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The conference where the international community of thinkers and doers in responsible jewelry gathers.

The 2023 Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference and the Gem Boutique was held on August 11-12, alongside the new INSTORE Show which created greater industry awareness and will help expand our mission of creating responsible supply chains for jewelry materials and production.

Couldn't make it in person? You can now purchase the replay of the entire event! You'll even have the opportunity to submit your questions to our speakers and be part of the conversation!

2023 Schedule

Friday, Aug. 11, 2023

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

9:00 a.m.

Conference Opening

Welcome to the conference with Andrea Hill, CEO |Hill Management Group | Werx Brands; and Susan Wheeler, Founder | Responsible Jewelry Transformative | Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference | Susan Wheeler Design

9:15 a.m.

Keynote: Introduction to Incorporating the UN SDGs and Un Women Goals into Your Jewelry Journey

10:00 a.m.

Rough to Cut: Value Lost in the Current Gemstone Value Chain

8 Decent Work and Economic Growth10 Reduced Inequalities
Speaker: Chiko Manda, Managing Director | Perekezi ASM Consultants & Events

What do the exports of aquamarine from Malawi tell us about value and market access for artisanal and small-scale mines in the colored gemstone trade? Aquamarine is largely exported in the rough from source countries. The parcels sold to gem dealers are mixed with many grades of gem material, from commercial grade to the finest gemstones that could sell on the international market for thousands of dollars. How can we make the value chain more equitable for every person who participates in it?

10:15 a.m.

Opening Markets for Artisanal Gemstone Miners

4 Quality Education8 Decent Work and Economic Growth9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure10 Reduced Inequalities
Speakers: Sejal Karavadia, Director of Procurement and Vendor Management | Brilliant Earth; Anna Samsonova, Samsonova Consulting; and others TBA

While many of the colored gemstones mined come from artisanal and small-scale mines, the demands from large buyers in the name of compliance leave little room for true allocation of value for this important segment of the jewelry supply chain. Sharing the knowledge of what markets require to be successful and compete on equal footing is a way forward for the inclusion of miners worldwide. The GIA education program to help miners identify their stones, information sharing from Gem World to gemstone valuation, and guidance in buying expectations have paved the way to a more equitable supply chain for colored gemstones.

11:15 a.m.

Deep Sea Mining

14 Life Below Water
Speakers: Lisa Levin, Professor | Scripps Institution of Oceanography | UC San Diego

Description coming soon.

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch Break

1:30 p.m.

Responsible Silver

12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Speakers: Mark Hanna, Chief Marketing Officer | Richline Group; Will Nevins-Alderfer | WR Metal Arts; and others TBA

For the first time in the jewelry industry, we will address the issues around responsible silver sourcing. The origins of silver are complex, as it is extracted as a by-product of mining for many other minerals including copper, lead, zinc, and gold. Silver mines are located in the US, China, Mexico, Morocco, and across the Americas. The issues are many ranging from mercury in mining to the assassination of human rights defenders, but there are fewer risks than gold in many other areas, including less money laundering and more compliant large-scale mines. The silver jewelry market is on fire. We need to begin the conversation about silver.

3:45 p.m.

Sex Trafficking in Marange Zimbabwe

5 Gender Equality10 Reduced Inequalities
Moderated by Brandee Dallow. Panelists: Abigail Sibanda, General Focal Person | Marange Women’s Alliance (MWA); and others TBD

Can using a woman as a token gain you access to mine for diamonds illegally? Yes. Sex trafficking and sex work are, unfortunately, acceptable norms in mines worldwide.

5:00 p.m.

Onsite Cocktail Reception

Join us for light refreshments as we relax and catch up.

Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

9:00 a.m.

An Introduction to Ethical Metalsmiths Students and So Fresh + So Clean Student Exhibition Winners of 2023

A session with Shannon Kurzyniec and Chelsea Rowe, members of the Ethical Metalsmiths Student Committee and graduate students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

9:15 a.m.

Tailings Pond Spills and Water Contamination in Diamond Mines

6 Clean Water and Sanitation13 Climate Action
Speakers: Thabo Lerotholi, Attorney | Maseru (Visa Pending); Hans Merket, Researcher | International Peace Information Service (IPIS); and others TBA

Between 2021-23 there were three major tailings pond spills at diamond mines. To protect the industry, we need to understand what we can do to stop this growing environmental and human rights risk and help the communities that are still suffering.

10:15 a.m.

Source Country Traders in the Gemstone Supply Chain

12 Responsible Consumption and Production
Speakers: Moderated by Brecken Branstrator | Gem World. Panelists: Eric Braunwart, Founder, Columbia Gem House; and others TBA

The colored gemstone supply chain is often described as complex, opaque, and impossible to trace, but it doesn't need to be that way. Forging business relationships with source country traders can facilitate the traceability and compliance that the jewelry industry is looking for and offer breathing room to focus on lifting mining communities and source country business infrastructures.

11:00 a.m.

Gold and Agriculture

12 Responsible Consumption and Production13 Climate Action15 Life On Land
Speakers: Laura Galvis | Alliance for Responsible Mining; Roy Maconachie, Professor of Natural Resources and Development | Dept. of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath; and others TBA

Description coming soon.

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch Break

1:30 p.m.

Russian Sanctions

12 Responsible Consumption and Production16 Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
Speakers: Sara Yood, Deputy General Counsel | Jewelers Vigilance Committee; and others TBA

As the war against Ukraine continues, the US continues to fight the war through sanctions that directly and powerfully hit the jewelry industry. The only way forward for the industry is to completely change our direction and control the path that our diamonds and gold take to reach the bench. We will discuss how this can be done, and what you need to know to assist our government in the fight to help Ukraine and obey the law. No organization can take responsibility for you.

3:15 p.m.

Migration and Minerals: The Impact of our supply chain on the global movements of people

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
Speakers: Saleem Ali, Chair, Dept. of Geography & Spatial Sciences | University of Delaware; and others TBA

Description coming soon.

In 2015, World Leaders Agreed to 17 Global Goals

We have made progress, but there is still work to be done, and the Goals are more important than ever. The climate crisis. Ensuring no one goes hungry. Human rights abuses. Extreme poverty. Problems of this scale can be overwhelming, but the Global Goals(also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) are the solution to tackling them.

Thank You to Our Generous 2023 Sponsors

The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference would not be possible without the financial and operational support of our sponsors.

Hill Management Group

Venue and Hotel Information

Dates & Location

Responsible Gem Boutique
Free to attend, in person only.

Sunday, August 13
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference
Purchase Tickets

Friday & Saturday, August 11-12
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Donald E. Stephen's Convention Center
5555 N. River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018

Gem Boutique and Conference to be held alongside the new INSTORE Show.

Hotel Information

A room block is available for the main hotel for the conference and is .4 miles from the convention center:

Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago
9300 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont
Room Block
Rates start at $169/night