The IJL Great Debate 2009

Over 50 key people flocked to the third Great Debate, staged by The Birmingham Assay Office at IJL, the international Jewellery London exhibition at Earls Court, in September.

The event encouraged companies to work in partnership to deliver an ethical jewellery supply chain for the benefit of all. Chaired by Liz Barclay, consumer champion of Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ all those present were welcome to share their views.

In the space of just over an hour the debate brought attention to many issues including the forthcoming Fairtrade Gold project, ‘recycled gold’, certification of standards as devised by the Responsible Jewellery Council, the activities of mining giants and consumer demand for ethical products.

Chief Executive of The Birmingham Assay Office, Michael Allchin defined the industry objectives by outlining the eight UN Millennium Development goals, which strive to address poverty, health, education and environmental sustainability via global partnership.

Willie Hamilton of the CMJ Buying Group shared his long experience pioneering Fairtrade products in the food industry and said the jewellery industry can, and must, find a way forward.

Michael Allchin was pleased with the outcome. “We had a fantastic turnout and that in itself is a good sign” he says. “Big multiple retailers, major buying groups and small niche independents, miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Fairtrade, the Alliance for Responsible Mining, the Responsible Jewellery Council, CAFOD, Cooksons, Johnson Matthey, T A Durant, Cred Jewellery, the NAG and BJA and independent consultants all sitting around one table – it’s what we need in order to make progress.

If you look back over ten years you can see how much has happened. The objective of the Debate is to keep things moving and encourage more partnerships by introducing different people with different experiences. Looking around during the busy networking session which followed the main discussion I feel we succeeded in doing that.”

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