54 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2017 I t’s a topic that seems to be on everyone’s lips right now, com- municated through the use of various buzz words: responsible sourcing, due diligence, transparency. They’re all different parts of the same conversation that has been popping up not only in jewelry but across consumers goods industries in recent years. The jewelry industry already has been working to make progress but, now, also needs to find ways to make those efforts known. “We need to stay one step or more ahead of public sentiment,” CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri says, adding that the process of inclusive industry dialogue is critical to allow for cooperation and efforts at all parts of the supply chain, from mine to market. Y et for the colored gemstone market, which is incredibly nuanced in its size and scope, it’s not quite as easy to get everyone on the same page. “Setting standards that apply broadly is going to be a real chal- lenge,” says Cecilia Gardner, former president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, and the founder and key organizer of the Jewelry Industry Summit. “However, to its credit, the colored gemstone industry has taken hold of this challenging problem and is working toward a more responsible and transparent supply chain.” THE M-WORD The younger generation of shoppers and, in particular, millennials, have to be a part of this conversation, given they’re the ones largely driving the focus on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. In Nielsen’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, the company found that 66 percent of global consumers indicated they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Among millennials, that number jumps to 73 percent, up from 50 percent in the prior year. When it comes to fine jewelry, customers want to know that their high-end purchases are going to something good. “It is important that, to the greatest degree possible, the industry in general takes the lead and that we project a message that our mo- tives are altruistic and not simply profit-driven,” Cavalieri says. To boil it down in a very simplified way, James Evans Lombe, CEO of the U.S. Jewelry Council, managing director of Sustainable & Responsible Solutions Ltd., and consultant on ethical initiatives to Jewelers ofAmer- ica (which owns National Jeweler), describes the two major consumer groups for jewelry: the older customer who has disposable income, and the younger customers, many in their 20s, who are getting engaged. It’s the latter that is so concerned with the topics of sustainability and social good. “The younger generation has more ethical concerns and issues that they want to have addressed,” Lombe says. “They’re more ideological.” He says that when it comes to high-value purchases like fine jewelry, they tend to take advantage of all the information available to them and to do their research, adding that: “Retailers who don’t know what they’re selling will be faced with consumers who know more than they do, and that’s a problem.” These new concerns with purchasing aren’t lost on the industry; it’s a conversation that’s been around for a while, but it seems to have picked up steam in the past few years. And it’s evolved from a general understanding that ethical sourcing is imperative, to the question of how exactly do we approach this in an industry with such a compli- cated supply chain? “As transparency in supply chains becomes more important to brands and their customers, the supply chain must respond,” says Jack Cunningham, Gemfields’ group sustainability manager. TODAY’S MARKET The colored stone market supply chain couldn’t be more different from that of diamonds. Sourcing of the latter is isolated to a smaller The State of the COLORED STONE MARKET COLORED STONE MARKET COLORED STONE MARKET COLORED STONE MARKET With talk about responsible sourcing on the rise, here are the challenges facing the supply chain for colored gemstones By Brecken Branstrator