sale in Australia of artificially treated gemstones
Including Reaction and Clarification (below)
Jenny and I have been
dogmatically promoting the benefits of honesty,
integrity and authenticity within the gemstone and
jewellery industry and the benefits of genuine, natural
sapphire and we have always condemned the practice of
unscrupulous people who sell artificially treated or
chemically modified gemstones without any clear and
understandable form of disclosure.
had long thought that we were the 'odd ones out' as we
appeared to be conducting our campaign in the face of an
industry whose reputation was being tarnished by people
who were openly deceiving their customers and who
appeared to place no credence in the principles of
honesty and integrity but were tied solely to the
principle of making money by any means!
We have been very pleased and surprised at the way
attitudes have changed recently. Responsible people
within the gemstone and jewellery industry who
are prepared to speak out are now openly talking about
the problems resulting from deceitful advertising and
disclosure practices- and are determined to take
whatever action is necessary to root these evils out of
own Queensland Sapphire Producers Association (of which
Jenny is President) made a submission to the Australian
Prime Minister and to the Queensland Premier late last
year on this issue (click
here to read submission)
and we later found out that many other industry
organisations had also independently done the same.
As a result of these
submissions, the Government directed the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission to draw up a revised
set of Guidelines for the Gemstone and Jewellery
Industries to clearly define the responsibility of all
participants, from the miners right through to the final
sale to the consumer, for Truth in Advertising and for
Full and Open Disclosure of any Treatments used - and
to make the industry participants aware of the penalties
for breaching these requirements.
The ACCC has received
numerous submissions and anticipates having a Draft Code
available for release within a few weeks.
It is of great concern to us that, during our
Exhibitions at Fairs and Shows this year, many
jewellers have told us that they have either quit their
membership of the Jewellers Association of Australia, or
have simply not renewed their membership when it became
people, and there really were lots of them, gave their
prime reason for quitting the JAA as being their concern
that they perceived that the JAA was now dominated by
interests representing the major Chain Store Jewellers.
We were told repeatedly that they felt that the JAA did
not any more represent the interests of the smaller and
mid-size Australian manufacturing jeweller.
was even pointed out to us on a number of occasions that
, since the chain store jewellers sourced the great bulk
of their stocks as ready-made product from Asia, these
people felt that the smaller Australian manufacturing
jewellers were actually regarded as "the opposition"!
We hope that the Code soon
to be introduced by the ACCC will redress this
situation and will go a long way to preserving the
integrity of our jewellery industry and protecting the
livelihoods of our many good tradesmen.
In our own area on the Central Queensland Gemfields, it
is so important for not only the gemstone to be
authenticated, but also the place of manufacture. We
have many visitors who come here to one of the world's
greatest sources of sapphires in the expectation that
they are able to buy something that is genuine, natural
We understand from the
ACCC that the laws requiring disclosure of place of
manufacture are largely in the province of the State
Governments ,so if you agree with our push for total
honesty in the system, please lobby your local member of
Overseas requirements on Disclosure
The AGTA (American Gem Traders Association) has included
in its 2004/05 AGTA "Source Directory" a section right
at the front of the book which deals with 'Enhancement
Definitions and Glossary for Natural Gemstones" and
"Definition of Symbols for Specific Forms of
Enhancement" and "Information Requirements for Man-Made
Materials that Resemble Natural Gemstones" -
and they enforce these requirements!
New rules introduced by
the Japan Jewellery Association and the Association of
Gemmological Laboratories Japan require laboratories,
wholesalers and retailers alike to disclose all
treatments much more specifically than ever before.
The Australian Jewellery Industry
I hope that I live to see the day when our own JAA is
controlled by like minded people who enforce similar
rules on our Australian industry. I also believe that,
as the 'peak body' for the industry, the JAA has a
responsibility to conduct consumer awareness campaigns
to familiarise the public so that they are not easy prey
for the deceptive practices of the unscrupulous bastards
in our industry, and I personally have a hatred of the
radiation enhanced gemstones which are released on an
unsuspecting public with no proper testing and no form
of disclosure. How many cases of breast cancer have
been initiated or promoted by irradiated blue topaz
which is still in an emissive state when it is sold to
We openly admit to having
a vested interest in the introduction of clear
disclosure laws . Australian gemstone miners have
suffered greatly in the last few years because of the
flood of chemically modified, radiation enhanced and
artificially treated gemstones which have been sold both
within Australia and elsewhere without any form of
World markets are now
placing a very high premium on all gemstones which can
be authenticated as 'genuine and natural', and for which
the point of origin is known. All Australian
gemstone miners are in a position to be able to
authenticate the source and nature of all their
We at Coolamon Mining have
always issued Certificates of Authenticity which give
the details of where a stone was mined and whether it
had a simple, standard heat treatment or not. We have
never, do not, and will never, get involved in any form
of chemical modification, beryllium treatment, or other
'artificial' enhancements of any kind, and we believe
that the sale of such material without full and clear
disclosure should be made an offence punishable by
The stringent application
of disclosure rules by other countries such as USA and
Japan brings with it a short term problem until our own
Australian laws are clearly re-defined. We may only
have a small population, but we are seen as an affluent
country by many of the unscrupulous dealers - so we are
a target for their attempts to get rid of as much of
their adulterated product as they can before the
disclosure laws catch up with them.
and Clarification of the Above report.
I was contacted today by
Mr. Brian Seiver,
Chair of Directors of the Jewellery
Association of Australia,
who expressed great concern at my criticism of the
direction of the JAA.
Brian pointed out to me that the JAA were the
instigators of the review being carried out by the ACCC,
primarily over concerns about unethical advertising
within the industry, and that the JAA management had
been very active in bringing about the changes necessary
to restore honesty and integrity in the Australian
gemstone and jewellery industry.
He also stated, and I wholeheartedly agree with him,
that it serves no useful purpose for the different
players in the Industry to be at odds with each other,
as the restoration of confidence both within and without
the Industry can only occur if we all work closely
I know that I am not known for subtlety, and I tell
things as I see them - but I did not intentionally set
out to antagonise any one section of the industry and if
I have offended anyone, I apologise.
However, I do not back off one bit in my opposition to
the improper advertising and disclosure practices of
many participants in our Industry, and I am very pleased
that Brian Seiver has "put me straight" that the JAA
also has a definite policy of opposition to these
Brian quoted the JAA management as having " 100% support
for the total disclosure of all treatment on all
gemstones" , which will mean that people purchasing at
JAA sponsored Jewellery Fairs and from JAA members can
do so with the total confidence of JAA backing. This is
good news for the Industry and, with such strong backing
from the JAA, I am very hopeful that these provisions
will be cemented in the ACC Code.
I was also contacted by Annette Gardner
from the ACCC
as she wanted to make sure that it was clear that the
ACCC's position was to react to Industry submissions to
develop a Code based on the existing Laws of the Land -
but it was not the ACCC's position to develop new laws.
My explanation to myself is that the ACCC is an
interpreter of the Laws, but that the Laws themselves
are made by Governments. It is therefore most important
that all sections of the Industry work together to lobby
the State and Federal Governments for the introduction
of clear Laws to protect consumers against any form of
deception in the Jewellery Industry - whether this
deception be by false advertising, mis-identification of
product, lack of clear disclosure of treatments or
failure to disclose point of manufacture where that
could be a source of confusion to the purchaser.
I attach Annette Gardner's e-mail below to eliminate any
confusion over the role of the ACCC.
I also thank the dozens of readers of our Report who
have e-mailed or telephoned their support. It is not
possible for me to respond to everyone in person, but I
urge you all to be most active and vocal in your clubs
associations and guilds - and to speak out to each other
and to the authorities to ensure that we rid ourselves
of the malpractices of the past!
I hope that we all can prosper - and can hold our heads
high and be proud to be a member of an Industry which
respects honesty and integrity and counts authenticity
as one of its great virtues.
Regards, Jim Elliot. Coolamon Mining Pty. Ltd.
Thank you for copying me on the email.
I am concerned that the email states that the Guideline
for advertising in the jewellery industry (Guideline)
being produced by the ACCC is a mandatory Code of
Conduct and that the Guideline had been initiated by a
request made by the Government to the ACCC.
In fact, the development of the Guideline was initiated
by a request from members of the jewellery industry.
Members of the jewellery industry approached Commission
staff and requested that the Commission express its
views in relation to two-price advertising under the
Trade Practices Act 1974 (Act), as it applies to members
of the industry. The ACCC then approached other sections
of the industry to identify additional areas of interest
and concern to the industry, to be incorporated in the
The Guideline is aimed at providing members of the
jewellery and gemstone industry with information that
will assist in developing strategies to improve
compliance with the Act. It is not a Code of Conduct but
is for general guidance only. It should not be relied
upon as a statement of the law relating to the Act.
The Act contains provisions prohibiting misleading and
deceptive conduct and false representations in relation
to the origin of goods. State and territory fair trading
acts generally mirror the obligations set out in the
consumer protection provisions of the Act, including the
provisions relating to country of origin claims under
It is correct that the ACCC has received numerous
submissions to the first draft of the Guideline and
anticipates that a reviewed draft should be distributed
within the next two months.
I trust that this clarifies the situation. It would be
appreciated if you could correct the impression given to
other recipients of the email.
Senior Project Officer
Policy and Liaison Branch
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Phone: (02) 9230-9120