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CJA’s 95th Anniversary: Looking back at the issues that mattered most

Kim Markwart, Markwart Jewellers—CJA chair, 2012-2013
1During my tenure, we became more strategic and forward thinking on what we needed to accomplish and provide the jewellery industry. The CJA enhanced its communication efforts to our members, affiliated jewellery associations both domestically and internationally, and to many levels of government. We also became more visible to members through personal visits to their place of business and at Canadian and U.S. trade shows. In addition, CJA was recognized by the federal government as the voice of the Canadian jewellery industry and, as such, invited to consult with its free trade negotiating teams on issues affecting our ever-changing landscape. We increased our efforts to provide members with new benefits that could assist them in their day-to-day business dealings. And we re-established our connection with students and faculty of the colleges and universities that provide jewellery design courses. Lastly, we worked toward educating and informing the consumer on why they should do business with CJA retailers when purchasing jewellery, and I know we made strides in that department.

Alex Barcados, C.D. Barcados Co. Ltd.—CJA chair, 2009-2010
2I was very fortunate to be able to work with great people on the CJA board during my tenure as chair, and we were able to accomplish several things that continue to benefit members and the entire jewellery industry. I see the CJA’s most crucial roles as those that individual jewellery companies are not able to undertake themselves. The issue that occupied me most, and which I am still very involved with today, is the anti-money laundering laws and regulations that now apply to our industry. Most jewellers do not realize the government initially planned on requiring ID and record keeping for all jewellery sales over $3000, even if paid by cheque or credit card. CJA was instrumental in engaging with government and getting this requirement removed from the proposed act before it was passed into law. Although the current regulations can be a significant burden for jewellers, without the CJA’s involvement, it would have been much worse. CJA continues to be involved in advocating jewellers’ concerns with multiple levels of government. Our industry needs a strong CJA that is capable of representing us. I encourage jewellers to support the association through membership and, even better, by volunteering to participate on the board.

Steve Parker, Customgold—CJA president, 2002-2003
3Our company, Customgold, joined CJA primarily to support the fight against the jewellery excise tax. For a long period, including my time as president, I believe the industry in general also viewed the CJA’s primary mandate and rationale for existence as the elimination of the excise tax. Since then, the CJA has successfully redefined its role as much more than simply a one-issue association. While I was CJA president, our top priority was to continue the aggressive and determined fight to eliminate the jewellery excise tax. It was a critical time to maintain and build upon the progress made during the previous several years. I believe our efforts at that time contributed to the tax’s ultimate elimination several years later. The second priority was to build the membership base in Western Canada, where I am from. This campaign raised the association’s profile in the West and resulted in many more members from British Columbia. We also saw the birth of NGO’s interest in the jewellery industry during my presidency. At that time, I don’t believe we could foresee the impact such groups would later have on our industry, both domestically and worldwide.

Michelle Bankowski, Diamonds of Detroit—CJA president, 1995-1996
4I was extremely proud to serve as the president of the Canadian Jewellers Association. During my tenure, we experienced several changes in the office, one of which was the addition of Karen Bassels as general manager while she still managed Jewellery World Expo. It was at this time the CJA executive finalized a new lease and moved to 27 Queen Street E., where the CJA office remains to this day. One of our main objectives was to increase membership and awareness of the CJA in the Western provinces, striving to make our association a truly national voice for the industry. Also during this time, discussions began on the merger of Canadian Jewellers Institute (education division) with the CJA. And like many presidents and executives before me, we continued our relentless battle to eliminate the excise tax. Happy 95th anniversary, CJA!

Peter Herbin, Herbin Jewellers—CJA president, 1993-1994
5CJA’s Accredited Appraiser Program (AAP) was the main issue we worked on during my years on the executive. Creating and implementing this program really helped the appraisal process in Canada. Appraising is something that is continually challenged, so having qualified people to go to is a very important feature of our industry. The ongoing fight regarding the excise tax on jewellery was the other major issue we were facing when I was president. I recall making a presentation to the finance committee about the tax. Around this time, the government floated a phase-out approach, which we turned down. I don’t know if this was the right decision or not, but I still think about it and wonder if things would have turned out differently. However, the process that was put in place eight or 10 years later was exactly that, and it worked well because the tax was soon abolished.

Ernie Epp, Independent Jewellers (retired)—CJA president, 1984-1985
6Many things have changed since my tenure as president. CJA’s annual conventions have disappeared, something called the Internet is a daily fact of life with its attending social media issues, many smaller independents no longer exist, gold prices have gone crazy (creating a market for alternate metals), FINTRAC is a reality, couples become engaged (if at all) at least a decade later, consumer expectations are greater than ever, and buying groups like the Canadian Jewellery Group have become a lifeline for independents. In addition, our industry is now more global, with major trade shows in Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, amongst others, playing increasingly important roles. CJA has had to evolve alongside all these changes to remain relevant and, although I am no longer close to its activities, I believe it does play a significant role in the furthering of our industry. Retailers need to continue to support the association in order to maintain a strong and healthy industry.

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