You Need Gems in this Shopping Bag!

ZCDC Letter

Stop Sexual Assault in the Marange Diamond Mine Region of Zimbabwe

During the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference Diamond Symposium, October 7-8, 2020, participants heard first-hand testimony about sexual assaults on women, including minors, by the security forces of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), owner and operator of the Marange Diamond Mines.

Requests for the ZCDC and government of Zimbabwe to investigate and end these abuses have gone unanswered.

We invite you, as a member or affiliate of the international jewelry industry, to sign the following letter. As the organizations responsible for the trade of diamonds, we have a moral obligation to speak out against human rights abuses, and to use our shared economic influence to demand change.

Building Chains of Trust with Susan Wheeler | MJSA Interview

On Friday, October 18, MJSA interviewed Susan Wheeler about responsible jewelry supply chains,  building trust, and the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. 

Here are the podcast highlights:

    • 3:00 - Logistical challenges involving the 2019 Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference
    • 3:32 - Susan’s journey into responsible jewelry 
    • 5:25 - The origins of the CRJC
    • 7:05 - Achieving broad participation at the conference, representing all affected communities
    • 8:52 - The global reach of the jewelry industry, environmental concerns regarding deforestation and mining
    • 11:27 - CRJC and industry goals, gold concerns, UN Sustainable Goals
    • 13:52 - The importance of connection and collaboration to effect change. 
    • 14:32 - Moyo Gems/Tanzanian Womens Miners Association
    • 15:30 - What the industry is getting right, importance of industry-wide transparency and communication
    • 16:25 - Consumer awareness surrounding responsible sourcing 
    • 18:01 - Initiatives to improve gemstones sourcing, third-party tracing and certifications
    • 23:39 - Current options and tips for obtaining trustworthy responsible gems
    • 25:50 - Supplier efforts to improve traceability 
    • 26:45 - Forming your own direct connections with mines and other gem sources
    • 28:26 - The responsible sourcing challenges still facing the industry and related communities

Listen here:

Jewelry Industry Summit Features CRJC

In the Jewelry Industry Summit newsletter for October, 2019, there are several articles near and dear to our CRJC hearts.

First, there's an article on the recent State Department session on Women's Economic Empowerment, held in DC on August 8, 2019. CRJC's founder Susan Wheeler attended that day, along with many regular CRJC attendees. 

JIS also highlighted the recent Kenya Gem & Jewellery Fair collaboration with CRJC in an article submitted by Susan Wheeler.

You can read the newsletter here:

Chief of Paiter-Surui to Speak at Conference

We are very excited to announce that Chief Henrique Suruí, head of all 26 tribes of the Paiter-Suruí in Brazil, will speak at the 2019 Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. The Paiter-Suruí control 248,000 hectares of Amazon Forest, and under that forest lies diamonds, gold, and colored gemstones. Pretty much every corporation in the world with interest in precious extractives wants access to the wealth that the Paiter-Suruí controls.

The Paiter were first "officially" contacted in 1969, and since that time they have been threatened by violence, government corruption, invasion by lumbermen and miners, and continuous efforts to exploit their lands. 

In the past 20 years, the Paiter-Suruí people have engaged in several initiatives to protect their resources, create economic benefit through selling carbon credits, and launch a "50 Year Management Plan of the Paiter-Suruí People." One of the primary missions of the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference is to create information exchange and shared values and objectives among individuals and communities engaged in jewelry supply chains. Having Chief Enrique join the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference personally to share the experience of his people, and their efforts to join a modern world while protecting their culture and land, is an incredible opportunity for conference attendees to gain valuable perspective and direct knowledge.

Related article: What Are Projects That Destroy Life? The Paiter-Suruí REDD Project in Brazil.

Kenya to Establish Sovereign Wealth Fund

One of the challenges of creating responsible supply chains is ensuring that the work that is done to protect the communities and workers actually benefits them economically. It's one thing to provide new safety training and equipment and ensure that the miners are using their new tools and methods. It's another thing entirely to verify that economic incentives and profit sharing get past bureaucracies and governments and into the hands of the people.

So the fact that Kenya is working to establish a Soverign Wealth Fund is exciting. According to Mr. John Omenge, the Principle Secretary for the state Department for Mining in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, said "the fund will open up avenues of how the monies from mining will go back to counties and communities in the mining zones.

According to the Kenyan Mining Act, the national government receives 70% of royalties from any mining activities, county governments receive 20%, and communities living in the mining zones get 10%. However, the monies for counties and communities has not been well-distributed, and the national government is holding billions in monies that belong to the local communities. As oil and other high-value minerals continue to be discovered in Kenya, the government has decided a sovereign wealth fund is needed to guide revenue back to local communities.

For more information about this exciting initiative, click the link below:

Wealth Fund


Will the US Government Soon Crack Down on the Jewelry Industry?

In JCK Online today (April 16, 2019), industry expert Rob Bates reports that in a recent forum in NYC, State Department officials alluded to a coming "crackdown" on jewelry businesses. 

In the article, Bates reports one attendee as saying, "[The Government] wants to know where every part of a piece is sourced. . . Not just the diamond or gem, but the gold, everything." 

Read the article here

Supply chain transparency is an important objective for the jewelry industry, so the notion of greater pressure to achieve it isn't a  bad thing!  The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference has been saying for some time now that the industry must embrace transparency and get out ahead of this issue. This is not a future issue for the industry - the demand for transparency is happening right now. 

But a dramatic government crackdown could create tremendous business losses for an industry that is already struggling in many sectors. It is critical that the industry work fast and collaboratively to embrace responsible supply chain practices now; both because it is the right thing to do, and because the social and government pressure to do so will force our policies if we don't embrace transparent behavior on our own. Government supplied policies are not likely to be the right policies or the best policies. Let's do a good job of policing ourselves, and create a better industry in the process. 

Kimberley Process to Add Human Rights and Labor Relations to Certification Scheme

The Kimberley Process

The Kimberley Process is flawed, but it still serves an important role for the world and the jewelry industry. If it continues to evolve, it can become a better process over time.

Many people think the Kimberley Process is an initiative of the diamond industry. But in fact, it is an initiative formed by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution (55/56), intended to get governments to endorse and perform a system of warranties created by the World Diamond Council (WDC). Currently 82 countries are members.

In order to be a participant in the Kimberley Process, each government must "ensure that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group or other entity seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government, that every diamond export be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate and that no diamond is imported from, or exported to, a non-member of the scheme."  And, as is common in agreements between governments, each government carefully monitors its own priorities and objectives, and doesn't always tell the truth. In addition, the World Diamond Council has not always been transparent about the inherent deficiencies of the Kimberley Process, leading to extensive criticisms of the initiative and its portrayal to consumers. All this means that progress is slow, often highly self-interested, and sometimes takes a step back for each two steps forward.

The current form of the Kimberley Process does not fully address the human or environmental impact of diamond mining, nor does it adequately address traceability. Recent technological progress in blockchain technology is making it possible to trace individual materials (for example, if you want to know where the tomato you are eating came from and when it was picked, that's possible today, but it wasn't in 2003 when the Kimberley Process began).  

But flawed doesn't mean worthless. The extractives industry in Africa has a torrid history of colonialization, wars, and corruption that goes back hundreds of years. In other words, it's messy. Very messy. Messy human problems take time and patience to change, and must be solved in the context of each participating country's current social, political, and economic set of realities (diamonds aren't their only concerns). So the fact that these governments continue to engage in discussion and progress is very positive. The Kimberley Process has led to improvements, and will continue to support positive change over time. But it should be viewed as only one part of a worldwide effort to clean up jewelry supply chains. 

What jewelry industry members must do is remember that the process is imperfect, and that simply asking diamond suppliers if they are KPCS compliant is not the same thing as being a responsible sourcer of diamonds. It is a good step, but insufficient on its own to meet the human and environmental responsibilities we bear as an industry. 

WDC Advocates to Expand Kimberley Process Scope

According to a press release from the WDC on April 4, 2019, "Expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process to include issues related to human rights and labor relations will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa's artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential, and so support the development of their countries' economies." This was said by Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of WDC, at the Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week on April 3, 2019 in Belgium.

WDC's push to add human rights and labor relations to the Kimberley Process is important. The Kimberley Process cannot ever be better than the combined efforts of its member countries. But the effort to keep the conversation alive and progressing is well worth our support, and addressing human rights and labor relations answers a long-time criticism of the Kimberley Process's effectiveness.

Also at the Forum:

Keeping the Central African Republic Close

The Forum was organized by Africa Rise, a Belgian organization that promotes Africa's economic and social emergence through contacts between its entrepreneurs and their counterparts from other parts the world. The guests of honor at the forum were Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic (CAR), and Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister.

CAR is sill under suspension from the Kimberley Process. But in February 2019, the CAR government signed a peace agreement with 14 rebel groups, ending a seven-year civil war. According to Ms. Kaninda, the WDC is optimistic "that the end of the conflict will precipitate better prospects for the African nation. "We believe that through the implementation of the peace process, the CAR will be able to resume the unrestricted export of rough diamonds, supported by the Kimberley Process Certification System, and, paraphrasing the President, help turn the CAR resolutely towards its development." 

"Although the CAR remains under Kimberley Process suspension, forbidding diamond exports from areas falling outside of the so-called green zones in the western part of the country, from which diamond exports are approved monthly by a monitoring team, its government has been working closely with the Kimberley Process to enable the sale of artisanally-mined alluvial stones. The WDC strongly advocates that the CAR and other countries where artisanal diamond mining is prominent enjoy similar benefits from their production as do other African countries that have seen their economies and nations transformed by the proceeds from diamond sales."

CRJC Inspires Fairmined Interest for Jewelry Designer

Christina Malle Fairmined Gold Coil RingJewelry designer Christina Malle, a former human rights lawyer, shared in a recent article published on bezinga that her recent foray into becoming a Fairmined™ gold licensee was inspired by attending the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference and hearing Roberto Alvarez (a representative of La Fortaleza mining operation in Colombia) speak at the 2018 conference. Yay for influencing change! That's the whole reason we exist.

Read the Article Here

CRJC and AWEIK Form Collaboration

Susan Wheeler, founder of the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference (CRJC), and the Association of Women in Extractives Kenya (AWEIK), the organizer of the annual Kenya Gem and Jewellery Fair (KGJF), have announced that the two organizations will begin a significant collaboration to promote responsible practices among Kenyan gems and minerals suppliers and worldwide jewelry businesses interested in creating close, transparent supply chains.


AWEIK is a nation-wide organization that aims to connect women in Kenya with professional and business opportunities in the extractives value-chain through fostering relationships and sharing knowledge and experiences. The Association champions for the economic empowerment of women through lobbying, capacity building and business development services.

One of AWEIK’s many efforts is producing in the Kenya Gem and Jewellery Fair (KGJF), which showcases Kenyan minerals and natural resources, and has become the leading gem and Jewellery event in Africa. The next fair will take place July 11-12, 2019 at the Movenpick Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. According to the KGJF website, “the KGJF is the leading gems and jewellery event in Africa. This fair showcases some of the best gemstones, jewellery, and minerals the continent has to offer.” Exhibitors from all over Africa attend each year.

About CRJC

The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference takes place each October in Chicago’s South Loop. It has become a gathering place for the international community of thinkers and do-ers in initiatives to make jewelry supply chains more transparent and more responsible. Its mission is to engage everyone in the jewelry industry: miners, makers, professionals, educators, and students. It’s goal is to address all the ways that individuals and companies can be involved in the responsible jewelry movement, and to a catalyst for action and change.

About the Collaboration

With the new collaboration between AWEIK and the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, there will be an additional emphasis on creating the kind of open and transparent relationships that can lead to shorter, more responsible supply chains.

These types of collaboration are critical to bridging the geographical and cultural distance between the traditional jewelry industry and the communities and workers who provide the gems, minerals, and metals that supply the industry with its raw materials.

The CRJC will offer a full day of presentations on the 2nd day of KGJF (July 12), helping to bring more industry awareness and information regarding responsible and transparent supply chains. In return, KGJF will send representation to the CRJC in October 2019 to speak at the event and participate in the responsible gem fair that will be held the day before the event on October 24, 2019. The two organizations will also reach out to other responsible jewelry fairs around the world to seek further collaborations.

Susan Wheeler will present at the KGJF on how t o form mutually beneficial business relationships across international markets through transparency and responsible practices. Other speakers are being finalized now, and will be announced shortly. The CRJC is seeking sponsors to help cover the costs of bringing KGJF speakers to the Chicago event (if you are interested in sponsoring this effort, please contact Susan Wheeler directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Jewelry Glossary Project

DSC 6960webThe Jewelry Glossary Project formed in response to the growing use and misuse of key terms related to sustainability and responsible sourcing in the jewelry industry. To promote effective communication and accountability through shared understanding of key terms, the JGP created a jewelry glossary with an initial set of ten key terms. In February 2019, the JGP conducted a survey for feedback on their proposed definitions. The JGP concluded their survey in June after receiving feedback from over 400 participants. The JGP will be presenting their findings at the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference and will discuss how attendees can use the Glossary to increase clarity and shared understanding in their brand practices. 

Emily Phillippy (Emily Chelsea Design), Jared Holstein and Jay Moncada (Perpetuum Jewels), and Erin Daily (Brooklyn Metalworks), will be presenting their findings at the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. During this session, they will also offer ways for jewelry industry members to interact with and use these definitions in their every day practice.   


 emily chelsea web

Emily Phillipy

Jay Moncada 3 

Jay Moncada

 Erin Daily 1 550x500

Eric Daily

Jared Holstein

Jared Holstein 

(the following posting is from an earlier Hot  Topics article in the CRJC website)

Initiative to Establish Common Terms in Supply Chain Initiatives

According to a recent article "What Do We Mean When We Say 'Ethical' Sourcing?" by Brecken Branstrator in National Jeweler, the conversation around "responsible sourcing," "ethical supply chains" and "transparency" is confusing. Why? Because so many people use the same words to mean different things.

Branstrator shares that jewelry designer Emily Phillippy has been leading a group effort to establish industry-accepted definitions for supply-chain related words in jewelry responsibility efforts. 

The group has come up with definitions for 10 words, and is now seeking feedback from the trade on their efforts via a survey. So we're sharing this request with all our CRJC fans, since we know you'd want to participate!


(the survey is now closed)

Make sure you read the National Jeweler article - it goes into much more detail and has some other good links.