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100 years of CJA: Putting industry first

By Phyllis Richard

Photo courtesy CJA

On June 29, 2017, Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) combined with the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) under the CJA umbrella, culminating a journey that was more than two years in the making. It all started in February 2015, when CJA approached JVC with an idea. Would a merging of the two associations better serve the industry? The answer seemed to be yes, and so the talks began. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so both associations worked diligently to bring the union to fruition, striving to merge memberships, membership fees, and programs, eliminate duplication of administrative work and staffing, and ultimately decide what to keep.

For JVC, joining CJA secured a future. For CJA, the combination served to strengthen its deliverables—in particular, JVC’s Crime Prevention Program. As CJA celebrates its 100th anniversary, its voice is stronger than ever.

JVC brings the advantages of a strong industry presence to the merge, illustrated by its distinguished 30-year history.

A step back in time

In 1987, a group of leaders took a long look at the Canadian jewellery and watch sector. The result was the formation of JVC in June of that year.

“In today’s volatile consumeristic environment, any industry unwilling to police and protect its own best interest is fair prey to random, arbitrary, and hostile policing by well-organized and highly vocal pressure groups in government, the media, and other self-serving ‘public guardians,’” said the group’s first president, Brook Ellis. “It is our objective to help our industry through JVC.”

From its founding, the nonprofit association had the mission of maintaining and advancing the fine reputation enjoyed by the jewellery trade at large through generations of honesty, fair dealings, and adherence to the highest ethical standards. JVC acted as a mediator and go-between when problems, misunderstandings, or complaints arose between consumers, retailers, and manufacturers. Additionally, the group assisted the government in framing legislation that affected the jewellery trade, as well as in eradicating questionable practices.

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Most importantly, JVC strove to affirm and justify consumer trust in the Canadian jewellery and watch industry. It has continued with this mission throughout the past 30 years.

Looking to loss prevention

As the market has changed and evolved, so has JVC. This evolution was partly out of necessity, but mostly due to the recognition of a growing need for information, training, and education on loss prevention. In the year 2000, there were only two designated loss prevention professionals on payroll for the two largest retail chains, making it evident the vast majority of the jewellery industry was vulnerable to crime. Without resources for and knowledge of loss prevention, many were concerned about the threat crime presented to jewellery businesses. Two events led to JVC expanding its mandate to include loss prevention.

In 2000, John Lamont, a retired police officer working as the loss prevention manager for Peoples/Mappins, approached JVC with an idea to develop a crime prevention program similar to the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA) in the United States. The program was designed to assist all industry members. JVC’s Board of Directors unanimously supported the initiative, putting the organization on the road to becoming a major force in crime prevention in Canada.

A second event in 2004 was equally transformative. Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, based in Neenah, Wis., had made a corporate decision to return to the Canadian market. The company believed there had to be a crime prevention program addressing the growing criminal activity against jewellers. It proposed a partnership with JVC on the program introduced in 2000, and as they say, the rest is history. The two parties became solid partners in crime prevention and in the Canadian jewellery industry.

Onward and upward

Thirty years after its founding, JVC took the step of combining with CJA. Given the fact it was leaders from CJA who initiated the discussions resulting in the founding and establishing of JVC, in many ways, this brought the two groups full circle. Another win-win for the industry.

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Phyllis Richard joined Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) in April 1996 as executive director, overseeing establishment of industry guidelines, assisting in development of the Crime Prevention Program, and acting as a lead liaison with the government. Prior to this, she worked for Henry Birks & Sons and Garbo Creations/Riviera Canada. Since the combination 
of JVC with the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA), Richard has continued as a consultant to CJA, focusing in particular 
on government relations, FINTRAC, and crime prevention. She is the 2012 recipient of JVC’s President’s Award and CJA’s 2015 Erol Paylan Memorial Award. Richard can be reached via e-mail at

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