Professional Jeweler Archive: Tiffany and Zale Resume Tanzanite Sales

August 2002

Gemstones & Pearls/News

Tiffany and Zale Resume Tanzanite Sales

Controls and warranties on gem move forward in Tanzania

Tiffany & Co., New York City, and Zale Corp, Dallas, TX, have both resumed selling tanzanite, citing lack of evidence linking the gemstones to terrorists. Both retailers also said quick progress on implementing the Tanzanite Tucson Protocols, a set of guidelines designed to safeguard to legitimacy of the tanzanite supply chain, also affected their decisions to begin selling the gem again.

A status report released by the Tucson Task Force, which is working to implement the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols, said the Tanzanian government and Tanzanian miners and traders were working quickly to establish traceable documentation and a secure trading environment in Tanzania, the only place in the world where tanzanite is mined.

The Tanzanian government has released for comment regulations that would implement draft legislation to establish the Merelani Controlled Area for the tanzanite mines. The regulations would restrict access to the mining area to select individuals.

The draft legislation also calls for a new police station and zonal mining office at Merelani, with wardens in the mines and police checkpoints on all roads leading to Merelani.

In addition, the legislation would require each mining block to be enclosed, with access through a single gate.

Certificate of Origin

Tanzanian miners and traders also moved quickly to establish a certificate of origin to accompany each shipment of tanzanite, along with a warranty that the shipment was traded in accordance with the provisions of the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols. The Tucson Task Force is working to develop an international communications campaign that will publicize and encourage use of the warranty system throughout the industry so Indian, South African, Kenyan, European, American and other intermediary countries also pass on the warranties.

U.S. retailers are encouraged to require all suppliers to provide these warranties when they sell both loose tanzanite and tanzanite jewelry.

The only damper on the encouraging news from Tanzania was the tragic word in late June that more than 30 miners were killed after an air compressor supplying oxygen to an independent tanzanite mine failed. The mine is at Block B in Merelani. The area has been beset by mining problems in recent years. In 1998, a mine collapse in the region killed some 300 miners.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications