National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

CIBJO outlines pearl sustainability plan

June 26, 2014

At the Sustainable Pearls Forum in Hong Kong on June 21, CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri provided a framework for sustainability of the cultured pearl industry, focusing on economic, environmental and social responsibility.

Milan, Italy--At CIBJO’s recent Sustainable Pearls Forum, President Gaetano Cavalieri emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to achieve sustainability in the cultured pearl sector, one that focuses on economic, environmental and social responsibility.

At the conference, which was held in Hong Kong on June 21, Cavalieri noted that the cultured pearl industry’s ability to initiate new growth of pearls gives the industry a “tremendous opportunity” to introduce new concepts for sustainability that other sectors of the gem and jewelry industry don’t have.

Cavalieri outlined three basic elements that need to be addressed--economic, environmental, and social sustainability--which not mutually exclusive. The inability to address one will make it that much harder on the industry to address the other two in the future.

Economic sustainability will require the industry to use its resources in a responsible way to ensure that businesses will be able to function profitably over the long term, Cavalieri said.

“The essential importance of economic sustainability must be appreciated by the business community, which needs to be prepared to take a long-term approach, sometimes at the expense of short-term profit,” he said, adding that government regulators must also do their part to protect the country’s environment while also allowing the economy to function.

Environmental sustainability, meanwhile, should become a catchphrase of the industry so that consumers feel that they are investing in the planet’s long-term survival rather than taking advantage of it when they buy pearl jewelry.

In terms of social sustainability, Cavalieri emphasized the importance of the grass-roots communities associated with the industry. These communities need opportunities to benefit from the pearl farming so they are motivated to invest in the future of their business and the future of the pearl industry.

Cavalieri also addressed the idea of a Universal Pearl Grading System, which currently is being considered by the CIBJO Pearl Commission.

“We realize that it’s not an easy task, and that a variety of opinion exists. It will take time,” he said. “But we are patient, and believe that such system will enhance transparency, and as a consequence, consumer confidence. And let me remind you, to operate a sustainable industry, or any business enterprise, consumer confidence is an absolute prerequisite.”