Talk­ing Green, Lit­er­ally – Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium

Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium

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The world’s first global sym­po­sium de­voted to emer­alds took place in Bo­gota, Colom­bia to rave re­views in 2015. This Oc­to­ber, the Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium took place and en­joyed an even more over­whelm­ing pos­i­tive re­sponse from par­tic­i­pants. While the fo­cus was on the theme of ethics in the gem­stone in­dus­try, the very suc­cess­ful three- day event also in­cluded dis­cus­sions on other is­sues and chal­lenges fac­ing the emer­ald in­dus­try along with talks on in­dus­trial min­ing, ge­ol­ogy, gem­mol­ogy, ori­gin, treat­ments, new tech­nolo­gies, jewellery and more. Cyn­thia Un­ni­na­yar re­ports.

The sec­ond edi­tion at­tracted more than 200 peo­ple from over­seas and some 300 from Colom­bia, and fea­tured more than 75 pre­sen­ta­tions. Or­gan­ised by Fedesmer­al­das, the Colom­bia’s Na­tional Emer­ald Fed­er­a­tion, the sym­po­sium brought to­gether the world’s key play­ers, in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment and emer­ald trade as­so­ci­a­tions (Apre­col, Acodes, Aso­coes­mer­al­das), bro­kers, deal­ers, gem­mol­o­gists, lab­o­ra­to­ries, min­ers, jewellers and more, from Oc­to­ber 12th to 14th, 2018.

Os­car Ba­quero, pres­i­dent of Fedesmer­al­das, ex­plained that the fed­er­a­tion bridges the needs of the emer­ald in­dus­try and works with the gov­ern­ment to en­sure best prac­tices and to pro­mote Colom­bian emer­alds abroad. He noted that it con­ducts re­search at the mines to ex­pand the knowl­edge of Colom­bian emer­alds, all the while pro­mot­ing projects for sus­tain­able and re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing as well as in­creas­ing the vis­i­bil­ity of the pre­cious green gems. Fo­cus on ethics The re­cur­rent theme of the Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium was the need for in­dus­try play­ers to fo­cus on ethics with an em­pha­sis on re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing, trans­parency, sus­tain­abil­ity and an eth­i­cal sup­ply chain. Il­lus­trat­ing the im­por­tance that the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment places on these best prac­tices, a num­ber of high-level of­fi­cials spoke at the sym­po­sium. Among them was vice min­is­ter Caro­line Ro­jas Hayes, of the Colom­bian min­istry of mines and en­ergy, who kicked off the sym­po­sium with a wel­come to all the del­e­gates. She dis­cussed Colom­bian emer­ald min­ing in gen­eral, along with spe­cific is­sues fac­ing the small-scale and ar­ti­sanal min­ing com­mu­nity and the need to for­malise many of those work­ing in this sec­tor.

Later, Colom­bia’s min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs, Car­los Holmes Tru­jillo, con­tin­ued the dis­cus­sion on re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing while out­lin­ing poli­cies that are in­tended to help the en­tire emer­ald in­dus­try

sup­ply chain, in­clud­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment. Mon­ica Maria Grand Marin, of the direc­torate of mine for­mal­i­sa­tion un­der the min­istry of mines and en­ergy, ex­plained how the gov­ern­ment works with un­li­censed min­ers to help them ac­quire le­gal sta­tus and to work in ac­cor­dance with na­tional stan­dards. “We also pro­vide as­sis­tance to firms to se­cure fi­nanc­ing and also check to en­sure that they are fol­low­ing safety pro­ce­dures,” she com­mented.

Among the key­note speak­ers was Ed­win Molina, pres­i­dent of the Colom­bian Emer­ald Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (Apre­col), which groups emer­ald pro­duc­ers and pro­motes es­tab­lished best prac­tices and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives, along with eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment. Founded in 2002, Apre­col works along­side the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment to help set pol­icy and sup­port sus­tain­able emer­ald pro­duc­tion. It re­cently es­tab­lished a se­condary emer­ald re­cov­ery plant, work­ing with ar­ti­sanal and lo­cal min­ers, to dis­pose min­ing waste in an ecofriendly man­ner.

“We aim for more such plants with the help of the lo­cal firms through­out the re­gion,” said Molina. Apre­col also works with the pri­vate sec­tor to im­prove the qual­ity of life in min­ing com­mu­ni­ties. “We be­lieve emer­alds should re­ally be green— from ev­ery point of view.” As part of an ex­panded cul­tural ef­fort, Apre­col is pro­mot­ing an “Artist in Res­i­dence” pro­gramme to bring top artists to the western Boy­acá re­gion, where many emer­ald mines are found, and to pro­mote com­mu­nity classes for adults and

chil­dren to show­case their artis­tic skills. Im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture, help­ing lo­cal farm­ers and driv­ing tourism are also among the as­so­ci­a­tion’s projects.

Key­note speaker Guillermo Galvis, pres­i­dent of Acodes (Colom­bian Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion) and chair­man of the Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium noted that re­spon­si­bly sourced gems build con­fi­dence for con­sumers who want to feel good about their pur­chases, while re­it­er­at­ing the im­por­tance for the pri­vate sec­tor to work with the gov­ern­ment and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to achieve last­ing so­cial so­lu­tions for sus­tain­abil­ity in the min­ing ar­eas. “It’s up to us to have a bet­ter in­dus­try,” he mused.

Un­der the skil­ful gavel of mod­er­a­tor An­thony Brooke, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the main emer­ald-pro­duc­ing coun­tries, the ma­jor trade or­gan­i­sa­tions and lab­o­ra­to­ries spoke on a va­ri­ety of is­sues, with a fo­cus, as above, on ethics in the in­dus­try. These in­cluded Pramod Agar­wal (GJEPC chair­man), Jean Claude Mich­e­lou (ICA ad­vi­sor and Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium’s in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tor), Clement Sab­bagh (ICA pres­i­dent), Jef­frey Bil­gore (AGTA pres­i­dent), Dou­glas Hucker (AGTA CEO), Alan Hart (Gem-A CEO), Gian Carlo Par­odi (Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, France), Gae­tano Cava­lieri (CIBJO pres­i­dent), Ahmed Bin Su­layem (DMCC chair­man), Shane McClure (GIA di­rec­tor, coloured gem­stone de­part­ment), Ken­neth Scar­ratt (DANAT CEO), Daniel Nyfeler (Gube­lin Gem Lab manag­ing di­rec­tor), Clau­dio Milisenda (DSEF di­rec­tor), Tai­jin Lu (NGTC chief re­searcher), Prida Ti­a­suwan (TGJTA chair­man), Zhao Xin Huo (GAC di­rec­tor) and Luca Maiotti (OECD pol­icy an­a­lyst), among many oth­ers.

Ethics in the in­dus­try was also on the agenda of Charles Chaussepied, from the Re­spon­si­ble Jewellery Coun­cil (RJC). Af­ter an over­view of RJC’s role in the jewellery in­dus­try, he stressed the need for com­pa­nies to be proac­tive in en­sur­ing that the el­e­ments of their prod­ucts are sourced eth­i­cally. He added that gem­stones are also on the RJC’s agenda for 2019. Eth­i­cal and re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing were also top­ics of the pre­sen­ta­tion by Cathe­li­jne Klomp, en­vi­ron­men­tal project man­ager at lux­ury group, LVMH. She dis­cussed the im­por­tance for com­pa­nies to be proac­tive in en­sur­ing that the el­e­ments of their prod­ucts are sourced eth­i­cally.

Trace­abil­ity on tap

On the topic of trace­abil­ity, blockchain tech­nol­ogy was dis­cussed by Ed­ward Men­del­son, project man­ager of the Sus­tain­able Sup­ply Chain project at Everledger. He noted that the ad­van­tages of blockchain’s trace­abil­ity can play a role in the small-scale min­ing sec­tor and that “pri­vate” blockchains would be more ap­pro­pri­ate than “pub­lic” blockchains.

Con­tin­u­ing the trace­abil­ity theme, Daniel Nyfeler, manag­ing di­rec­tor Gube­lin Gem Lab, ex­plained the lab’s nan­otech­nol­ogy project re­cently ini­ti­ated with in­dus­trial min­ers. He in­di­cated that this tech­nique might not be suit­able for small-scale min­ers un­less a struc­ture could be put into place to or­gan­ise them.

A some­what dif­fer­ent ap­proach to trace­abil­ity was pro­vided by Glo­ria Pri­eto, from Colom­bia’s min­istry of mines and en­ergy. She un­veiled the gov­ern­ment’s fiveyear plan for the “Min­eral Dig­i­tal Fin­ger­print” project that started in 2018. The goal of the Fin­ger­print is to pro­vide an un­der­stand­ing of the par­tic­u­lar con­di­tions and phys­i­cal-

chem­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics that were present at the time of the ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tion of a min­eral, which then gives a spe­cific geo-chem­i­cal DNA. This Fin­ger­print can also be traced at the dif­fer­ent stages of ex­ploita­tion, re­fine­ment and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of the min­eral.

A re­veal­ing and an­i­mated panel dis­cus­sion on the im­por­tant is­sues of trace­abil­ity and re­spon­si­ble prac­tices was mod­er­ated by Jean Claude Mich­e­lou, Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium’s in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tor. Of­fer­ing their out­look for the ne­ces­sity of re­spon­si­ble in­dus­try prac­tices and trace­abil­ity, the seven mem­bers com­prised Daniel Nyfeler (Gube­lin Lab), Cathe­li­jne Klomp (LVMH), Ed­ward Men­del­son (Everledger), Charles Chausspied (RJC), Ed­win Molina (Apre­col) and Charles Burgess (MTC Muzo).

The min­ing sec­tor

On the min­ing side, speak­ers rep­re­sent­ing three of the largest mines re­lated their ac­tiv­i­ties. Rosey Perkins of Fura Gems (owner of the iconic and re­cently ac­quired Cosquez mine) stated, “There is a ret­i­cence about Colom­bia and its past, but this must be the past. We work with com­mu­ni­ties now that are es­tab­lished and re­li­able. In the last nine months, we have em­ployed 270 lo­cal peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence in min­ing and we are also com­mit­ted to work­ing with 70 lo­cal sup­pli­ers in Coscuez.” Among the com­mu­nity-ori­ented ac­tiv­i­ties, Fura sup­ports a health clinic, bak­ery, sewing cen­tre, and a women-only wash­ing plant for mine waste. “We even teach English to the work­ers be­cause that is what they have asked for.”

The pres­i­dent of Mine­ria Texas Colom­bia (MTC) Charles Burgess de­tailed the trans­for­ma­tion of the Colom­bian emer­ald in­dus­try over the last few years, in­clud­ing MTC’s pur­chase in 2009 of one of the re­gion’s most im­por­tant mines, Puerto Ar­turo in Muzo. MTC soon in­tro­duced mod­ern min­ing meth­ods and tech­nol­ogy and to­day has a num­ber of so­cial and health pro­grammes for the lo­cal com­mu­nity. One of MTC’s

com­mu­nity projects is Fu­ratena Ca­cao, which pro­motes sus­tain­able co­coa cul­ti­va­tion by farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties. “There can be no growth in this in­dus­try with­out bring­ing in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” he com­mented, adding that MTC has also es­tab­lished a cut­ting fa­cil­ity in Bo­gota for its emer­alds.

Ger­man Forero, di­rec­tor of Es­mer­al­das Santa Rosa, owner of the large Cu­nas mine, spoke about the com­pany’s so­cially and en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble min­ing projects in the Boy­acá re­gion. “De­spite a vi­o­lent past, our coun­try has a great deal to of­fer due to the na­tional de­vel­op­ment plans that in­clude min­ing, hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. The min­ing in­dus­try is an ex­am­ple of de­vel­op­ment in Colom­bia that in­cludes good so­cial prac­tices, the pro­mo­tion of em­ploy­ment and work­ing with the en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties to im­prove stan­dards in the re­gion. We are also com­mit­ted to com­mu­nity projects such as rais­ing lit­er­acy rates.”

The rather hot topic of mine/ re­gion ori­gin de­ter­mi­na­tion was dis­cussed at length in a panel dis­cus­sion led by Shane McClure of GIA. Mem­bers in­cluded Clau­dio Milisenda (DSEF), Tai­jin Lu (NGTC) and Ken­neth Scar­ratt (DANAT). While they gen­er­ally agreed that ori­gin de­ter­mi­na­tion is im­por­tant to to­day’s con­sumer, the re­al­ity is that it is not al­ways straight­for­ward or sim­ple. Scar­ratt summed up the prob­lem, “You need hun­dreds of thou­sands of spec­i­mens, and that’s the easy part. The dif­fi­cult part is hav­ing the in­stru­men­ta­tion and the peo­ple with the right train­ing to create data­bases that peo­ple can use around the world. This is a phe­nom­e­nal task that no sin­gle lab has ever been able to achieve. The enor­mity of this task is mind­bog­gling.” Treat­ments and jewels A num­ber of in­for­ma­tive talks dealt with treat­ments, in­clud­ing the topic “Resin-Filled Fis­sures with ‘Oil-Like’ Films – Con­cerns and Chal­lenges” pre­sented by Ga­gan Choud­hary, deputy di­rec­tor of GJEPC’s Gem Test­ing Lab­o­ra­tory, Jaipur. He ex­plained the types and pro­cesses of fill­ing emer­alds, as well as their ob­ser­va­tional fea­tures and as­so­ci­ated prob­lems when clean­ing a filled gem, while not­ing that treat­ments and their dis­clo­sure are still ar­eas of con­cern for the emer­ald in­dus­try.

On the jewellery side, Ioan­nis Alexan­dris, pres­i­dent of Ge­molithos, gave an in­ter­est­ing

De­spite a vi­o­lent past, our coun­try has a great deal to of­fer due to the na­tional de­vel­op­ment plans that in­clude min­ing, hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. The min­ing in­dus­try is an ex­am­ple of de­vel­op­ment in Colom­bia that in­cludes good so­cial prac­tices, the pro­mo­tion of em­ploy­ment and work­ing with the en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties to im­prove stan­dards in the re­gion.

pre­sen­ta­tion on “Old Mine Emer­alds,” which in­cluded a num­ber of beau­ti­ful an­tique and vin­tage pieces of jewellery and ob­jets d’art. Jewellery ex­pert Joanna Hardy traced emer­ald jewellery through the mil­len­nia, while pro­fes­sor Cle­men­cia Plazas of the Con­tem­po­rary Jewelry School in Colom­bia delved into the fas­ci­nat­ing sym­bol­ism and at­trac­tion for emer­alds used in the pre-Colom­bian era.

Mov­ing up a few thou­sand years to the present, Richa Goyal Sikri, a so­cial me­dia ex­pert, touted the ben­e­fits of In­sta­gram, ex­plain­ing that peo­ple who use this plat­form are gen­er­ally look­ing for au­then­tic­ity. She rec­om­mended that “peo­ple who post their prod­ucts don’t try to sell, but rather build trust with their fol­low­ers.”

The at­ten­dees were also treated to a spec­tac­u­lar gala din­ner and fash­ion show of sump­tu­ous emer­ald jewellery and Colom­bian tra­di­tional dresses, a fit­ting con­clu­sion to Talk­ing Green at the Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium.

The Plaza Bo­li­var is at the heart of his­tor­i­cal Bo­gota and dates to the pre-Colom­bia times, an era where Colom­bian emer­alds were also highly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Mod­er­a­tor An­thony Brooke over­saw more than 75 pre­sen­ta­tions on emer­alds at the Sec­ond World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium.

Ga­gan Choud­hary (GJEPC Gem Test­ing Lab) re­ceives a thank-you gift for his pre­sen­ta­tion on “Resin-Filled Fis­sures with ‘Oil-Like’ Films.”

Ed­win Molina, pres­i­dent of Apre­col, stressed that “emer­alds should re­ally be green—from ev­ery point of view.”

Guillermo Galvis, chair­man of the World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium and pres­i­dent of Acodes (left) with Os­car Ba­quero, pres­i­dent of Fedesmer­al­das.

A model dressed in tra­di­tional Colom­bian at­tire wears emer­ald ear­rings dur­ing the gala din­ner at the World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium. The but­ter­flies on the screen re­flect the fa­mous blue Mor­pho but­ter­flies of Colom­bia, which are one of 3,000 va­ri­eties found in the South Amer­i­can na­tion.

Gem-A CEO Alan Hart spoke about ter­mi­nol­ogy is­sues, the rapidly chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment, cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, green is­sues and how ed­u­ca­tion pro­vides value to con­sumers and the trade.

Charles Burgess, pres­i­dent of MTC Muzo, which will cel­e­brate its 10th an­niver­sary in 2019, de­tails the great trans­for­ma­tion of the Colom­bian emer­ald in­dus­try over the last decade.

A seven-mem­ber panel, mod­er­ated by Jean Claude Mich­e­lou, dis­cussed re­spon­si­ble prac­tices and trace­abil­ity. (From left) Jean Claude Mich­e­lou, World Emer­ald Sym­po­sium; Daniel Nyfeler, Gube­lin Lab; Cathe­li­jne Klomp, LVMH; Ed­ward Men­del­son, Everledger; Charles Chausspied, RJC; Ed­win Molina, Apre­col; and Charles Burgess, MTC Muzo.

The pre­sen­ta­tion “Emer­ald De­posits in the 21st Cen­tury: Then, Now and Be­yond,” by Dr. Gas­ton Gi­u­liani (CRPG/CNRS and INPL Nancy, France) ex­am­ined the ge­ol­ogy and geo­chem­istry of emer­alds around the world.

Speak­ing on “Emer­ald Field Ge­ol­ogy,” Vin­cent Pardieu (DANAT) spoke at length on the im­por­tance of ori­gin de­ter­mi­na­tion and how dif­fi­cult it is, along with a de­scrip­tion of emer­alds in Zam­bia and Mada­gas­car.

Tak­ing a look at “Old Mine Emer­alds,” Ioan­nis Alexan­dris of Ge­molithos of­fered a highly vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tion of fab­u­lous emer­ald jewels.

A slide from the pre­sen­ta­tion by Gem­fields’ Elena Basaglia, de­tail­ing the com­pany’s sus­tain­abil­ity and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity agenda.

Ed­ward Men­del­son of Everledger, dis­cussed the use of “pri­vate” vs “pub­lic” blockchain trans­ac­tions to pro­vide trace­abil­ity in the gem in­dus­try.

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