Jewelry Industry Summit

The Open Forum on Sustainability & Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Industry

The Open Forum on Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Industry

Progress Made on Establishment of Sustainable Mining Model in Bahia, Brazil

In a time of wavering leadership on sustainability and transparency, we can find inspiration in our peers. While hard-earned progress in environmental sustainability and jewelry transparency efforts face challenges at every level, one of the Jewelry Industry Summit community’s own members remains committed to empowering those in need, supporting the Paris Climate Agreement, and pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) forward in his own innovative way.


Since sharing their plans at the first Jewelry Industry Summit in 2016, Brian and Kendra Cook have continued their efforts to establish a mining model that empowers miners, their families, and the local community through the Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz Sustainable Mine to Market Model.



Located in the meeting place of three extraordinarily unique biomes- Remedios, Novo Horizonte, and Bahia–this Brazilian Bahia Mine region exists in one of the world’s most exceptionally diverse natural environments. Being very rural, this ASM community depends almost entirely on extracting the mineral resources for income — affecting nearly 15,000 people in the region.


It is here that the Cooks and their team seek to implement a mining model that employs natural capital resources as the foundation for sustainable economic development, environmental stewardship, and community security for the village population of 500 people.


“The goal is to legalize, not marginalize,” says Brian, who has a long and personal history with the Chapada Diamantina region. The comprehensive plan to provide long-term sustainability includes legalizing areas for mining and miners themselves, establishing an on-site processing and lapidary school, and creating a local intensive organic farm as a key component in educating long term land and food stewardship. “This will be generational, not just the next five years,” Cook says.

A women gathers stones at the periphery of the mining, and offers for sale. This is the low grade material ideal to begin the processing and lapidary school to give her the opportunity to add value to her natural mineral capital.

A women gathers stones at the periphery of the mining, and offers for sale. This is the low grade material ideal to begin the processing and lapidary school to give her the opportunity to add value to her natural mineral capital.


Through setting up a lapidary school, the Cooks intend to provide training for cutting and polishing, adding value to the stones by cutting at the source. This school will provide opportunities to learn processing and cutting skills for the local community, help to maximize the quality and value of the materials being traded, add economic benefit. The Cooks seek to encourage a diverse approach to the area’s economic development beyond just mining, including a regenerative model organic farm, teaching conservation of natural assets, and identifying potential endemic plants to help sustain alternative revenue streams to the area.


“Mining inherently is not sustainable,” says Cook. “When and where possible, we as an industry, could help steer mineral dependent communities towards sustainable activities before the viability of the mines demise.”

The highly sought-after Golden Rutilated Quartz.

The highly sought-after Golden Rutilated Quartz.


“All the good things we can do around mining should be done: safety measures, improving mining methods, adding scientific innovation, et cetera- but the parallel part is creating economic sustainability in other areas.”


To address the intersectional nature of economic development, the Bahia model will also support the UN SDG’s on food security and the Paris Climate Agreement’s 4% Initiative. Cook will utilize an organic farming method native to the northern region of the state, named Mandala for its innovative design; which operates on solar power and natural irrigation. The organic farm will provide food directly to the mining community and contribute to carbon sequestration.  The farm’s surplus will be sold at the market and revenue will be returned to supporting its upkeep. Furthermore, the organic farm will be open to the local primary school as an educational component on natural resources and food growing practices.


The Bahia Model seeks to be a replicable model for other areas of the world as many artisanal mining communities exist in poverty and remain disenfranchised. Brian hopes to reflect the potential of the industry to affect meaningful change:


“Shine a light on everyone doing good in this industry. The future needs to go this way. I want our industry to be a leader- be ahead of the game, not catching up.”


The Cook team is continuing with the planning of the Bahia Sustainable Mining Model and is seeking support from the Jewelry Industry Summit community in the form of financial management, advising, funding, and marketing. If you are interested in getting involved or helping to support the Bahia Sustainable Mining Model, please contact Brian Cook at  For additional information or questions, please contact the Jewelry Industry Summit at

Robert Weldon, Dr. Ruy Lima, Brian Cook, Naturalis Biodiversity Center of Netherlands' Dr. Hanco Zwaan visit the Pyramid Mine.

Robert Weldon, Dr. Ruy Lima, Brian Cook, Naturalis Biodiversity Center of Netherlands' Dr. Hanco Zwaan visit the Pyramid Mine.


Be sure to check back here for updates as the initiative progresses and follow the Bahia Mine on at Stay up to date with the Jewelry Industry Summit and all its initiatives at and on Facebook.

Restructuring, Updates and See You in 2018!

Dear Summit Attendees/Friends of the Jewelry Industry Summit:

There’s movement in our movement! Three years of collaboration, two Summits and hundreds of committed jewelry professionals have combined to foster greater transparency, sustainability and responsibility in our industry-- and we’re just getting started.

To enhance our ability to support initiatives and manage the growing momentum of the Summit, the Planning and Stewardship committees combined to create a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee exists to manage the Jewelry Industry Summit and address the needs of Sustainable Funding, Summit Planning, Initiative Monitoring, and Marketing.

The Steering Committee includes:

Cecilia L. Gardner, Raymond Hakimi, Richard A Nehls, Zephen Specht, Samuel Shiroff, Susan Wheeler, Gill Goshen, Kevin Reilly, Fred Knobloch, Klemens Link, Walter McTeigue, Jared Holstein, Stephen Feldman, Assheton Carter, Mark Tremonti, Girma Woldetinsae, Vivien Johnston, Mark Hanna, Joel Borgquist, Mike Pace, Sara Yood, Anna Bario and Robert Bentley.

There are four groups within the Committee: The Funding Group, led by Mike Pace, the Summit Planning Group led by Raymond Hakimi and Sara Yood, the Initiatives Group led by Susan Wheeler, and the Marketing Group, currently led by Cecilia Gardner.

The Funding Group has presented a preliminary budget for the next Summit; we would love to hear from any parties interested in sponsoring the event, there are opportunities at all levels. To learn more about summit sponsorship opportunities, click here:

The Summit Planning Group is hard at work planning the next Summit, scheduled for March 9-10, 2018 in New York City just prior to the JA NY Spring Show. Registration for the Summit will include entry in the JA show. Registration will be open soon:  stay tuned!!!!

The Marketing Group is focusing on internal Summit and Steering Committee communications and will work closely with the Marketing initiative to keep our community informed about our progress.

Here are some highlights of Initiatives’ progress:    

  • The #ResponsibleJewelryStories marketing group has met regularly and is creating the framework from which content pertaining to summit activity, Initiative activity, and the larger discussion of sustainable and responsible practices throughout all segments of the industry will be disseminated to both the public and trade.

  • The Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz mine to market sustainability model currently seeks assistance with an advisory team, marketing support and social media.

  • The Jewelry Development Index framework progresses with assistance from the US State Department and graduate students at American University.

  • Sales Associate and Consumer Training seeks partners to connect with already existing retail training (such as Fair Trade Gold) and seeks additional educational resources.

  • The Glossary Project has met regularly and is working on finalizing a set of definitions for key words which will then be presented to industry for comment.

  • The Mercury-Free Artisanal Gold Mining group presented their goals at the Santa Fe Symposium where they received promises of industry support; they’ve also interfaced with academics and continue to gain momentum.

  • The Silicosis Project continues to work with other associations and partners in the field to develop a working project to assist gem cutters in India.

Questions? Please make sure to friend the Jewelry Industry Summit on Facebook, and check with our web site for updates and to learn more!!!

Hope to see you in NYC in March 2018!!! SAVE THE DATE!!!

For all other information regarding The Summit and its Initiatives, please contact us at

2017 Final Summit Report

Firstly, we want to thank everyone that attended for making the second Jewelry Industry Summit a success! Nearly 150 people from 14 different countries came together to continue the work begun in New York in March of 2016, to take collective action towards strengthening our sustainable and responsible supply chain.

The goals of the second Summit included the development of a shared vision for key segments of the industry supply chain that support the broader industry vision for sustainable business and responsible sourcing.  Another important goal was to develop practical tools and strategies that are easily accessible, allowing businesses to make progress through continuous improvement.

Building on existing efforts and generating new initiatives, participants at the Second Jewelry Industry Summit engaged in dynamic and innovative ways to make their mark on the responsible jewelry movement. The initiatives created touch on a broad range of the jewelry supply chain and reflect the creative ways that anyone can participate in advancing the Summit mission, including some of the following:

  • The Small Jeweler Ethical Toolkit: A virtual toolkit to aid small jewelers in understanding the issues and existing standards in the jewelry industry. It also aims to provide resources and tools to help small jewelers on their ethical journey.
  • Sales Associate and Consumer Training: Getting the message out! This initiative exists to provide training and knowledge on responsible practices for retail associates in the jewelry industry. By educating those selling the products, the message and story of responsible jewelry can be further disseminated to consumers and the public.
  • The Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz Mine to Market Sustainability Model: A model to guide sustainable development in mining, environmental stewardship, value-added activity, parallel activity in organic agriculture, and geo-ag tourism. This model highlights and exemplifies the positive global impacts made possible by committing to responsible and ethical jewelry practices.

Many existing and new Initiatives are well on their way to impacting widespread positive change within the industry, and if you're not yet involved, please contact us at to find out how you can lend support. These Initiatives will be implemented throughout the coming year by a group of industry volunteers energized by their attendance at the Summit who are committed to ensuring that these projects succeed!

[To read the full report, click on the image below.]

Speaker Presentations from the 2017 Summit

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Lisa Manley, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Strategy & Cone Communications

Lisa heads Cone's award-winning sustainability strategy & communications team. She has more than 15 years of experienceadvancing sustainability/corporate responsibility through strategic planning, executive communications, issues managements, media relations, and stakeholder engagement in both public and private sectors. Prior to joining Cone, Lisa was an EVP and regional practice leader in Edelman's Business + Social Purpose group. As a sustainability consultant, Lisa has collaborated with a diverse group of clients including Converse, CVS, Hilton, HP, Mars, PwC, Quaker, SC Johnson, Target, Timberland, U.S. Bank, Visa, Wrigley, and Xylem to integrate sustainability within business strategy, influence engagement and communication.

Cone Communications is a public relations and marketing agency that specializes in corporate responsibility communications and strategy. Cone is also famous for its series of studies on consumer expectations of responsible business, which demonstrate that consumers globally believe companies have an explicit responsibility to drive social and environmental change, and to address these issues through their operations, their products and services, and their unique expertise. 

Thea Polanic, Conscious Capitalism

Thea Polanic is a passionate advocate for the power of business to crate prosperity, beauty and happiness in the world. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. Conscious Capitalism is a movement dedicated to elevating humanity through business, founded by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.

The Chicago Chapter is the first in North America, and in less that 18 months it has grown to more than 1100 members. Under her leadership, the Chicago Chapter produces programs for the general public and private events for senior executives who are committed to leading organizations that are both purposeful and unapologetically profit driven. As a result of her efforts, the international Conscious Capitalism conference has taken place in Chicago for the past two years. Thea is also a member of the global chapter advisory board, which now includes chapters i seven countries on five continents.

Thea is also the Managing Partner of ClearSpace, LLC, a Chicago based consulting firm that helps CEOs transform themselves, their teams, and organizations to meet the challenges of the future and grow and thrive. Over the past 15 years, Thea has worked closely with many senior leadership teams to align their organizations with the principles of Conscious Capitalism: having a higher purpose, creating value for all stakeholders, developing servant leaders, and having health, values-based cultures.

Conscious Capitalism builds on the foundations of classic capitalism principles: voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade, and the rule of law – and adds other elements, including trust, compassion, collaboration, and value creation. ClearSpace, LLC designs and delivers elite programs for team leaders and executives who are prepared to make a serious, long-term commitment to their own individual development and collective effectiveness, aligned with the principles of Conscious Capitalism. 

Bob Mitchell, Vice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility, Electronics Industries Citizenship Coalition (EICC)

Bob is a 16-year veteran of Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, with over 10 years in sustainability. He was most recently the Director, Global Social & Environmental Responsibility at Hewlett Packard Enterprise leading a team of professionals in human rights, supply chain responsibility, and conflict minerals, among other issue areas. Bob also served on the EICC Board of Directors for nearly four years and was Vice Chair in 2016. He holds an MBA from The University of Arizona and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Virginia.

Electronics Industry Citizen Coalition (EICC) was founded in 2004 by a group of leading electronics companies and is a non-profit coalition of electronics, retail, auto, and toy companies committed to supporting the rights and well being of workers and communities worldwide affected by the global supply chain. EICC members commit to and are held accountable to a common Code of Conduct and utilize a range of EICC training and assessment tools to support continuous improvement in the social, environmental, and ethical responsibility of their supply chains.

In addition to setting and holding members accountable to core standards and providing training and assessment tools, the EICC regularly engages in dialogue and collaborations with workers, governments, civil society, investors and academia to gather the necessary range of perspectives and expertise to support and drive its members toward achieving the EICC mission and values of a responsible global electronics supply chain.

Today, the EICC is comprised of more than 100 electronics companies with combined annual revenue of over $4.75 trillion, directly employing more than 6 million people. In addition to EICC members, thousands of companies that are Tier 1 suppliers to those members are required to implement the EICC Code of Conduct. More than3.5 million people from over 120 countries contribute to the manufacture of EICC members' products.

Diamonds Unleashed: Empowering Women Through Educational Opportunity

Born in a village outside of KrishnAgiri in Southeast India, Maheshwari, was raised in a single room hut without plumbing. “My life there was very different,” said the bright young woman. “I sleep on the floor. I don’t have a bathroom.”

Her family are quarry workers and members of the Dalit caste, the lowest in India’s social hierarchy. Her class, combined with her lowered status as a female in rural India, promised to seal Maheshwari’s destiny at birth.

Credit: Kate Lord Photography

Credit: Kate Lord Photography

Gender Inequality in India

Women in rural India are expected to marry and live with their husbands’ families around the age of puberty, rendering formal education outside of the home little more than a waste of resources in the eyes of tradition.

“’Why study? Why educate a girl when her job is to raise a family?’…They’re the same questions every village asks when someone sends their girl to school for more than a few years,” Maheshwari explained.

Yet despite the odds, the bright scholar now holds a college degree, has plans to pursue post-graduate studies and one day become a geneticist. In a country of 1.2 billion where only two out of five women can read and write, her journey seems nothing short of extraordinary.’

Diamond Industry Supports Girls Through Education

Maheshwari’s educational opportunities can be credited to her self-motivation, her family’s determination and the support of the diamond industry.

Maheshwari’s unique path began to form when she attended a scholarship-funded boarding school of Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project. The first in her family to receive schooling past the eighth grade, her parents’ initial interest in her attendance had less to do with education than it did with security. “My mother believed that by sending me to Shanti Bhavan, at least one of her children would be provided with food and shelter every day,” said the scholar.

The scholarship was paid in part by She’s The First (STF), an international non-profit organization that works with local NGO partners in low-income countries to award scholarships to talented women like Maheshwari. Scholarship recipients exhibit what Christen Brandt, STF’s Co-founder and Director of International Operations describes as “a true desire to complete their schooling and help give back within their communities.”

A portion of She’s The First’s funding is provided by Diamonds Unleashed who in partnership with Canadamark, Dominion Diamond Corp, is a new company founded by jewelry designer Kara Ross, whose striking designs are recognized worldwide. Ross developed a unique method to support organizations that foster women’s empowerment. All proceeds from the new line go to initiatives to further the education of young women worldwide, including She’s The First. The pieces themselves are available at all price points, which is part of the company’s commitment to allow women of all demographics to own their own diamonds, while helping young women around the world reach their full potential.

The Role of Education in Empowering Women

Because of the resources provided to her, Maheshwari was able to complete her secondary education in spite of continued hardships. When Maheshwari was 13, her father passed away. It was devastating to the family, and gave her mother the added burden of providing for her children. Yet, despite the challenge, her mother encouraged her to continue her studies. As a result, “I got an excellent education and everything else I needed,” said the scholar who may now have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for herself and those surrounding her.

Credit: Kate Lord Photograpy

Credit: Kate Lord Photograpy

According to Brandt, she was also one of the first program graduates to visit the United States and to attend the Alumni STF Campus Leadership Summit in New York City.

Maheshwari recently helped create the STF international scholar alumni group, which connects scholars from all over the world for a monthly discussion. “We have learned the value of education in a girl’s life and want to pass that on,” she said of her engagement and interest in organizing the group.

“Given the chance, we girls are not just the first to get an education but also the first to choose our own dreams,” said the scholar, whose own dreams are well on their way to becoming reality.

Sources:, Magho (Daughter), a film presented by She’s the First.

For more information on Diamonds Unleashed, please visit For more information on She’s the First please visit

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