Policies & Issues

AGTA Forms Committee to Standardize Industry ‘Sustainability’ Terms

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023

AGTA Forms Committee to Standardize Industry ‘Sustainability’ Terms

Its focus are words like “sustainability,” “ethics,” and “responsible sourcing.”

Dallas—The American Gem Trade Association wants to get the industry on the same page when it comes to buzzwords like “sustainability,” “ethics,” and “responsible sourcing.”

Last week, the organization announced it has formed a committee to develop standardized definitions for these and other related terms.

The committee will focus specifically on colored gemstones and cultured pearls.

“AGTA was a pioneer in establishing guidelines for the industry to follow surrounding ethics, transparency, and sustainability,” AGTA CEO John W. Ford Sr. said. “We look forward to this opportunity to further clarify specific terms and consumer interpretations of them.” 

AGTA noted consumers are increasingly interested in supporting products and services that benefit the environment, offer fair pay, and work toward sustainability. 

However, a lack of consensus regarding words like “sustainability” make marketing tricky. Uniform definitions applicable to colored gems will allow companies to advertise appropriately, AGTA said. 

The committee’s goals are to provide leadership on this topic in the industry, help buyers and sellers communicate better, be part of the conversation, and to learn and grow as an organization, AGTA said.

More specifically, the committee will work on a handbook with contemporary definitions of terms like “responsible sourcing” to set industry standards. 

This is meant to counteract greenwashing, or marketing spin that makes companies and products seem more environmentally friendly than they are.

“Some in the industry are pushing the envelope on using language without proper documentation to reinforce their claims,” said Kimberly Collins, AGTA president and owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems. 

“AGTA understands that it is imperative to not only define these terms, but to live by them. This holds our membership accountable while providing peace of mind to the end consumer. Our new committee will complete a rough draft of the handbook in time for the Las Vegas shows.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

The committee members are: Jaimeen Shah, PrimaGems USA; Bruce Bridges, Bridges Tsavorite; Becky Scheffler, Rio Grande; John Bradshaw, John J. Bradshaw; Ron Rahmanan, Sara Gem Corp.; Jeffrey Bilgore, Jeffrey Bilgore LLC; and Vincent Pardieu, field gemologist.

Pardieu is the only committee member who is not an AGTA member, though AGTA has recruited his help due to his experience traveling to mines.

AGTA President Collins and CEO Ford will also offer input.

The committee formation comes after the recent Federal Trade Commission’s call for public comment on its “Green Guides,” the guidelines that outline what companies can and can’t say when promoting how “eco-friendly” their products are.

AGTA said it will work with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee to draft revisions and additions for the Green Guides. 

Soon, AGTA will be in Tucson at the AGTA GemFair. It’s scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 5 at the Tucson Convention Center.

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