ICA Newsletter - May 2019
Stephan Reif, CEO
Green Dragon Mine

ICA Director's Report
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Stephan Reif

In recent years, there have been a number of international initiatives for the development of guidelines and procedures to ensure a responsible and sustainable sourcing of gems, as well as to increase the transparency of the gems and jewelry supply chain. Some of these initiatives, driven by governments NGOs and consulting firms, are directly addressing the colored gemstone sector whereas other initiatives, originally geared for other natural resources, are now expanding their scope into gemstones. In addition, there are other regulations e.g. controls of financial flows, which are indirectly affecting traditional business models within the supply chain.
Companies from the colored gemstone sector of the industry are trying hard to keep up with these rapidly changing standards, requirements and regulations as they can find themselves in a minefield while trying to navigate through the complexity of tighter due diligence standards, transparency demands and stricter regulatory requirements. The imminent fear is not only an overload of bureaucracy to meet these standards, but also the implementation of legally binding regulations, which could be technically difficult—if not impossible—for the majority of gemstone supply chain actors to comply with.

ICA has always encouraged and promoted responsible business practices by its members, through its code of ethics, rules and disclosure requirements. The Board of Directors is constantly evaluating what can be done to further encourage good business practices and how to align the association’s standards with international guidelines and frameworks. ICA directors are actively communicating with multi-stakeholder groups to identify which proposed standards or due diligence tools are beneficial and which might be unachievable, ineffective, or even harmful to honest, hard-working and ethical industry members. Therefore, an honest dialogue between stakeholders is urgently needed.

If all stakeholders understand what can be expected and agree to stick to the rules, which are actually beneficial and also cost effective to implement, trust and hence a better relationship between all stakeholders will be fostered leading eventually to a more sustainable and responsible gemstone supply chain. Misunderstanding the articulation of a largely artisanal mine-to-market activity can lead to virtually inapplicable regulations with wrong standards. This may harm the colored gem and jewelry industry and significantly affect the lives of millions of people who depend on it.

With this in mind, ICA’s president, Clement Sabbagh joined this year’s panel discussion on colored gemstones at the annual OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. ICA’s Compliance and Sustainability Committee is engaging with CIBJO to contribute to its Blue Book on Responsible Sourcing and has recently joined multi-stakeholders working group discussions and meetings and will continue to do so. At the same time, ICA is engaging with other national and international gems and jewelry trade associations to develop a common language, understanding and proposals to embrace today’s transparency and ethical sourcing challenges. Read Online
***JCK Las Vegas to Debut Global Gemstone Neighborhood with ICA
The new Global Gemstone Neighborhood will be introduced at JCK in May 2019. The 8,300 square-foot neighborhood is inclusive of the member exhibitors of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) and a dedicated ballroom for Fine Gems, spanning five exhibition areas for gemstones.  Read More for the list of exhibitors and map.
*** InColor's Special Thailand Issue Is Now Online
InColor , the informative and official magazine of the ICA, has just published its Special Thailand issue in anticipation of the ICA Congress to be held in Bangkok, October 12 - 15, 2019. In addition to articles on Thailand's gem and jewelry industry, several articles discuss heat treatment of corundum, including an analysis of heating under pressure. In the design world, you won't want to miss the article featuring a designer who creates remarkable sunglasses with lenses made of gemstones. Read More
*** So How Much Do We Spend on Jewelry and Watches?
How much does the average USA household spend on jewelry and watches per year? Does this spending differ by age group and, if so, by how much? Knowing how much different demographic groups spend can be very valuable to a business. With all its recent trials and issues, the USA is by far the largest economy in the world. So, it is no surprise that the USA is the largest jewelry and watch consumer market. Read More
*** Basel to Drop Prices by Up to 30%
Baselworld will reduce booth prices by 10% to 30% at next year’s show and move diamond dealers to a more attractive location, organizers have confirmed. Management will reopen Hall 2, which was empty at the 2019 show, and place gem and pearl exhibitors in that area together with a new innovation zone dedicated to smart watches and wearable devices. The plan as it stands would see the innovation center on the ground floor, with gems and pearls one level up.   Read More
*** Scientists Figure Out Origin of Cobalt-Blue Spinel in Canada’s Arctic
Researchers from the University of British Columbia published the first scientific  study  of cobalt-blue spinel in Canada, a mineral that produces fine gemstones that range from red and pink to violet and blue. Philippe Belley, a recent PhD graduate of the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, and UBC mineralogist Lee Groat traveled to Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut to investigate the origin of spinel’s blue variety, highly prized for its intense natural color, high transparency and limited supply. Read More
***The Women Miners of Colombia
Nubia Galeano slips the short-handled pick into her left rubber boot and turns on her headlamp as she enters a steaming, cramped tunnel, one of thousands that crisscross the vast Coscuez emerald mine. The corridor narrows, and Galeano, already dripping in sweat, is soon crawling on all fours. The 45-year-old, single mother of two fills her sack with up to 40 pounds at once and crawls backward until she can stand back up and retrace her steps to the surface. Read More
*** Entries Now Open for the International Opal Jewellery Design Awards
It is time to start designing and carving an entry for the most prestigious opal jewellery design award in the world to have an opportunity share in a prize pool worth around AUD$30,000.00. The International Opal Jewellery Design Awards was established in 2000 to promote the maximization of colour and carats of Australian opal. There are a number of professional, non-professional and open categories for opal carving and jewellery design. All entries must feature Australian opal either freeform or with an undulating surface. Read More
*** Tanzania: Foreign Experts Needed in Processing Gemstones, Jewelry
Tanzania is lacking enough qualified experts in processing gems and jewelry, prompting Tanzania Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA) to engage the government in fast tracking permits for foreigners to come and lend a hand. TAMIDA Chairman, Sammy Mollel said they were taking action in support of President John Magufuli's initiative of industrialization, but was quick to add that at present there is need to bring in foreign experts to turn things around and train Tanzanians. Read More
*** USA Looks to Tighten Jewelry-Origin Rules
The U.S. government wants the jewelry industry to declare the origin of all materials in products, trade organizations. State Department officials met with industry representatives recently to brief them on the plans. The possible rules would cover all raw materials in jewelry, including diamonds, other gemstones, metals and additional parts, according to a source present at the meeting. It is believed chain of custody will potentially also fall under the new disclosure requirements. Read More
*** Chow Tai Fook Sees Strong Growth in China
Chow Tai Fook’s sales increased in the fourth quarter, amid a rise in demand for gold products and stronger consumer sentiment on the mainland. Retail sales jumped 24% in mainland China in the three months ending March 31, while same-store sales — at branches open for at least year — climbed 9%, the jeweler reported last week. Hong Kong and Macau retail sales increased 7% during the period, with same-store sales up 1%. Same-store sales only include shops that Chow Tai Fook operates itself, as opposed to franchises.   Read More
Botswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company unveiled on Wednesday what is believed to be the largest blue diamond ever discovered in the southern African country, which is one of the world’s top producers. The 20.46-carat, oval-shape fancy precious rock has been named "The Okavango Blue" in honor of the Okavango Delta, the country's wildlife-rich world heritage site. Read more
*** Queen Victoria's Sapphire and Diamond Tiara on View at the V&A Museum in London
The V&A museum reopened its jewelry gallery in April after a three-month refurbishment, and one of  Queen Victoria 's most precious jewels serves as its centerpiece. The V&A acquired the queen's diamond and sapphire coronet two years ago, and given both its storied history and impeccable jewels, it's no wonder they've chosen to highlight it.
*** Kashmir Sapphire Doubles Pre-Sale Estimate at Auction
A 17.43-carat Kashmir sapphire ring attracted the attention of multiple bidders at  Bonhams London Jewels  sale earlier this week. The cushion-shaped stone, which dates to the late 19th to early 20th century, fetched GBP 723,062 more than doubling its pre-sale estimate.The ring, formerly owned by a European noble family, was sold to a telephone bidder.   Read More