CIBJO introduces new Coral Blue Bookat
The 2015 congress in Salvador, Brazil
Precious coral has been a fixture in jewellery for much of recorded history, but it was only in2012, at the CIBJO Congress in Vicenza, Italy, that a Coral Working Group was created. Theinitiative to establish such a forum came through the efforts of a number of coral jewellery dealers and manufacturers, who not only felt that coral was under-represented and not properly understood in the jewellery industry, but also believed that the processes andmethodologies that had been developed in CIBJO for other industry sectors could greatly enhance the position of their product.
During its first year of operation, the Coral Working Group produced a 38-page educationaldocument, which described for the industry what precious coral is, where it is found, how it is harvested, manufactured and applied.
In many respects that document was a precursor for what would be done later, and thatwas to compile a fully-fledged Coral Blue Book. To put that process in motion, the Coral Working Group was transformed into a Coral Commission last year at the CIBJO Congress in Moscow.
During the congress in Brazil, the steering committee intends to collect suggestions and contributions from the CIBJO members with the intention of putting the final touches to theCoral Blue Book, which will then be submitted for approval to Sector A, and consequently tothe CIBJO Board of Directors.
The steering committee also provided support to an informative website about precious coral called Sustainable Coral (www.sustainablecoral. org). Its purpose is to inform about different types of corals, where they come from and possible treatments. Furthermore, this platform aims to raise awareness about sustainability issues in the coral industry.
Objectives of the commission and Blue Book:
The purpose of the CIBJO Coral Commission is to both preserve and develop trading in coral, and jewellery comprising coral, through the development and codifying of regulations and standards that promote consumer confidence and fair trade. The Coral Blue Book will be an integral part of this process.
It has been designed to provide knowledge about the product, as well as to assist all those involved in the trade, by recording the accepted and common trade practices, and creating a set of standard nomenclature for the industry throughout the world.
Corals can be treated to enhance their appearance, and such processes typically includebleaching, dyeing, waxingand impregnation, to enhance colour or the stability of the material. The Blue Book describes treatments and themethodsby which they should be disclosed.
The Precious Coral Blue Book is organized according to normative references. The termsand definitions areexpansive and are extensively cross-referenced throughout, associating the classifications of materials, withnormative clauses, annexes and tables.
The standard and rules are non-judgmental. The definitions and processes contained in the document have been formatted and worded to ensure that the handling and trade of coral is transparent and honest.
The stability of the marketplace depends on the declaration of all known facts about the product, using proper and standard nomenclature, thus ensuring a fully informed purchase or sale. This needs to be the case throughout the distribution pipeline, all the way to the final consumer.
A jewellery product for more than 2000 years:
Corals are marine invertebrates that have formed in nature without human intervention.Living in colonies comprised of genetically identical polyps, they secrete calcium carbonateto form a hard skeleton that ischaracteristic of their particular species. Billions of superimposed skeletons thus create impressive underwater constructions of different structures, forming cliffs, reefs and atolls.
The vast majority of coral is referred to as common, and these are mostly calcareous typesthat are usually found in reefs from zero to 15 meters deep. Precious corals are those varieties that are used in jewellery and decoration.Typically they are red, pink and white varieties, and usually found in deep-sea coral banks. They frequently are cut and polished, and develop a porcelain-like luster after processing.
According to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which is an international agreement between governments, most coral species are protected.Only a few (the corallium species) are allowed to be used for jewellery.
Precious coral has been used in jewellery for more than 2,000 years, as amulets, ornamental objects, currency, medicine, aphrodisiac, art material, talisman and even tiles. It was barteredin many Asian markets, years before the birth of Christ, taking on the function of currency. But its primordial use has always been as an amulet and personal ornament.
A partnership with environmentalists:
Corals are a precious and threatened resource. Speaking at the Pacific Precious CoralForum in Taiwan last year, CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri noted that our industry andthe environmentalists are on the same side.“The precious coral industry cannot be branded as an environmentally insensitivebusiness sector,” Dr. Cavalieri told the forum. “On the contrary, it needs to be seen that it isacutely aware of the environment, because it depends on a healthy environment and healthy coral for its livelihood.”
“People need to associate coral jewellery with good environmental management,” he said.“Environmentallyconscious consumers should go out of their way to purchase precious coraljewellery, and certainly not avoid it.”