The Second World Emerald Symposium –Focus on Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability
Underscoring the importance of the emerald industry in Colombia, several high-level government officials welcomed delegates from the world gem and jewelry community.
The Second World Emerald Symposium closed with overwhelming success on October 14 in Bogota, after three days of discussions on a variety of issues and challenges facing the emerald industry along with informative talks on small-scale and industrial mining, geology, gemology, origin, treatments, jewelry and more.
For many of the speakers, the major and recurrent theme focused on the need for responsible sourcing, transparency and an ethical supply chain, and how these are being accomplished in different emerald-producing countries. “We believe emeralds should really be green,” said Edwin Molina, President of APRECOL, and the Association of Colombian Emerald Producers, in his keynote address.
Underscoring the importance of the emerald industry in Colombia, several high-level government officials welcomed delegates from the world gem and jewelry community. Carolina Rojas Hayes, Vice Minister, Ministry of Mines, and Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed subjects such as responsible sourcing while outlining policies that are intended to help the entire emerald industry supply chain, including local communities and the environment.
Guillermo Galvis, Chairman of the Second World Symposium in his keynote speech.
Under the skillful gavel of moderator Anthony Brooke, topics such as harmonization of descriptions and procedures for laboratories were addressed by a number of speakers representing the major organizations and laboratories involved in the gem and jewelry trade. These included Clement Sabbagh (ICA President), Jeffrey Bilgore (AGTA President), Gaetano Cavalieri (CIBJO President), Ahmed Bin Sulayem (DMCC Chairman), Alan Hart (CEO Gem-A), Shane McClure (Director Colored Gemstone Department GIA), Kenneth Scarratt (CEO DANAT), Daniel Nyfeler (Managing Director, Gubelin Gem Lab), Claudio Milsenda (Director DSEF), Taijin Lu (Chief Researcher NGTC), Prida Tiasuwan (Chairman TGJTA), Zhao Xin Huo (Director GAC), Pramod Agarwal (Chairman GJEPC) and Luca Maiotti (Policy Analyst (OECD), among many others.
A revealing seven-member panel discussion on responsible practices and traceability was moderated by the Symposium’s International Coordinator, Jean Claude Michelou.
Symposium Chairman Guillermo Galvis, President of ACODES, the Colombian Exporters Association, reiterated that responsible mining builds confidence on the part of consumers who want to feel good about their purchases. He noted the importance for the private sector to work with the government and local communities to achieve lasting social solutions for sustainability in the mining areas. “It’s up to us to have a better industry.”
Going into more detail about consumers’ preference for feel-good products, Cathelijne Klomp, Environmental Project Manager LVMH, stressed the need for companies to be proactive in ensuring that the elements of their products are sourced ethically.
Charles Chaussepied, of the Responsible Jewellery Council, gave an overview of RJC’s role in the jewelry industry and indicated that colored gems would soon be on the roster for the RJC. Blockchain was on the agenda in a talk by Edward Mendelson, Project Manager, Sustainable Supply Chain, at Everledger. He noted that the advantages of blockchain’s traceability can also play a role in the small-scale mining sector.
Traceability of a different sort was explained by Gloria Prieto, from Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy. She unveiled the government’s plan for a five five-year “Mineral Digital Fingerprint” project that started in 2018. The goal of the Fingerprint is to provide an understanding of the particular conditions and physical-chemical characteristics that were present at the time of the geological formation of a mineral, which then gives a specific geo-chemical DNA. This Fingerprint can also be traced at the different stages of exploitation, refinement and commercialization of the minerals.
Rosey Perkins of Fura Gems and Charles Burgess, President of Muzo MTC, both detailed a number of projects that their companies are doing in local mining communities and elsewhere in Colombia to improve living conditions, including clinics, schools, training, etc.
The Second World Emerald Symposium was organized by Fedesmeraldas—the Colombian Emerald Federation—with the support of the Colombian Emerald Producers Association (APRECOL), the Emerald Exporters Association (ACODES) and the Emerald Dealers Association (Asocoemeral). Among the special sponsors of the Symposium were Mineria Texas Colombia (MTC/Muzo), Emeraldas de Santa Rosa (Cunas Mine) and Fura Gems (Cosquez Mine). More than 200 foreign delegates and 300 local delegates and visitors attended the symposium, including speakers from 25 countries. (www.emeraldsymposium.com)