By Jacquie De Almeida
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to ensuring consumer confidence within the jewellery industry, says Gaetano Cavalieri, president of CIBJO.
Speaking with Jewellery Business at VicenzaOro’s About J last month, Cavalieri said one of the major hurdles is not simply spreading the word about CSR, but overcoming the belief it cannot be implemented at all levels of the supply chain.
“When you talk about CSR, immediately you think it is something that is impossible to achieve,” he said. “In this case, the elements of CSR are very simple because we are talking about human rights, respect for the environment, health and safety, etc.”
In an industry that is mostly made up of smaller companies, Cavalieri says many feel CSR initiatives are reserved for large-size corporations. To combat that belief, CIBJO is putting together a practical guide to implement CSR initiatives, as well as developing webinars with the help of experts in the field at leading universities around the world.
“But we want to keep it very simple,” he adds. “We want to educate the industry in order to educate the consumer about the story behind the jewellery they buy.”
Ultimately, the bulk of the legwork of conveying how jewellery is sourced rests with retailers. Being able to talk about initiatives like the work that is being done to protect miners and others along the supply chain helps ensure consumer confidence and protection.
“We want to protect the consumer against elements of jewellery that have no traceability,” Cavalieri said. “They need to know where it all comes from and the conditions under which it was sourced.
“Behind every piece of jewellery, there are elements like gold, which is mined 3000 m below ground by people who work under very tough conditions. What we’ve done is put together systems through which mines provide medical care, education for workers’ children, and other programs.”
Providing consumers with a more personal look at how raw materials are sourced was the thrust behind Rio Tinto’s marketing campaign, “Diamonds with a Story,” which looks at the human, geological, and cultural histories behind diamonds. However, Cavalieri points out the financial resources of a company like Rio to back this type of initiative are significant.
“We represent the rank and file made up of six million companies in 43 countries,” he says. “Most small retailers—who interact with consumers on a more personal level—don’t have the financial capacity for marketing campaigns.”
On the home front, Cavalieri says he met with Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) president and chief executive officer (CEO) David Ritter during JCK Las Vegas, along with new chair, Kim Markwart of Saskatchewan’s Markwart Jewellers. Although he was unable to go into detail, Cavalieri says the two organizations are currently working together on several issues. He said he was particularly pleased to hear the new chair is a retailer. “Kim is grassroots and rank and file, which is what CIBJO represents.”
For now, CIBJO’s other focus is on French Polynesia and improving environmental issues related to Tahitian pearl farming, as well as creating traceability throughout that industry. Since pearls are grown in different parts of the world, determining origin and the conditions under which they are cultured is difficult.