Environmentally, socially and economically sustainable jewellery was placed at the forefront at the latest CIBJO/IEG seminar held during the VICENZAORO
Titled “Green and Blue Jewellery, Environmentally Sustainable Luxury,” the seminar was organised by CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, and the Italian Exhibition Group, and took place in the TIZIANO Room at Fiera di Vicenza.
Environmental sustainability, which refers to the ability of biological systems to remain diverse and productive over the course of time, is not generally associated with the world of jewellery, where many of the raw materials are mined. Once removed from the earth, they do not grow back again. Nonetheless, sustainability is of critical importance in today’s jewellery sector and has been approached in recent years predominantly from a social and economic perspective. This is because the valuable natural resources that are used in jewellery can provide sustainable economic and social opportunities to people and communities in the often-impoverished areas of the world where they are located.
But there are sectors of the jewellery industry, where both the product and the business can be environmental, socially and economically sustainable. These most often involve organic materials living in a marine environment, where sustainability is made possible through aquafarming, such as with cultured pearls, and to a lesser degree precious coral.
Unlike a typical mine, which has a finite lifespan, a pearl farm can continue producing indefinitely, on condition that it is responsibly operated. In other words, it is an asset that can be regenerated and sustained, and in turn act as a resource for sustainable economic and social opportunity. Precious coral, in contrast, is harvested from deep water natural reefs. Here, sustainability is maintained mainly by ensuring that production levels remain below the ability of the coral reefs to grow and regenerate on their own. However, research currently is being undertaken to investigate the means of actively restoring precious coral reefs in protected zones.
The blue-ribbon panel that discussed “Green and Blue Jewellery, Environmentally Sustainable Luxury” at the seminar at VICENZAORO was made up of leading experts from across the globe. This included Laurent Cartier, SSEF, Basel, Switzerland, the co-founder of the Sustainable Pearls Project; Justin Hunter, J. Hunter Pearls, Fiji, President of the Fiji Pearl Association and a key initiator of Fiji’s new pearl industry development project; Shigeru Akamatsu, Mikimoto Pearls, Japan, and Vice President of the CIBJO Pearl Commission; Jacques Christophe Branellec, Jewelmer Joaillerie, Phillippines, and Vice President of the CIBJO Pearl Commission; and Rui Galopim de Carvalho, the founder of the Portugal Gemas Academy, Portugal, and Vice President of the CIBJO Coral Commission.
The seminar was the latest in a series of educational events organized by CIBJO and the Italian Exhibition Group and was part of their joint programme, endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to support Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability in the international jewellery sector.
“As the experience of the pearl and precious coral industries shows, we should not only strive to be environmentally and socially responsible corporate citizens from the moral and ethical perspective, but such an approach is also critical if we want to optimise our economic viability over the long term,” said Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO. “Our potential for producing top-quality products is largely dependent on the health of the marine ecosystem, as it is on the commitment by local communities to our industry and our joint business goals.”
“What the seminar underlined is there should be no comprises made when it comes to jewellery and environmental and social responsibility,” said Corrado Facco, Managing Director of the Italian Exhibition Group and Vice President of CIBJO. “Our goal should be that when consumers purchase an item of jewellery, they are inspired to do so not only because it is valuable, beautiful and emotionally significant, but also because it contributes to improving the well being of ordinary people in developing countries, as well as to the protection of the natural environment.”