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The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a watershed moment for jewellery’s pearl sector, as it has for most other parts of the industry, initiating changes that most probably are irreversible. The migration to online trading of loose pearls and pearl jewellery is certainly one of them.

The pearl sector has always stood apart in the industry, and this sometimes has been to its advantage. As the producer of a biogenic jewel, as opposed to a mined gemstone, it is responsible for jewellery’s only natural and precious component that is fully sustainable from an environmental perspective. It also handles a product that rarely requires substantial processing after extraction, meaning that what you see is what you get.

But it also has faced a set of unique challenges. Long susceptible to environmental catastrophe, now more frequent in these days of global warming, during the initial COVID lockdowns, pearl farms did not have the option of shutting down temporarily, as did the mines, because the damage that could have been caused to its molluscs would have been irreparable. The pearl trade has also been hamstrung by a long and convoluted supply chain, and by an abundance of different grading systems that have made the marketing and pricing of pearls a particular challenge.

The growing reliance on online trading platforms is likely to address some of the challenges, and in so doing alleviate others. Remote selling requires the development of harmonised and simplified grading systems. Trading platforms also offer practical and cost-effective ways for smaller producers and traders to communicate directly with jewellery manufacturers and even consumers, reducing their reliance on intermediaries in the supply chain. The pearl trade post-COVID is likely to be markedly different to the one that existed pre-COVID.

CIBJO’s Jewellery Industry Voices webinar on October 7, 2021, will be Season 3’s first exclusively online event, following the hybrid in-person-and-streamed opening of the season in Vicenza in September. Entitled “TRADING PEARLS ONLINE: Why, How, and the Consequences,” it will examine the impact of online trading in the pearl sector, discuss the particular challenges and consider how the trade is likely to change.

The bluechip panel includes Peter Bracher, Executive Director at Paspaley Pearling, the Australian company that is one of the world’s most important pearl farmers and traders; Kenneth Scarratt, President of CIBJO’s Pearl Commission, who is leading the World Jewellery Confederation’s programme to create a universal and harmonised pearl grading system, and who also is the Managing Partner at the ICA Gem Lab in Bangkok, Thailand; Pam Cloud, Principal at Cloud Advisers, who formerly was Merchandising Vice President at Tiffany & Company in New York; and Jörg Gellner, Managing Director of Gellner, a prominent pearl jewellery designer and manufacturer based in Germany.

The seminar will be co-moderated by Edward Johnson and Steven Benson, and CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri will welcome participants.

The webinar is sponsored by Paspaley Pearling, which is also the Pearl Sponsor of Jewellery Industry Voices Season 3.

5:30-7:30 AM Los Angeles / 8:30-10:30 AM New York / 1:30-3:30 PM London / 2:30-4:30 PM Rome / 3:30-5:30 PM Moscow/Tel Aviv / 4:30-6:30 PM Dubai / 6:00-8:00 PM Mumbai / 7:30-9:30 PM Bangkok / 8:30-10:30 PM Hong Kong / 9:30-11:30 Tokyo / 10:30 PM-0:30 AM Sydney


The third season of Jewellery Industry Voices, the widely followed webinar series presented monthly by CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, will kick off the same way that it did in 2020, with an in-person seminar in Vicenza, Italy, which will be live-streamed simultaneously as a webinar around the globe.

The two-hour, two-part seminar/webinar is a featured event during the second day of the VICENZAORO September jewellery show. It is entitled “Sustainable Development Goals: Meeting Their Challenge,” and is part of a joint programme of CIBJO and the Italian Exhibition Group, endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to promote the principles of sustainability, responsible sourcing and social engagement in the jewellery and gemstone sectors. It is being co-presented by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC).

The event will focus on industry strategies to support actualization of two of the 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the set of global objectives designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” They were approved in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

The first part of the seminar/webinar will focus on SDG 5: Gender Equality. It will look at the growing role of women in the mining and extraction of precious materials for the jewellery industry, and consider the significance of their increased involvement. Moderated by Edward Johnson, its panel members include Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council, which under her leadership launched the Generation Equality Campaign for the global jewellery and watch industry and has just released an in-depth gender equality report; Feriel Zerouki, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at the De Beers Group, who also is the General Manager of the GemFair artisanal miner empowerment programme in Sierra Leone; Cristina Maria Villegas, Director of Mining at Pact, a NGO operating in 40 countries, who is an expert in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM); and Diana Culillas, Secretary General of the Swiss Better Gold Association, which supports sustainable development of artisanal small-scale miners and establishes responsible gold value chains from these operations to the end market.

The second part of the seminar/webinar will concentrate on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. It will address a growing movement within the jewellery sector to adopt the principles of a circular economy, addressing global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. Moderated jointly by Edward Johnson and CIBJO’s Executive Vice President, Jonathan Kendall, who initiated the confederation’s Jewellery Industry Greenhouse Gas Measure Initiative, its panel members include Danielle Keller Aviram, a sustainable jewellery and fashion consultant specializing in the development of circular economies; Philipp Reisert, Managing Partner, C. Hafner GmbH & Co., a German precious metal refining company and producer of semi-finished products and components for the luxury goods, technical and dental industries; Gabriel Andre Sauer, Managing Director of Sauer, one of Brazil’s best known jewellery companies; and Oren Schneider, CEO of CIRCA, the leading global buyer of pre-owned high-end jewellery and watches.

The two-hour seminar will take place on Sunday, September 12, 2021, 2:30-4:30 PM Central European Time (5:30-7:30 AM Los Angeles; 8:30-10:30 AM New York, 1:30-3:30 PM London, 3:30-5:30 PM Moscow/Tel Aviv; 4:30-6:30 PM Dubai; 6:00-8:00 PM Mumbai; 7:30-9:30 PM Bangkok; 8:30-10:30 PM Hong Kong; 9:30-11:30 Tokyo; 10:30 PM-0:30 AM Sydney).

The in-person seminar will be conducted on the Main Stage of Hall 7 of the Vicenza Expo Centre, and the webinar will be live streamed at https://www.vicenzaoro.com/en/