ABOVE: Hideki Kawamura reviewing  of the work of the Precious Coral Protection and Development Association of Japan (NPO), during the Coral Commission session on November 17, 2021.

Vincenzo Liverino, President of the CIBJO Coral Commission.

Rui Galopim de Carvalho, Vice President of the Coral Commission.

Kenneth Scarratt, Vice President of the CIBJO Coral Commission.

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

CIBJO’s Coral  Commission met in formal session at the 2021 Virtual CIBJO Congress on November 17, 2021. The meeting on Zoom was moderated by Commission President Vincenzo Liverino, assisted by Vice Presidents Rui Galopim de Carvalho and Kenneth Scarratt. With delegates and contributors from across the world, the session dealt with both gemmological and biological research into precious coral.

Mr. Scarratt presented a report on a study made by the ICA GemLab in Bangkok, which he heads, on describing the colour of the Mediterranean coral (Corallium rubrum). The goal of the project had been to devise a simple and easy methods of communicating colour descriptions.

After studying the colours of a significant number of samples provided by the trade, the ICA GemLab was able to discern 20 to 30 different shades. However, after considerable testing, it was proposed to reduce the number to five colour categories. These are “Deep Red,” “Red,” “Deep Pink,” “Pink” and “Light Pink.”

“We were trying to provide a color communication system that can be easily replicated by people around the world in the coral trade,” Mr Scarratt explained.

“We looked at hundreds of different samples. We tried to keep it as simple as possible. Each of the color samples shall be considered as the centre-point for every relevant colour descriptive term. We believe that this provides a good starting point.”

The Commission then heard an update on the work on coral research by the Monte Carlo Scientific Centre from Dr Sylvie Tambutté, which conducts research on marine, medical and polar biology. She explained that the marine department looked at the functioning of coral systems. The centre has coral culture rooms and 60 species in its tanks.

There are also experimental rooms where the temperature and light can be altered, as well as coral laboratories. “We can inspect very small pieces of live coral. We also look at tropical corals, and the effect of environmental parameters and bleaching. We look at all the organisms that live within coral, and at paleoclimatology and its effect on coral,” she explained.

Dr Tambutté said that the Monte Carlo Scientific Centre is a member of the secretariat of ICRI – the International Coral Reef Initiative – which has carried out 40 years of research and found that 14 percent of coral disappeared in the nine years up to 2018.

Hideki Kawamura then gave a review of the work of the Precious Coral Protection and Development Association of Japan (NPO). He spoke about the transplanting project of the Kuroshio Biological Research Foundation, which recorded a very successful survival rate of 99.1 percent. This was phase two of a wider project that began in 2016 aiming at the reforestation of the seabed with the local deep red “oxblood” Corallium japonicum and the pure white Pleurocorallium konojoi.

He also spoke on the issue of much older “fossilised” precious coral that comprises much of the current and historical catches in the Japanese waters. Radiocarbon dating of samples indicated ages of dead corals dating back as far as 5500 BCE. It was found that dead corals accounted for 86 percent of precious corals processed in Japan over the past 30 years.

Rui Galopim de Carvalho, Vice President of the Coral Commission, pointed out that CIBJO defines precious coral in a much more restrictive way than the wider scientific community. The jewellery industry restricts precious corals to those few species in the Corallidae family and the scientific community accepts in that definition all corals that may be used in adornments. This clarification is very important when interpreting the published literature on the subject, he stressed..

Moya McKeown, of Carbon-Expert Ltd , then gave an update on the work of CIBJO’s Jewellery Industry Greenhouse Gas Measurement Initiative. She explained to members the importance of reducing carbon footprints how it can be relatively easily and inexpensively achieved.

Mr Liverino urged members to take part in the carbon free initiative. “In addition to saving money, you can also communicate to the industry and consumers that you are working in the right direction,” he said.