NATIONAL JEWELER 55 number of countries and is, in large part, controlled by a few big play- ers. For colored stones, larger players are more the exception than the rule, and mining sites span thousands of locales. It’s these key differences that make an auditable mine-to-market tracking system across the whole sector virtually impossible. (The diamond industry hasn’t exactly achieved a system across its whole sector either, but single companies, such as De Beers, do have mine- to-market tracking systems.) There are numerous gemstones coming from sources across the world, and within that, the vast majority are being brought to the surface via artisanal miners. And not only does the gem trade include the rules and regulations of hundreds of countries, but it ventures into places with less-devel- oped economies where rule of law is problematic and civil society is almost non-existent. What’s more, gemstones represent a much smaller percentage in both jewelry sales and revenue than diamonds or diamond-set jew- elry, which means less money for research and marketing, and fewer incentives for “governments to go that extra mile,” Cavalieri says. Conversations about ethical and responsible sourcing are here to stay, but the good news is that most people believe that the industry is moving in a positive direction, even as they continue to figure out the best ways to tackle it. Many organizations and companies have developed, and seem to be building out, processes of due diligence to address operating standards and mitigate risk. The International Colored Gemstone Association, for example, has a due diligence clause in its Code of Ethics. Spanning more than 47 countries in its membership and their various laws and regulations, the ICAcan’t get quite as specific as some other industry organizations, but still advises conducting due diligence when purchasing, selling, etc.—taking new materials to labs for examination, and determining that all material they’re dealing with has been mined in a way that protects and restores the environment, and protects the health of all workers by asking all pertinent and necessary questions. “It’s understated in its wording, but it means so much,” ICA Ex- ecutive Director Gary Roskin says of his association’s due diligence clause. “We’re trying to float right to the top of all that’s out there.” The American Gem Trade Association always has emphasized due diligence with its members but also recently revised its Code of Ethics to further stress its importance. For its members, this includes being sure that they are doing every- thing they can to prevent any type of environmental degradation, ask- ing all the necessary questions of goods before purchasing, and obeying all the laws in the countries in which they operate, among other things. “But, sometimes, those countries don’t have good, clear, well- thought-out laws, in which case, common sense and responsibility have to reign, so to speak,” AGTA CEO Doug Hucker says. The Responsible Jewellery Council now also is working to add colored stones to its certification scope. (The RJC did not respond to multiple interview requests by press time.) And last year, the Precious Stones Multi-Stakeholder Working Group, a coalition of companies, associations, NGOs, and govern- ments interested in responsible sourcing, released a discussion paper on due diligence for responsible sourcing of precious stones. Prepared by Lombe’s Sustainable & Responsible Solutions and Levin Sources, the ultimate takeaway from the study was that “it is doable,” Lombe told National Jeweler, noting the gemstone sector is starting from a slightly different position than diamonds and metals: a focus on due diligence. But what needs to be done by members of the industry, he says, is asking more detailed questions to international business partners when it comes to the origin of materials and the conditions under which they were sourced. This, too, is what many of the due diligence processes are advocating. Cavalieri says that CIBJO is in favor of such processes, but “on condition that the systems that are developed do not prove overly cumbersome for small and mid-sized enterprises, which make up the bulk of players in the industry.” In the colored gemstone sector, where even the non-artisanal mines are small or mid-sized enterprises, the effects of a system that isn’t built correctly could be devastating, especially in developing countries where entire communities depend on the income generated from mining. Hucker also noted the need for caution to avoid possible unintended consequences when it comes to build- ing systems for the colored gemstone industry, stressing that governing bodies need to “meld expectations to what the realities are” in the develop- ing countries: “We need to appreci- ate the fact that their needs are far greater than ours and that the people working in the mining communities are far different than us.” The phrase “mine to market” might evoke a knowledge of being able to place exactly where all the gemstones came from, but in reality, there’s so much more to it than that. “One has to wonder whether being able to trace really addresses the responsibility or the transparen- cy of the supply chain,” says Gardner. “What you want to do is make sure that everyone along the supply chain is committed to best practices prin- ciples, to transparency, to legitimacy, and to ethical conduct. Efforts to create traceability should not be in place of efforts to engage people in improving the supply chain.” In this sense, creating steps to improve the world in which a small business is operating is a vital part of its social responsibility. GOING BEYOND In many communities, gemstone mining is one of the only, if not the only, way for people to make money to support themselves, and one of the most important methods of social mobility. This means that rather than turning away from a potential busi- ness relationship because it doesn’t meet ethical sourcing standards, the conversation should develop into: What can be done to get all levels of the supply chain up to standard so that everyone benefits? This is being carried out in different ways across the industry. A miner descends to 40 meters in search of golden rutilated quartz in Brazil.