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2024 Schedule

Here is the current conference schedule. Check back often as we are updating the content frequently.

Friday, Aug. 9, 2024

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

9:00 a.m.

Conference Impact in Progress

Welcome to the conference with Andrea Hill, CEO |Hill Management Group | Werx Brands; and Susan Wheeler, Founder | Responsible Jewelry Transformative | Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference | Susan Wheeler Design

Welcome everyone! We will start the day by sharing the progress of various initiatives that have been discussed during previous conferences, and some of the ideas that were even sparked from CRJC!

How to Address Sex Trafficking in Mining Communities:
A Marange Womens Alliance(MWA) Update

Susan Wheeler and Abigail Sibanda, Gender Focal Person | Marange Women’s Alliance (MWA).

Last year Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference(CRJC)  attendees raised over $7000 for MWA to build chicken coops. This funding has built 5 coops and resulted in over 700 chickens reared and sold. These coops have enabled the MWA to launch the Billboard Campaign to fight sex trafficking in Marange, Zimbabwe. The groundbreaking work to address sex trafficking in their community has received an overwhelming response. All stakeholders want to be engaged, the US  jewelry industry, the Marange mines, trafficking survivors, the local police, and the collaborating community organizations. The RJT and MWA Billboard Campaign begins on July 30th on The World Day against Trafficking in Persons, onward strong women!

10:00 a.m.

PeaceGold™: A Game Changer

1 No Pverty8 Decent Work and Economic Growth11 Sustainable Cities and Communities12 Responsible Consumption and Production16 Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
Greg Valerio, Founding Director | PeaceGold™; and Christina T. Miller, Founder | Christina T. Miller Consulting (Moderator)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated to have 750 tonnes of proven gold reserves worth around $24 trillion. The gold resources have been exploited in the DRC since 1400 and the brutal colonization by King Leopold that fleeced the country. Many communities in DRC are living on vast gold deposits. In the past three decades, the conflict in the DRC has left 5.4 million people dead, and over 1.5 million displaced. We have an opportunity to work together to envision and deliver a generational change rooted in peace, justice and prosperity for Congolese communities.

11:00 a.m.

Rethinking Retired Mines and Waste: Regenerative Solutions with Mejuri and Regeneration

9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure12 Responsible Consumption and Production13 Climate Action15 Life On Land
Holly McHugh, VP Sustainability & Social Impact |Mejuri Inc.; and Stephen D'Esposito, President & CEO | Regeneration and RESOLVE

Join Mejuri and Regeneration as they discuss how recovering gold from legacy mines is being used in Mejuri’s jewelry collections. Mejuri is a founding partner of Regeneration, a social enterprise focused on reviving legacy and abandoned mining sites through regenerative methods while concurrently restoring surrounding habitats and ecosystems. Regeneration was created by RESOLVE, starting with Salmon Gold, RESOLVE thought outside of the box to tackle the serious and growing problem of waste at older mine sites. Mejuri is rethinking the jewelry industry, Regeneration is rethinking mining.

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch & Breakout Session

Break Out: Mercury Free Mining with Toby Pomeroy, Founder/Executive Director | Mercury Free Mining.

This organization is on a mission to eradicate mercury from gold mining. Hear the strides they are making and join the cause.

1:30 p.m.


1 No Pverty8 Decent Work and Economic Growth10 Reduced Inequalities11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor; and Q & A with Sara Yood, President, CEO & General Counsel | Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC)

The U.S. Department of Labor's Kyle Livingston will present on labor rights in the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector. The session will explore what the U.S. government/U.S. Department of Labor is doing raise awareness of labor exploitation in the gold and diamond sectors and support the promotion of labor within artisanal and small-scale mining. With the National Action Plan for Responsible Business Conduct (NAP) newly released, this session will also discuss how companies can support efforts to eliminate child labor and forced labor through responsible sourcing of ASM diamonds.


2:30 p.m.

Go Global with planetGOLD

8 Decent Work and Economic Growth9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
Mona Avalos, Sr. Knowledge Coordinator, | planetGOLD Global Project; and Juliana Posada Lopera, Miner | La Gabriela Mine- Colombia

PlanetGOLD is a leading program working to improve small-scale gold mining globally. The planetGOLD program works in partnership with governments, the private sector, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in more than 20 countries to significantly improve the production practices and work environment of artisanal and small-scale miners. By working to close the financing gap, supporting formalization, raising awareness, and connecting mining communities with mercury-free technology and formal markets, the program aims to demonstrate a pathway to a cleaner and more efficient small-scale gold mining practices that benefit everyone, from mine to market. Supported by the Global Environment Facility, planetGOLD is led by the UN Environment Programme and implemented in collaboration with the UN Development Programme, UN Industrial Development Organization, and Conservation International. Supporting countries’ commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, planetGOLD is making a significant impact.

3:45 p.m.


1 No Pverty8 Decent Work and Economic Growth10 Reduced Inequalities12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Eric Braunwart, Founder | Columbia Gem House; Percy Maleta, Virtu Gem Associate Malawi; Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor; and Christina Villegas, Director of Mining | PACT

The colored gemstone sector is about 80% artisanal and small-scale mining. The labor structures are informal and work contracts are not the norm. So how do we know if people working at the gemstone mines are paid a fair wage?  It is not so simple.  This panel will delve into learning firsthand how labor structures, payment methods, and profit sharing happen in many gemstone mines in Africa. The perspective from the gemstone traded in the US discusses how they tackle due diligence of labor payment in their value chain, and how they communicate it to their customers. The US Labour Department, explains what the expectations are of us in the jewelry industry to responsibly source from those who are paid a fair wage. 

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2024

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

10:00 a.m.

How to Ensure Equity for 41 Million People in the Diamond Market

10 Reduced Inequalities11 Sustainable Cities and Communities12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Stanley Zale, President | Zale Advisors LLC; Klemens Link, Director | Provenance Proof; Berenger Owondo | African Diamond Incorporated; and Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor

While large diamond companies dominate discussions, only 10% of the industry falls outside artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). The door is open for a short period and presents a crucial opportunity to shape a more transparent and verifiable diamond supply chain, particularly in the wake of sanctions on Russian diamonds. It's a 'build back better' moment for African diamond producers, many of whom haven't fully benefited from their resources. How can we create a more equitable system? Our panel features experts from a diamond cutting center in Gabon, representatives from Ghana and Lesotho, and innovators exploring alternative blockchain solutions beyond Tracr and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP Framework).

10:00 A.M.

Big Diamonds, Traditional Communities and Poisoned Water

1 No Pverty6 Clean Water and Sanitation10 Reduced Inequalities16 Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
Thabo Lerotholi, President and Founder | Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF); and Esther Finda Kandeh, National Coordinator | Women in Mining & Extractive Sierra Leone

High above a small community in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho some of the largest diamonds in the world are unearthed. This land is home to a community of Basotho people who are herders living without the three things they want; healthcare, education, and electricity.  The land is also home to the Gem Diamonds,  Letseng mine, which is accused of human rights violations in the form of water pollution.  Join Thabo Lerotholi, a civil rights lawyer, Founder and President of Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF which is also a Member of Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC) for Lesotho ) as he shares his years of work on behalf of the communities in the Maluti Mountains fighting for their rights and justice.

10:30 a.m.

Clarity: A Call for Transparency in Marine Diamond Mining

13 Climate Action14 Life Below Water
Morgan Burger, Graduate Student Researcher | 

11:00 a.m.


12 Responsible Consumption and Production
With Jacqueline Barbosa, Creative Director | Barbosa New York; Melissa Scoppa, Founder | Melissa Scoppa Fine Jewelry; Erin S. Daily, Co-Owner | Brooklyn Metal Works and Co-Founder | Specific Gravity; and Anna Samsonova | Samsonova Consulting (Moderator)

The jewelry designer panel features independent jewelers and a jewelry-shared studio that are moving the industry toward traceable and responsible value chains. Barbosa brand offers Bespoke, Fine, and Fashion jewelry with mercury-free lines and the support of artisans. Erin S. Daily is a jeweler and co-owner of Brooklyn Metalworks which brings sustainability into their students' curriculum fostering new jewelers from day one to begin at responsible. Melissa Scoppa is a fairmined jewelry brand whose love for jewelry started in a high school silversmith class. Hear the stories that shape these jewelers' commitment to being more responsible and their passion for jewelry.  

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch & Breakout Session

Break Out #2, 12:45 p.m.: Action Coalition

1:30 p.m.

"The Ailing Forest", U.S. Movie Premier

12 Responsible Consumption and Production13 Climate Action15 Life On Land
Presented by Ana Carolina Alfinito, Brazil Legal Advisor | Amazon Watch

Awaydip Tip Mutaxipi / The Ailing Forest portrays the impacts of illegal gold mining within the traditional territory of the Munduruku people, as well as the latter's struggle for their land and for the forest. The Munduruku today number 13000 in over 100 villages along the Tapajós river, situated in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Today, they are at war with a constellation of extractive and infrastructural projects that threaten to transform their territory into a sacrifice zone in the name of gold and timber extraction, soy production, and hydroelectric energy.

In 2023 a group of young warriors from the various Munduruku villages in the state of Pará travelled extensively to interview those impacted by violent invasion, mining and deforestation. The result is a remarkable film showing the effects of mining on the forest and waters that the Munduruku people depend on, and the tireless resistance by the original dwellers of these lands.

*The documentary was produced by Munduruku youth from the Wakoborun Audiovisual Collective in partnership with Coletivo Audiovisual Wuyxaxima* and supported by Coletivo Audiovisual Da’Uk, Associação das Mulheres Munduruku Wakoborun and Movimento Munduruku Ipereg Ayu.  


2:45 P.m.

Radical Jewelry Makeover & Ethical Metalsmith's Better Jewelry Project

12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Nora McCarthy, Metalsmith and Owner | Gallery 2052 and Organizer | RJM Chicago; and Ana Brazaitytė, Owner | Truss and Ore

Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM) is an international community jewelry mining and recycling project focused on education and collaboration. It brings together jewelers, working together to examine mining issues while making innovative jewelry from recycled sources.

The mission of The Better Jewelry Project is to empower jewelry buyers to be conscious consumers, through the creation of open-source and consumer-facing educational materials for free use by independent designers, brands, others in our industry, and the press. We shine a light on complex issues in the jewelry industry, and present positive actions available to consumers so they can make educated purchasing choices aligned with their values. Our first resource guide, “The Jewelry Buyer’s Guide: How to Align Your Gold Purchases with Your Values”, will be available this summer.

3:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Andrea Hill, CEO |Hill Management Group | Werx Brands; and Susan Wheeler, Founder | Responsible Jewelry Transformative | Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference | Susan Wheeler Design

5:00 - 11:00 P.M.

Networking & Cocktails

Join us for two great events this evening. Learn more here.

2024 Speakers

Morgan Burger
Graduate Student Researcher | Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Stephen D'Esposito
President & CEO | Regeneration (and RESOLVE)

Thank you to our generous 2024 Sponsors

Alucidation Industries LLC

Anza Gems

Columbia Gem House

Hill Management Group


Rio Grande

Rio Grande

Steve Quick Jeweler

In 2015, World Leaders Agreed to 17 Global Goals

We have made progress, but there is still work to be done, and the Goals are more important than ever. The climate crisis. Ensuring no one goes hungry. Human rights abuses. Extreme poverty. Problems of this scale can be overwhelming, but the Global Goals(also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) are the solution to tackling them.