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2024 Schedule

Here is the current conference schedule. Check back often as we are updating the content frequently.

Friday, Aug. 9, 2024

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

9:00 a.m.

Conference Impact in Progress

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

Welcome everyone! We will start the day by sharing the progress of various initiatives that have been discussed during previous conferences, and some of the ideas that were even sparked from CRJC! 

10:00 a.m.

PeaceGold™: A Game Changer

Greg Valerio, Founding Director | PeaceGold™; and Christina T. Miller, Founder | Christina T. Miller Consulting (Moderator)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated to have 750 tonnes of proven gold reserves worth around $24 trillion. The gold resources have been exploited in the DRC since 1400 and the brutal colonization by King Leopold that fleeced the country. Many communities in DRC are living on vast gold deposits. In the past three decades, the conflict in the DRC has left 5.4 million people dead, and over 1.5 million displaced. We have an opportunity to work together to envision and deliver a generational change rooted in peace, justice and prosperity for Congolese communities.

11:00 a.m.

Rethinking Retired Mines and Waste: Regenerative Solutions with Mejuri and Regeneration

Holly McHugh, VP Sustainability & Social Impact |Mejuri Inc.; and others TBA

Join Mejuri and Regeneration as they discuss how recovering gold from legacy mines is being used in Mejuri’s jewelry collections. Mejuri is a founding partner of Regeneration, a social enterprise focused on reviving legacy and abandoned mining sites through regenerative methods while concurrently restoring surrounding habitats and ecosystems. Regeneration was created by RESOLVE, starting with Salmon Gold, RESOLVE thought outside of the box to tackle the serious and growing problem of waste at older mine sites. Mejuri is rethinking the jewelry industry, Regeneration is rethinking mining.

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch & Breakout Session

Break Out: Mercury Free Mining with Toby Pomeroy, Founder/Executive Director | Mercury Free Mining.

This organization is on a mission to eradicate mercury from gold mining. Hear the strides they are making and join the cause.

1:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS CONDUCT UPDATE

Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor; and Q & A with Sara Yood, President, CEO & General Counsel | Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC)

The U.S. Department of Labor's Kyle Livingston will present on the National Action Plan for Responsible Business Conduct (NAP) and its implications for the jewelry industry. This session will explore how the NAP addresses labor concerns, particularly within Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) practices, and how it can guide responsible sourcing for ethical and sustainable jewelry businesses. Additionally, Kyle will touch upon potential risks like sex trafficking within diamond ASMs.

2:30 p.m.

Go Global with planetGOLD

Mona Avalos, Sr. Knowledge Coordinator, | planetGOLD Global Project; and Juliana Posada Lopera, Miner | La Gabriela Mine- Colombia

PlanetGOLD is a leading program working to improve small-scale gold mining globally. The planetGOLD program works in partnership with governments, the private sector, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in more than 20 countries to significantly improve the production practices and work environment of artisanal and small-scale miners. By working to close the financing gap, supporting formalization, raising awareness, and connecting mining communities with mercury-free technology and formal markets, the program aims to demonstrate a pathway to a cleaner and more efficient small-scale gold mining practices that benefit everyone, from mine to market. Supported by the Global Environment Facility, planetGOLD is led by the UN Environment Programme and implemented in collaboration with the UN Development Programme, UN Industrial Development Organization, and Conservation International. Supporting countries’ commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, planetGOLD is making a significant impact.

3:45 p.m.

What is Fair Pay: HOW COLORED GEMSTONE WORKERS GET PAID

Eric Braunwart, Founder | Columbia Gem House; Percy Maleta, Virtu Gem Associate Malawi; Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor; and Christina Villegas, Director of Mining | PACT

Eighty percent of the colored gemstone industry relies on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). These mines employ a diverse workforce, ranging from diggers to managers, mine owners, and sorters. The size of these operations varies greatly, with teams as small as a handful of people or exceeding 100. A critical question remains: how does fair compensation reach these workers? The jewelry industry faces the challenge of understanding the complexities of ASM labor structures, including how a living wage is defined and implemented. Join our panel of seasoned gemstone professionals from the US to Malawi for an insider's perspective on pay structures in colored gemstone mines.

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2024

8:45 a.m.

Continental Breakfast & Networking

10:00 a.m.

How to Ensure Equity for 41 Million People in the Diamond Market

Stanley Zale, President | Zale Advisors LLC; Klemens Link, Director | Provenance Proof; Berenger Owondo | African Diamond Incorporated; and Kyle Livingston, International Relations Officer Team Lead | U.S. Department of Labor

While large diamond companies dominate discussions, only 10% of the industry falls outside artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). The door is open for a short period and presents a crucial opportunity to shape a more transparent and verifiable diamond supply chain, particularly in the wake of sanctions on Russian diamonds. It's a 'build back better' moment for African diamond producers, many of whom haven't fully benefited from their resources. How can we create a more equitable system? Our panel features experts from a diamond cutting center in Gabon, representatives from Ghana and Lesotho, and innovators exploring alternative blockchain solutions beyond Tracr and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP Framework).

10:00 A.M.

IN THE SHADOW OF PLENTY: HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE GEM DIAMOND MINE and The Kimberly Process Sierra Leone Update

Thabo Lerotholi, President and Founder | Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF); and Esther Finda Kandeh, National Coordinator | Women in Mining & Extractive Sierra Leone

In the shadow of the Maluti Mountains, Lesotho, where miners unearth some of the world's largest diamonds, a Basotho herding community struggles for basic needs. Healthcare, education, and electricity remain elusive, despite the presence of the Gem Diamonds Letseng mine, which is accused of human rights violations in the form of water pollution. Thabo Lerotholi, a civil rights lawyer and founder of the Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF, which is also a member of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC) for Lesotho), will share his experiences advocating for these communities and their fight for justice against alleged human rights violations.

11:00 a.m.

JEWELRY DESIGNER PANEL: DESIGN WITH A DIFFERENCE

With Jacqueline Barbosa, Creative Director | Barbosa New York; Melissa Scoppa, Founder | Melissa Scoppa Jewelry; Erin S. Daily, Co-Owner | Brooklyn Metal Works and Co-Founder | Specific Gravity; and Anna Samsonova | Samsonova Consulting (Moderator)

Get inspired by innovative jewelry designers who prioritize ethical sourcing, storytelling, and responsible practices in their creations.

Noon - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch & Breakout Session

Break Out #2, 12:45 p.m.: Action Coalition

1:30 p.m.

"The Ailing Forest", U.S. Movie Premier

Presented by Ana Carolina Alfinito, Brazil Legal Advisor | Amazon Watch

Awaydip Tip Mutaxipi / The Ailing Forest portrays the impacts of illegal gold mining within the traditional territory of the Munduruku people, as well as the latter's struggle for their land and for the forest. The Munduruku today number 13000 in over 100 villages along the Tapajós river, situated in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Today, they are at war with a constellation of extractive and infrastructural projects that threaten to transform their territory into a sacrifice zone in the name of gold and timber extraction, soy production, and hydroelectric energy.

In 2023 a group of young warriors from the various Munduruku villages in the state of Pará travelled extensively to interview those impacted by violent invasion, mining and deforestation. The result is a remarkable film showing the effects of mining on the forest and waters that the Munduruku people depend on, and the tireless resistance by the original dwellers of these lands.

*The documentary was produced by Munduruku youth from the Wakoborun Audiovisual Collective in partnership with Coletivo Audiovisual Wuyxaxima* and supported by Coletivo Audiovisual Da’Uk, Associação das Mulheres Munduruku Wakoborun and Movimento Munduruku Ipereg Ayu.  

2:45 P.m.

Radical Jewelry Makeover & Ethical Metalsmith's Better Jewelry Project

Nora McCarthy, Radical Jewelry Makeover; and Ana Brazaitytė, Owner | Truss and Ore

Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM) is an international community jewelry mining and recycling project focused on education and collaboration. It brings together jewelers, working together to examine mining issues while making innovative jewelry from recycled sources.

The mission of The Better Jewelry Project is to empower jewelry buyers to be conscious consumers, through the creation of open-source and consumer-facing educational materials for free use by independent designers, brands, others in our industry, and the press. We shine a light on complex issues in the jewelry industry, and present positive actions available to consumers so they can make educated purchasing choices aligned with their values. Our first resource guide, “The Jewelry Buyer’s Guide: How to Align Your Gold Purchases with Your Values”, will be available this summer.

3:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks

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


2024 Speakers

Stephen D'Esposito
President & CEO | Regeneration (and RESOLVE)

Thank you to our generous 2024 Sponsors

Anza Gems

Columbia Gem House

Hill Management Group

Instore

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

Steve Quick Jeweler

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.