Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2019, Vol. 55, No. 1

Jewelry Development Impact Index

The Jewelry Development Impact Index (JDI), one of the initiatives that grew out of the second Jewelry Industry Summit in January 2017, has become a flagship project of the Minerals, Materials and Society (MMS) program at the University of Delaware. Patricia Syvrud, development manager of MMS, discussed the program, which she calls a “road map to responsibility.”

The index is a work in progress; it has been part of the MMS program since the Spring 2018 semester. Rather than comparing products from various areas, the index analyzes the impact of sourcing and production on a given country. American University (AU) graduate students in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program have been asked to conduct country/product specific case study comparisons using the seven UN Indicators of Human Security as a framework. From there, they have devised a methodology for measuring risk assessment. As an example, in fall 2018, AU graduate students looking at sapphire mining in Madagascar and platinum mining in South Africa drafted a binary quantitative approach that created scores and rankings based on answers to closed-ended questions. Such questions included “Is this country a signatory to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative?” (Zero points are assessed for a yes, one point for a no.) After the total risk had been calculated on a scale from 0 to 10 for each category, recommendations for risk reduction were proposed. The fall 2018 assessment is being used and enhanced by the spring 2019 students. At the same time, a graduate student in the University of Delaware’s Energy and Environmental Policy program studied developing a methodology to compile existing indices in order to help the AU students leverage this published knowledge.

Syvrud, who has worked in many areas of the gem and jewelry industry, became involved with the JDI on a volunteer basis. She worked with the U.S. Department of State on prioritizing case studies and developing a methodology on measuring the supply chain’s impact on the welfare of a country, particularly since many gemstones come from fragile and vulnerable economies and may be used to fund illegal activities. It was decided that the best way to collect and compile this information was through academic research and case studies. During this time Syvrud met Dr. Saleem Ali, who had received a grant to create the Gemstones and Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub (GemHub; see Summer 2018 GNI, pp. 243–245). Shortly thereafter, Ali was awarded a grant from the Unidel Foundation to create an interdisciplinary program at the University of Delaware to study all extractable mineral resources and the science, politics, and socioeconomics surrounding them. He and Syvrud identified the JDI as the project that would anchor the MMS program and the MMS graduate certificate offered by UD.

Response to the JDI has been positive. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among others, has taken notice, and invited the MMS program to participate in their Responsible Minerals Forum during a “side session” in April 2019. Syvrud is hopeful that the JDI can help members of the industry understand and answer questions about supply chains; it will also help companies understand supply chain issues and adhere to the numerous supply chain certifications and standards to become more transparent themselves.

Jennifer-Lynn Archuleta is the editor of Gems & Gemology.