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

Filtering by Category: Summit Initiatives

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

Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz Mine, A Model for Artisinal Gem Mining as a Foundation for Sustainable Economic Growth

Responsible Sourcing Initiative: connecting small scale artisanal mining with the consumer.   

Objective: Imagine, develop, and implement a model project that can be replicated using the natural capital resource from a region of artisanal small scale mining for gemstone as the foundation for “sustainable” economic development, environmental stewardship, and community security. Connect the story from source to consumer.

The Setting: A remote village, Remedios, Novo Horizonte, situated at the western edge of the Chapada Diamantina in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Latitude S 13 degree, at 900-1200 meter elevation. The plateau is a confluence of 3 diverse biomes, the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest (Mata Atlantica), the Serrado, and the Caatinga, resulting in exotic rare plant diversity.

Value added at the source. Sorting, processing, cleaning, introduce basic cutting & bead making. Empower Women. Focus on training women (not exclusive) in bead making and basic lapidary, all profits to the workers. This photo shows a weekly market for the women to sell the stones they collected.

Legalize not marginalize. Register miners in a co-op, legalize mining areas. (over 700 garimpeiros have been added to the cooperatives)   

Transparency. Create a certificate of origin and pay the required taxes to municipality and state for proper export. This view is the tunnel access to the Pyramid Mine.

Regenerative agriculture. Food security. Carbon sequestration. Implement organic and permaculture gardens connecting to France 4/1000initiative, UN food security.

Cultural sustainability, respect and celebrate the unique culture from the region. This group of children were playing in the village Remedios. The natural blending of cultures and race.


Real world example:

Located in a remote region of the Chapada Diamantina in Bahia, Brazil, the objective of this initiative is to brand the unique rutilated quartz gemstones found here to add value to the community and empower women by training in basic cutting skills. Up to 2500 artisanal miners including women, and their families depend on this resource.  Beyond supporting the infrastructure to mine and process the stones (including improving mine safety), the plan is to create sustainable methods of growing food, supporting an elementary school, and emphasizing environmental stewardship. It is contemplated that our model will be able to be replicated in other artisanal mining settings. 

The initial task of gaining support from the community, federal, state, and municipal government in the region has already been achieved by Brian Cook’s efforts in formalizing land and mining rights, legalizing miners through cooperatives. 

Creating the infrastructure to support the initiative is needed.  A facility to process stones, teach cutting skills, with a residence and garden including additional rooms for visitors to observe and participate. A Kickstart project promoted industry wide should be able to raise money for this vital infrastructure.