a publication of the International School of Gemology 4.October.2012

ISG: Business Anarchy

An editorial from Robert James

Merriam-Webster defines “business” as follows:
a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood”

Merriam-Webster defines “anarchy” as follows:
“absence or denial of any authority or established order”

If we merge these definitions we would have “business anarchy”:
“a usually commercial activity engaged in as a means of livelihood, with an absence or denial of any authority or established order”

We would also have the perfect definition for the world jewelry and gemstone industry. And while this edition is an editorial, the above definitions are pure facts.

The world jewelry and gemstone industry has no established order in the form of uniform standards, and we have no central authority, in spite of claims by a couple of self-deluded organizations who try to convince themselves that they are somehow the industry’s “foremost authorities” when it comes to gemstones or gemology. In fact, this industry has no accepted oversight authority and no accepted uniform standards. We are, for lack of a better term…business anarchy. And for US jewelers the very organizations that we think have oversight, actually have none.

Jewelers Vigilance Committee

When consumers first approached the JVC for help with the Tibet andesine hoax, they were amazed at the attitude of the JVC staff. It was one of “don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out” kind of response from the JVC. I tried to tell these consumers that if they had offered to buy the JVC a new frozen margarita machine, they might have at least got an appointment. But short of hosting cocktail parties and raising donations, the JVC is not known for actually accomplishing anything on behalf of the industry. It seems that consumers had the false impression that the Jewelers Vigilance Committee was actually a committee of jewelers who were standing vigilant over the ethical operations of this industry. They found out differently.

Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry Industry CFR Title 16, Sect 23

While much is being touted about the new review of the FTC Guides, little is being said about the most important aspect of this effort: no enforcement. Seriously. In the case of Tibet andesine we had a minimum of 120,000 consumers who were fraudulently sold in excess of US$100million dollars in treated stones…..did anyone see one page of response from the FTC? Any action taken? Any concern even voiced? None. Nothing. Perhaps the FTC lawyers were having cocktails with the JVC. We don’t know. But one thing is clear, the FTC Guides do not stand for any kind of uniform standards, no enforceable standards, no actual impact on the industry and will have none even with these new re-writes that everyone is talking about. The reason: these are just guides. They do not carry the force of statute. And if they did, the reach would end at the beach waterline of every US territory and state. They would not have the slightest effect anywhere in the world jewelry industry.

Other industries….

It is interesting to note that the world mineralogical industry has the International Mineralogical Association that serves as the central authority to establish uniform standards and some level of authority over that industry.

And even the astronomical community has the International Astronomical Union to establish uniform standards and serve as a central authority to help that industry run with some kind of order and uniform standards.

There is even the International Bartenders Association, International Association of Insurance Professionals, the list goes on and on of world reaching industries who have worked to establish various levels of internationally accepted oversight and uniform standards.

And then….there is the world jewelry and gemstone industry.

Solution: Establish a world jewelry confederation to establish uniform standards

The solution to this problem is simple: establish a confederation of world jewelry organizations that can create a centralized set of uniform standards, and give them the authority to regulate the industry by acquiescence of the industry members. We could call it something like the International Confederation of Jewelers Selling Diamonds, Gemstones and Jewelry. The purpose would be to establish and support the ethical practices within the world jewelry industry.

In fact…..we already have this organization.

CIBJO: The Confédération International de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie des Diamants, Perles et Pierres

The CIBJO was originally established in 1926 as a European organization to forward ethics and uniform standards within the jewelry industry. Over the decades it has grown to a worldwide organization with what I have found to be the finest structure for dealing with the “business anarchy” that has become the world jewelry industry today. The CIBJO has done a tremendous amount of work to establish a set of uniform standards, uniform nomenclature, and has published this in their “CIBJO Blue Book” series that is available to anyone in the world. I will take a direct quote from the CIBJO Mission Statement: CIBJO Article 2

2.2. CIBJO’s purpose is to encourage harmonization, promote international cooperation in the jewellery industry, to consider issues which concern the trade worldwide and to communicate proactively with members organizations. Foremost among these is to protect consumer confidence in the industry.

How could this be said better than that? What more do we need than what we already have with the CIBJO? We have the solution, what we need to do is support the solution.


Based on the above, we put forward the following conclusions regarding the problem of “business anarchy” in this industry and the best possible solution that is already in place:

  • It is the opinion of the International School of Gemology that the CIBJO is the world’s foremost authority regarding the jewelry, gemstone and pearl industry.

  • Effective immediately, the ISG will implement a program of promoting and supporting the CIBJO standards and ethics in our gemology and appraisal course programs, consumer education programs and related efforts.

  • Our Insurance Institute of Gemology will support and promote the CIBJO position as the world jewelry authority to the world insurance industry through our certified insurance license continuing education courses, and our insurance claims mitigation services.

  • We urge all members of the world jewelry and gemstone industry to pressure their home organizations to support and adopt the CIBJO as the world authority for this industry, for the purpose of ending the “business anarchy” that current exists.

Simply stated: If we had to start from scratch to create an organization that would resolve the problem of “business anarchy” in this industry, the end result would be identical to the CIBJO organization that already exists.

All that is required is for the grass roots jewelers, dealers, gemologists and related industry members to adopt the CIBJO organization uniform standards, and agree that we need a world reaching, professional organization to unify this industry…and the CIBJO is already in place with a proven track record of viable solutions.

The International School of Gemology supports the CIBJO, and we will adopt and support the CIBJO Bluebooks for nomenclature, disclosure and consumer protection in all future publications.

We urge other grass roots organizations in all countries to do the same, for the good of this industry.

Consider the alternatives. Consider what you see going on now, and where you believe this industry needs to be in 10 years.

Consider supporting the CIBJO in any way you can for the future generations of this industry.

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