Climate Change Impacts Shallow-Water Reef Corals, Not Precious Varieties, According to CIBJO Report

The ninth pre-congress Special Report has been released as the world jewelry industry prepares for the 2023 CIBJO Congress in Jaipur, India, which is set to open its doors on October 3rd, 2023. The CIBJO Coral Commission, led by Vincenzo Liverino, produced this comprehensive research to shed light on the ongoing confusion between priceless coral types and their climate-endangered reef counterparts.

Liverino emphasizes the critical need of proper coral terminology, as defined in the CIBJO Coral Blue Book. This reliable source methodically divides valuable coral into three groupings, all of which are members of the Corallidae family: Corallium, Pleurocorallium, and Hemicorallium.

According to this strict definition, the majority of coral species, including those infrequently found in jewelry, are classed as ‘common corals’ by CIBJO, he confirms. Furthermore, the Blue Book classification excludes thousands of other coral species, particularly shallow-water reef corals that are already suffering from the devastating consequences of climate change.

“Effective communication of these trade definitions is paramount,” Liverino said, “given the widespread misconception among industry professionals and consumers alike that jewellery-grade corals originate from colonies in shallow waters, such as the Great Barrier Reef.” The corals designated as valuable by CIBJO live in very different habitats, flourishing in far deeper and colder seas.”

The inclination to group all species of coral together was mirrored in a decision made more than ten years ago by Thai officials, who banned all trafficking in the material following the magnitude 9.0 Great Tohoku earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. The ensuing tsunami caused significant damage to the local reef coral environment.

“The Coral Commission at CIBJO has been actively engaging with authorities, urging them to acknowledge that the coral species affected by this natural disaster are not those coveted for gemstone purposes in the jewellery manufacturing sector, which represents a robust industry in Thailand,” the Coral Commission President stated. We have emphasized that valuable corals do not live in the same ecosystem as those affected by the tsunami and, as confirmed by CITES, are not endangered species.”

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