created a master set for Cornflower blue, she said, adding that GIT reports do not include origin information.

Pigeon’s Blood and Royal Blue colours focus of lab report consistency debate2017-12-07T11:56:29+00:00