December 19, 2001
Beesley Decries ABC News' Tanzanite Story
American Gem Laboratories president Cap Beesley says his remarks to ABC News' Brian Ross were taken out of context in the Dec. 14 report "Gem May Fund Terrorism" and says he sent a letter of protest to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings. In the segment, Beesley agreed with the allegations that have been made regarding a connection: "There is no question that there is a connection to terrorism," he said emphatically. Beesley went on to make a specific connection between tanzanite and al Qaeda.
"The skewed presentation was tainted by Ross's apparent agenda and was a disservice to ABC News and the miners, retailers and dealers that abhor any activity associated with terrorism," he says. "It really isnt a question of a connection that's already been established in court documents but the extent of the connection. I know there are plenty of tanzanite dealers who are conducting business ethically, but there may be a few who are not."
Temporarily suspending sales of tanzanite is not the answer, he says. "Tiffany and QVC did not stop selling diamonds when confronted with the reality of conflict diamonds funding ethnic wars and terrorism in Africa," he says. "They dealt with the issue in a more responsible and effective way."
Beesley advises reassuring customers about the gems being sold, including tanzanite. "We are living a new reality now, and jewelers have to ask their suppliers the tough questions. The suppliers also have to ask those questions of their brokers and middlemen," he says. "We all have to be more vigilant. We have to conduct business with our eyes wide open." Similar measures shave already been proposed by a coalition of industry associations such as Jewelers of America, American Gem Trade Association, and the Jeweler's Vigilance Committee. See Major Gem and Jewelry Associations Respond to Tanzanite Allegations.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.