De Beers Leads in Funding CIBJO’s Synthetics and Grading Rules Lobbying in European ParliamentOctober 23, 08
Please meet Sarah Winterton, the Secretary of CIBJO Europe. She is the lady in charge of implementing CIBJO’s three-pronged strategy to achieve a strong political movement towards EU-wide diamond terminology legislation in the 30 EC and associated countries, followed by the eventual adoption of a worldwide standard for synthetics nomenclature and diamond grading. A strategy document developed by Winterton and her colleagues indicates that it still may take between 3-5 years to secure these objectives. Winterton is in charge of, apparently, unlimited resources and, in pursuit of her objectives, she and her colleagues have already held some three dozen meetings with Members of the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, with the European Council and with Member States.
What is CIBJO Europe, one might wonder. CIBJO is a world-wide organization. So what is this new and unknown body, located in luxurious premises of the CIBJO Europe Secretariat at 19 Buckingham Gate in London? Just a few months ago, CIBJO’s President Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri informed his colleagues that the CIBJO Europe Group “is an ad hoc task force created to advance the principle of a single diamond grading and nomenclature standard within the European Community. The goal is to create a nomenclature standard in CEN, which is a European quasi-governmental consumer body that could promote a pan-European standard for diamond nomenclature.”
Who are the formal members of CIBJO Europe? Explains Winterton: “CIBJO Europe itself is an informal working group of CIBJO which is focused on consumer confidence and nomenclature in the diamond industry, a consumer facing project. The only formal membership of this group is Cavalieri as President of CIBJO and myself as the secretariat.” Thus a committee-of-two!
The strategy documents in our possession specifically
How do you get politicians to do anything? You scare them. It is that simple. Dr. Charles Tannock, member of the Conservative Party of Great Britain, and member of the EPP/ED Group, the largest faction in the European Parliament, is one of CIBJO’s supporters in the European Parliament. Tannock cites the dangers that “a lack of standardization and clear terminology risks damaging consumer confidence, undermining the diamond industry and impacting negatively on economies which are r
Secretary of CIBJO
Transparency and disclosure are the virtues to be espoused by the legislation. Transparency and disclosure, however, starts at home. Winterton is not a gemologist; she is Managing Director of the Political Division of The Communications Group plc. (TCG), one of Europe’s leading independent communications and (political) public relations company. TCG’s clients list shows as few hundred of the world’s largest and finest blue chip companies. CIBJO is not listed as a client on its website – however the Diamond Trading Company of De Beers proudly appears on the ‘new clients’ list. What does TCG do for the DTC? Its website gives the answer: “The Communication Group has been appointed to support the Diamond Trading Company Consumer Confidence Team on a broad strategic brief.” The DTC’s Jonathan Kendall is quoted as saying that TCG’s “strategic insight and focused approach has proved invalu
CIBJO Europe is basically an instrument largely funded and supported by De Beers. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton joined the legislative initiative in a minor way, they also support CIBJO financially and their officials have participated in some meetings in Brussels. Instead of going directly to Europe as producer (and as a certificate issuer) and lobby directly for a nomenclature, De Beers opted to try and achieve its objectives through using the international standing of CIBJO. Ostensibly, this is odd – given the fact that De Beers and CIBJO differ greatly in their respective synthetics positions.] Says De Beers: “We are assisting CIBJO by providing it with the capacity and the resources it doesn’t have.” Cavalieri stresses that CIBJO has its own contract with TCG. Winterton el
TCG is, however, doing much more than just secretarial services. Winterton, who is a top-class political consultant, has been designated to serve as Chairperson of the crucial CEN Workshop that will shape the multi-year European standardization approval process.
Winterton came to TCG in 2006. Before that she served as Director of Public Affairs at the British Retail Consortium. She has over 14 years experience in the political consultancy industry in both the EU and UK and has over 2.5 years experience within the diamond industry. Sarah comes from a “political” family - she is the daughter of Conservative MPs Nicholas and Ann Winterton, a husband and wife team of parliamentarians. De Beers could not have picked a more qualified person or company to achieve its strategic objectives. There is also nothing wrong with De Beers largely footing the bill for this highly complex, protracted and prob
Sarah’s Three-Pronged Strategy
The stated primary objective of De Beers, acting in partnership with CIBJO Europe, is, to “achieve legislative action across the EU that protects consumers from the deceptive or unfair business practices that occur with the misuse of the nomenclature used in conjunction with non-natural diamonds, including synthetics, simulants and treatments.” This pan-European legislation will:
¨ Standardise terms used across the EU;
¨ Increase consumers’ confidence in the diamond industry;
¨ Provide a solid base for future, sustain
¨ Support industry self-regulation: legislate for full disclosure in diamond nomenclature.
These objectives are laud
What interests us most is the strategy to be followed by Winterton. She suggests:
¨ Utilizing standardization as part of a step-approach to achieving disclosure legislation (using CIBJO Blue Book);
¨ Leveraging Producer and key Member State support to demonstrate high level concern and ethical urgency for action;
¨ Boosting EU Commission and Parliamentary support and momentum behind the campaign.
The CIBJO Blue Book
What we feel is missing is a chance for a reason
Look at the facts. Some 50 percent of worldwide diamond jewelry sales take place in the U.S. where compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s Jewelry Guides is mandatory. Australia has its Advertising and Promotion in the Jewellery Industry guide which makes the practitioner compliant with the Trade Practices Act 1974; Canada has its Guidelines, which were accepted by government and are based on the U.S. model. The hundreds of gemological labs in the world produce 3-3.5 million certificates annually. The majority of these certificates come from non-CIBJO standard labs. Hypothetically, if the drivers of the initiative would go for FTC standards in Europe, then global standardization would almost have been achieved de facto, without having to go the ISO world standards road. Such course of action, however, has no chance of succeeding – as we’ll show shortly.
Voluntary versus Mandatory
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission’s Jewelry Guides are the law of the land. Compliance is not optional; it is mandatory. Basically, in a number of countries a similar situation exists. Some gemological l
A CEN guidance document explains it as follows: “Standards, unlike legislation, are essentially voluntary in application unless called up into legislation or cited as part of a contract. Legislation can also refer to a standard as a mean of compliance. This means that compliance with the standard is indicated as a possible way of fulfilling legal requirements. Other ways to comply with the legal requirement may be chosen, but those using the standard have the presumption of being in conformity with legal requirements.”
Once ratified by CEN, a European Standard (EN) has to be implemented by CEN members as an identical national standard and any conflicting national standards must be withdrawn. A European standard, therefore, potentially replaces some 30 different national standards. Even if Winterton and her colleagues fail to get full legislation in all these countries, the standard will be applied in court cases and in a range of other situations. Let’s therefore not ‘dismiss’ the crucial significance of the exercise.
De Beers Wants Only CIBJO as Partner
Why did De Beers decide to team up with CIBJO, an organization that doesn’t have (anymore) any approved CIBJO-standard laboratories in the world? Why go with CIBJO knowing that the position on synthetics of De Beers and of CIBJO is quite different? There are historical reasons for this otherwise inexplicable relationship.
Historically, CIBJO was created as a European Consortium to achieve a common understanding among Europeans on the jewelry industry. When the prices of diamonds shot up, after grading was introduced, CIBJO tried to bring some order and honesty into diamond grading. At that time there was a proliferation of gemological l
In those days most European countries had a l
De Beers Mistrust of U.S.
About 10 years ago De Beers, which held Observer Status, received legal advise that should there be litigation against a l
Historically, De Beers was mistrustful of American organizations and felt comfort
Current CIBJO President Cavalieri has worked hard to expand the organization – something not really appreciated by the core group of ‘old members’. The latest standardization initiative is, in a way, precisely what CIBJO members never wanted: to have governments in charge of setting, or approving, the rules. On the other hand, and this is something Cavalieri clearly understood, if standardization is inevit
CEN’s Approved Business Plan
Many CIBJO member organizations would prefer independency. This may explain why the current very active political moves are kept under a low profile. Now we have brought this issue into broad daylight, let’s see what will happen next. How will the European standard be set? Winterton’s preferred option is for interested parties (De Beers, IDC, CIBJO) to enter into a so called Workshop Agreement. A CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) is a document developed in a CEN Workshop (and not, for example, in a Technical or Project Committee.) CEN Workshops are open to direct participation of any interested party. In a Workshop participation is not based on national delegations (as in the case for Technical and Project Committees). Workshop participants can also come from outside Europe.
Though it has not been publicized, it was formally agreed last month that a “Workshop will be organized with the objective to achieve an agreement on what constitutes clear nomenclature at point of sale for diamonds, synthetic diamonds, treated diamonds, treated synthetic diamonds and simulants. The permitted descriptors are set out in the CIBJO Blue Book and IDC standards and the objective of the Workshop is to formalize the CIBJO/IDC standards as the accepted framework for nomenclature in the industry.” With this objective, the outcome is prob
CEN has already est
Anyone reading that list will agree that CEN has, to say the least, been misled. How would 30 countries in Europe want to adopt regulations regarding the marketing of synthetics without having one single known gem synthetics producer participating in the process?
Why is the exercise dominated by natural diamond producers? What
Without Transparency the Exercise will Fail
Very few diamantaires – or even CIBJO members – are familiar with this lobbying process. We asked the President of CIBJO’s Diamond Commission for comments. He didn’t know anything
I hope that Winterton, as chair of the CEN Workshop, will have the wisdom to take the required time to learn
As the exercise is all
Have a nice weekend.