Positioning the pearl as the sustainable gem
July 9, 2020
A process or enterprise is considered environmentally sustainable if it can be maintained while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources. This is a tough standard to meet for most of the precious objects used in jewellery, for once inert minerals are removed from the earth they do not return. But there are organic or biogenic categories of gems that do reach the environmentally sustainable threshold, with the most prominent among them being pearls. Indeed, not only can pearl supplies be replenished, but when the marine environment in which they grow is kept pristine the quality of the product improves.
The pearl industry is more conscious than most of the necessity of responsible environmental management, and not solely because of the economic potential it provides. In recent years the increased incidence of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, brought on by climate change, have devastated pearl farms and the coastal communities that rely upon them for employment and their livelihoods. Global warming is a phenomenon that pearl producers deal with on an ongoing basis.
At a time when consumers are increasingly conscious of the impacts of the merchandise they buy, there is substantial marketing opportunity in being able to show that the processes by which your product was produced have demonstrable environmental benefit. This would seem self-evident, but is one that the pearl sector has yet to take full advantage of.
Among the webinar participants are Peter Bracher, Executive Director of Paspaley Pearling, Australia’s leading pearl producer; Jacques Christophe Branellec, Executive Vice President and Deputy CEO of Jewelmer, the Philippine’s largest pearl company; Dr. Laurent Cartier, from the the Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF, who also is the co-founder of the Sustainable Pearls Project; and Jeremy Shepherd, a writer and educator about pearls, who also is a member of the board of directors of the Cultured Pearl Association of America and CEO of e-commerce retailer PearlParadise.com.
The webinar was co-moderated by Edward Johnson and Steven Benson, and Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO President, welcomed the participants.