Zale to Resume Tanzanite Sales

May 8, 2002

Zale to Resume Tanzanite Sales

While Zale Corp. says it does not yet have tanzanite jewelry in its stores, it announced will resume sales of the gem. Zale and other companies, including QVC and Tiffany & Co., suspended tanzanite sales earlier this year following press reports linking sales of the gem to terrorist group al Qaeda. David Sternblitz, a spokesperson for Zale Corp., says he expects to see tanzanite back in the stores within 90 days.

Zale says its resuming tanzanite sales hinged on the statements made by the U.S. State Department, as well as the quick mobilization by the Tanzanian government and industry trade groups. "Together they have taken significant steps to ensure the legitimacy of the trade in tanzanite," said the company. Zale points to the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols, established in Tucson, AZ, this past February, which comprise a method of controlling and tracking tanzanite, mechanisms Zales said help tanzanite suppliers back their guarantees that the tanzanite sold is untainted.

Sales of tanzanite by al Qaeda were never substantiated, and in February the U.S. State Department declared it had not found any credible information tying current tanzanite sales to the terrorist group. In April, charges were dismissed against STS Jewels Inc., a New York City tanzanite firm. STS had been named, along with other defendants, in a lawsuit by some survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

While the news regarding tanzanite was positive in the first quarter of 2002, retailers remained cautious, including Zale Corp. "Out of an abundance of caution, an unwillingness to be involved in a product if there was even a chance of a link, as well as an unwillingness to risk jeopardizing our customers' trust, Zale suspended the sale of tanzanite," a company press release said.

Robert Weldon, G.G.

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