A future-oriented General Assemblyof the European Federation of Jewellery in Brussels

A future-oriented General Assemblyof the European Federation of Jewellery in Brussels

The EFJ members had the pleasure to meet in person for the General Assembly on the 17th of April 2024 in Brussels, in the heart of the European quarter.

On the eve of a new European Parliament and a new European Commission, it was a good opportunity to exchange views on the sector’s future priorities. “Thanks to our efficient work and cooperation, we have consolidated the Federation’s position as a key stakeholder within the European institutions. We will continue this approach in the next legislative period to ensure that the needs of the European jewellery sector will be taken into account.” stressed Bernadette Pinet-Cuoq, President of the European Federation of Jewellery.

The EFJ members also reaffirmed that one of the sector’s top priorities is to ensure the free movement of jewellery articles. Indeed, the jewellery sector remains one of the non-harmonised sectors in the EU. Despite the implementation of the regulation on mutual recognition of goods, operators still face barriers to trade in the EU, which hinders the development of the sector. This is why the Federation is convinced that the harmonisation of precious metal articles is the way forward, with the publication of a regulation to effectively guarantee the free movement of jewellery articles.

Jewellery is one of the flagships of the European creative industries and in 2022, jewellery articles accounted for the largest share (54.4%) of extra-EU exports of cultural goods, worth €13.8 billion. In the context of the publication of Enrico Letta’s high-level report advocating the strengthening of the Single Market, we ask the European Commission and Member States to support our call for harmonisation of the European jewellery sector, which will be instrumental in strengthening the sector’s competitiveness.” stated Laurence Chevillon, Executive Vice-President of the Federation.

The EFJ members also took stock of the state of play of the legislative proposal on “Green Claims”, which will help to fight against some misleading commercial practices on synthetic diamonds and provide consumers with an informed choice and of the Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, which will foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. The General Assembly was followed by a series of meetings with Permanent Representations to address the key issue of harmonisation.


Position Paper: Towards a harmonised EU legislation to ensure the free movement of articles of precious metals

The European Federation of Jewellery regrets that European jewellery products do not benefit from the free circulation, as several obstacles remain within intra-EU trade for articles made from precious metals. 

Indeed, the principle of mutual recognition does not allow the free movement of jewellery articles within the EU, due to many exceptions brought forward by Member States for reasons of public safety, public health and protection of consumer interests. These exceptions introduce additional requirements for the imported products to comply with before being placed on the market.  

In that context, the Federation applauds the European Commission’s willingness to fully harness the potential of the single market by enforcing existing single market rules and removing Member States-level barriers, as announced in the Commission’s communication on “the Single Market at 30“.  

  • Introduction to the world of jewellery production  

Each piece of jewellery usually bears two marks, one that identifies the operator (manufacturer/ importer) who first places the goods on the market, the other determines the purity/fineness of the precious metal.  

The fineness can be placed on the piece, either by the operator himself or by an independent laboratory, which, before the piece is put on the market, analyses and marks it. In some EU countries it is compulsory for the purity to be determined by a laboratory. In others, the operator is enough.  

The fineness mark affixed by a laboratory designated by the Public Administration of a Member State is usually called a guarantee mark, and it is a national mark that must be published in the Official Journal of the Member State in question. Each country has its own fineness marks for each precious metal. 

  • Why do we need harmonisation of precious metals?  

There are currently 27 different national legal systems concerning articles of precious metals. This means that an operator who wishes to export to another EU Member State needs to get previous information on the sales conditions in that country. This is a complex and burdensome process as the operator needs to investigate on: 

  • the national fineness marks in the country of destination; 
  • the design requirements, if any, for the producer’s identification mark; 
  • whether or not it is compulsory to have the products sent to an independent laboratory or body for test and marking before being sold. 

In addition, because of the coexistence of 27 different legal systems, there is no effective product surveillance in the market, which prevents, in practice, the detection of infringements. As a result, this leads to fraud channels, unfair competition and lower quality products.   

This also leads to a decrease in intra-EU trade for European jewellery products, as legal uncertainty displaces investments to other countries and other sectors. For example, Spanish exports were traditionally directed towards the EU. The absence of harmonisation has inclined the trend towards third countries, especially the USA, and there is a growing trend towards sales in Israel, which occupies practically the same place as Germany. 

  • Where do the main costs of non-harmonisation lie? 

The direct and indirect costs are due to the following: 

  • Finding information on the laws of the country of destination and any updates. The national authorities of the EU country of origin and the EU country of destination do not have the information available or if it is available, it only arrives after several weeks.  

Indeed, the competent office of the national authority does not know the laws that each country has for each industrial sector. Therefore, they usually contact the jewellery association of the country of destination and obtain the legislation, which is usually incomplete and needs to be translated. This process takes 45 days on average. Besides, in some countries, like in Spain, each consultation requires a prior payment due to the economic situation. 

If the operator is a sufficiently large company, they can also hire legal experts to inform them on the sales conditions in the country of destination. However, small operators are unable to invest in the previous costs and are therefore discouraged from selling in the EU. This often leads to a loss of interest for the jewellery field or to maintain the production at a small, national level instead of expanding to external markets. 

Furthermore, although Product Contact Points (PCPs) have been set up in each EU country, as required by the Regulation 2019/515 on the mutual recognition of goods, this has not improved access to information. In fact, the links provided by EU country are not user-friendly, as it is difficult to find any information on the requirements for articles of precious metals and the information is only available in the language of the country concerned.  

  • Non recognition of precious metals fineness marks that are legal in one Member State by another Member State. Indeed, for some countries, operators cannot sell their products in another country, before their articles are checked and stamped by the laboratories of the country of destination. This generates additional costs and delays in the delivery of the products.  

For example, in Italy, legally manufactured precious metals articles cannot be placed on the market of 18 EU countries unless they have passed an inspection and stamping at laboratories in the countries of destination. This results in additional costs for analysis and marking, costs for delays (several weeks) in the delivery of articles, damages to finished products due to product handling and additional marking. For some product typologies, the cost of this control is estimated to be as high as 10% of the added value. There are also costs for security and product insurance. Furthermore, the sampling of batches of goods carried out at the laboratories is not done on a statistical basis with regard to batch homogeneity. Internationally recognised methods of precious metal analysis are destructive. Often for these analyses, these laboratories do not use the internationally recognised methods (ISO/CEN) but other non-destructive methods, which are therefore less reliable. Finally, the analysis laboratories are in many cases not accredited according to international standards (i.e.: ISO/IEC 17025). Moreover, in the event of non-compliance, there is no possibility for the operator to carry out counter-evidence and therefore the operator must resort to the ordinary justice of the country of destination. An operation that obviously due to costs (also for the immobilisation of the goods) and time is never followed by the operator who prefers to have the goods returned. 

  • Fineness tolerances for precious metals vary from country to country. Being a high-value precious metal sector, even small percentages of variation affect the final cost of the product. 
  • Why do we urgently need an EU regulation ensuring the free circulation of articles of precious metals?  

The lack of harmonisation generates high costs.  

For example, based on a consultation with 250 production units of different types, it is estimated that in Spain, with respect to the EU, there is a loss of 23% of market share due to the absence of harmonisation, which represents some 51,52 million €. Furthermore, if there were imminent harmonisation, Spain would also gain in brand and image which would increase sales in third countries, adding 18% more to Spanish exports. 

In Romania, independent artists and SMEs on the field of contemporary jewellery have a considerably low economic strength due to the difficult and costly procedures to trade within the EU. Having a harmonised legislation at the EU level would lead to a significant increase of up to 20% in their businesses.  

A harmonised legislation for the entire European market, compatible with national trade laws, would allow easier understanding of the legislative framework and more companies to comply with the norms in their activities. It would also enable to decrease the dangers of the illegal/black market of jewellery, as well as reducing the unfair competition for companies complying with the legislation. 

Consumer protection must be guaranteed by market surveillance by the Member States and not by additional certification systems which are unable to provide guarantee, from a scientific/statistical point of view, of the precious metal content, of the presence within the established limits of substances potentially dangerous (e.g. nickel) or of the conformity of the diamonds and stones present on the object with respect to those declared. 

Legal certainty leads to greater economic investment and greater efficiency in the fight against fraud. Harmonisation will result in higher product quality, greater guarantees for the consumer, greater clarity for the operators and fair competition.  

This will favour the growth of smaller companies and thus better distributed economic growth. Therefore, only European legislation, compatible with national trade laws, could solve this situation. 


The EFJ supports a cross-sectorial framework on due diligence that is pragmatic and implementable

The EFJ supports a cross-sectorial framework on due diligence that is pragmatic and implementable

On the 23rd of February, the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD). It is now being discussed by the co-legislators. As regards the Council, the Czech Presidency is willing to conduct the bulk of the discussions during their mandate (from the 1st of July until the 31st of December 2022). In the European Parliament, the draft report from the rapporteur of the lead Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), Ms Lara Wolters, will be released by the end of October. Debates will follow within the JURI Committee, in cooperation with five associated Committees on Foreign Affairs; Environment, Public Health and Food Safety; Economic and Monetary Affairs; International Trade and Employment and Social Affairs.

In this context, the European Federation of Jewellery released its position on this important matter.

The EFJ believes that an EU-wide cross-sectorial legal framework on due diligence has the potential to significantly influence the way EU businesses will conduct their operations in the future and will define an ambitious threshold for countries and companies globally. However, the new rules have to be pragmatic, implementable and they need to take into account the specificities of the jewellery sector. Given that the European jewellery and diamond sector is fragmented and consists mainly of SMEs, the EFJ advocates for the adoption of an EU legislation that would:  

  • Establish a proportional approach which adapts the burden of the compliance costs to the size and resources of the companies.
  • Set up an appropriate support mechanism to help targeted companies comply with the rules, as well as SMEs that are indirectly affected.
  • Base the due diligence system on an obligation of means rather than an obligation of results.
  • Take into account the existing legislation/certification schemes in the jewellery and diamond sector to ensure consistency.
  • Ensure legal certainty for companies with clear definitions of the risks and duties.
  • Guarantee a level-playing field for EU companies at EU and international level to support EU competitiveness.

The Federation will continue to be fully involved, active and a source of proposals in the decision-making process.

Due diligence

Position paper on mandatory due diligence

The European Federation of Jewellery supports the idea of an EU-wide cross-sectorial legislative framework on due diligence provided that the future requirements are coherent with the ones already in place and that a level playing field is ensured for EU companies at European and international level.

Key points:

  • The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence.
  • The European jewellery and diamond sector, which is fragmented and consists mainly of SMEs, has been very proactive in ensuring responsible and sustainable mineral sourcing through the implementation of the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation and the Kimberley Process, as well as the setting up of industry-driven certification schemes.
  • Consequently, the Federation advocates for the adoption of an EU legislation that would:
    • rely on and be consistent with the existing requirements in place for the sector.
    • ensure legal certainty for companies with clear definitions of the risks and duties. 
    • set up an appropriate support mechanism to help companies and in particular SMEs comply with the rules.
    • support European companies’ competitiveness at EU and international level.
  • The Federation is committed to remaining fully involved and active in the ongoing decision-making process.

On the 23rd of February, the European Commission released a proposal for a Directive on
Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD), which is aligned with the European Commission’s political priorities of ‘An economy that works for people’ and of the European Green Deal. The proposal aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains, by establishing a corporate sustainability due diligence duty for companies to address negative human rights and environmental impacts.

The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) supports the idea of an EU-wide cross-sectorial legislative framework on due diligence provided that it takes into account the specificities of the sector.

In this respect, the EFJ would like to point out that the European jewellery sector actively prepared to comply with EU Regulation 2017/821 on Conflict Minerals laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of minerals originating from conflict affected and high-risk areas, that entered into force on the 1st of January 2021. The EFJ cooperated with the EU decision-makers to make sure that the Regulation took into consideration the specificities of the European jewellery sector, a sector mainly composed of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), with limited human and financial resources. That is why the EFJ helped to develop EU tools to assist SMEs in the proper implementation
of the legislation.

Furthermore, the EFJ would like to recall that the European diamond sector, which is an essential component of the jewellery sector, is committed to improving transparency and accountability in the global diamond value chain through the Kimberley Process (KP), an international certification scheme established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond trade. Council Regulation 2368/20023 sets up a Union system of certification, as well as import and export controls for rough diamonds for the purposes of implementing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

In light of the considerations above, the EFJ noted with satisfaction that the Directive proposal on CSDD aims to align with the existing EU legislation such as the Conflict Minerals Regulation and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. This is critical in order to avoid any duplication of legal requirements which would lead to an increased administrative and financial burden on EU companies, legal uncertainty for EU companies or even create incentives to companies to relocate their activities outside of the EU. In other words, if coherence is not ensured between the new requirements and the ones already in place, it will be more difficult, or even virtually impossible for EU companies to comply with the new legislative framework.

The EFJ supports the European Commission’s approach to allow companies to rely on industry-driven certification schemes to support the implementation of their due diligence obligations. The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is an industry-driven body and its Code of Practices (CoP) integrates the OECD guidelines into a special framework for jewellery companies to handle and trade gold, silver, platinum-group metals as well as diamonds in a way that is fully traceable and responsibly sourced. The CoP addresses human and labour rights, environmental impacts and responsible mining practices. The RJC represents a valuable and successful example of due diligence for the jewellery sector and has already applied to have its certification schemes recognised as compliant with EU Regulation 2017/821. Moreover, the World Diamond Council’s (WDC) renewed System of Warranties (SoW) provides assurances relative to due diligence and the protection of human rights and labour rights, as well as to anti-money laundering and anti-corruption practices along the diamond supply chain. Consequently, the European Commission should ensure and facilitate the use of both certification schemes while implementing the future legislation.

Regarding the scope of the proposed Directive, the Federation agrees with the European Commission’s proportional approach, which adapts the burden on companies stemming from compliance costs to the size and resources available. Although the new rules will only apply to approximatively 13,000 EU companies, they alone account for 50% of the total EU turnover, according to the European Commission. This means that the targeted companies are the ones with the most influence on the behaviour of other actors in the supply chains and have the largest impact on the Union economy.

However, while SMEs, including micro-enterprises, do not fall under the scope of the proposed Directive, they will be exposed to some of the costs and burden through business relationships with companies in scope, as a result of the effect of large companies’ actions across their value chains. Therefore, we urge the European Commission and Member States to effectively set up supporting measures to help SMEs build operational and financial capacity. This can include practical guidance and supporting tools such as dedicated websites, portals, hotlines, databases, platforms or trainings. It is also important that all EU Member States financially support SMEs, and not only a few, to avoid unfair competition in the internal market. Moreover, it is essential to avoid the passing on of the burden from those large companies to the smaller suppliers in the value chain. The Federation also supports the fact that companies whose business partner is an SME, are also encouraged to support them to comply with due diligence measures, in case such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the SME.

Furthermore, the EFJ fully agrees that third-country companies, which are not established in the EU but carry out activities on the European territory, are also covered by the Directive proposal. This is important to ensure a level playing field for EU companies at EU and international level in order to support European competitiveness. The EU trade policy plays also a crucial role in this area and the European Commission should promote the future EU legal framework in international fora, through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and high-level political contacts.

Additionally, we are satisfied with the fact that the proposed framework on due diligence is based on an obligation of means rather than an obligation of results. Having a list, in an Annex of the Directive, of all the different legislations that companies have to consider in order to identify, bring to an end, prevent, mitigate and account for adverse human rights and environmental impacts is a step in the right direction, as it provides for further legal certainty. However, because the norms included in the Annex are targeted to governments, it is uncertain and unclear how these rules are applicable to companies, and they should be redrafted to make it so. In addition, the Federation believes that the European Commission should come forward as soon as possible with contractual clause examples that will help companies comply with the Directive.

Nevertheless, while effective enforcement of the due diligence duty is key to fostering sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour, the Federation regrets that the current proposal focuses, at first stage, on sanctioning companies in case of non-compliance with the Directive. On the contrary, we believe that positively triggering and motivating companies to implement due diligence practices into their business structure as a first step, will prevent European companies from de-risking and ceasing their activities in high(er)-risk countries for fear of prosecution. The Federation also considers that the scope of the legal obligations should not be extended to the whole value chain but limited to a supply chain approach focused on first-tier direct suppliers and on a risk-based model. Indeed, the companies in scope cannot have control over the whole value chain and in particular on the downstream part (e.g. clients).

Finally, the cross-sectorial EU legal framework on mandatory due diligence should include a transition period of at least 3 years before entering into full force to allow national governments and companies to adapt to the new regulation.

The EFJ believes that an EU-wide cross-sectorial legal framework on due diligence has the potential to significantly influence the way EU businesses will conduct their operations in the future and will define an ambitious threshold for countries and companies globally. However, it is essential that the new rules are pragmatic and implementable, and this can be achieved only by keeping fully involved all stakeholders in the discussion and by taking into consideration the challenges and needs of the different sectors as well as their specificities.

The EFJ was founded in 2013 by recognised national associations from Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal, which together represent 89% of all jewellery items manufactured and distributed in Europe. The Federation aims notably at exchanging best practices, promoting the unique European know-how of the sector as well as developing a high level of education and research.

Diamond terminology

Position paper on the New EU Consumer Agenda: the case of diamond terminology

On the 6th of October, the European Federation of Jewellery sent its contribution to the European Commission on the consultation on the New EU Consumer Agenda. By its answer, the EFJ wished to flag the issue of diamond terminology, that can be misleading for the consumer.

Here are the key points:
❖ The EFJ applauds the European Commission’s willingness to reinforce consumer rights by proposing a new EU Consumer Agenda. The Federation considers that consumers must receive full and accurate information on the products they buy in order to make informed choices.
❖ The EFJ is committed to contributing to the current reflection of the European Commission in order to shape an ambitious European consumer policy up to today’s challenges and wishes to flag the issue of diamond terminology in this position paper.
❖ Protecting consumers against misleading and fraudulent advertising practices on diamonds, which own high financial and emotional value, is perfectly in line with the current EU political agenda. To achieve this goal, the EFJ advocates the adoption of an EU legal (or legally binding) definition that would:

  • define the characteristics of a natural and synthetic diamond and the fundamental differences between them.
  • oblige the trade to accurately inform consumers, by means of a certificate, about the jewellery product they are purchasing.


EJF position paper: new consumer agenda: the case of the diamond terminology

EFJ infographic: Diamond terminology

The European Federation of Jewellery mobilised and ambitious in this year of European elections

The General Assembly of the European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) took place in the prestigious setting of the buildings of the French Union of Jewellery, Silverware, Stones and Pearls (UFBJOP) in Paris on the 1st of April. An exciting visit to the Haute École de Joaillerie (Higher School of Jewellery Arts) opened this day full of discussions. A few figures suffice to show the history and fame of the oldest jewellery establishment in the world: 151 years of existence, 600 students and 12 workshops.

Under the auspices of Bernadette Pinet Cuoq, President of the UFBJOP and EFJ, the discussions allowed for further reflection about the full application of the mutual recognition principle for European jewellery products. Such an application would significantly facilitate the free circulation of jewels throughout the European Union.

International trade was another topic. The EFJ reaffirmed the importance of maintaining an open European trade policy towards third countries and is currently working to identify the main tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent the European jewellery sector from reaching 60% of consumers in the world.

2019 will also signify a year of change, as the European elections will substantially modify the political landscape. The EFJ will be equal to this challenge with the development of a new awareness and communication strategy. The members of the Federation will notably meet the newly elected Members of the European Parliament in October in Strasbourg.

At the dawn of the advent of a new European Parliament and a new Commission, the EFJ remains more mobilised than ever. “The European jewellery sector is faced with a growing number of challenges. We decided today to include the issue of synthetic diamond in our mandate. The EFJ will advocate for the implementation of a specific customs code to differentiate synthetic diamond from natural diamond.” concluded Ms. Pinet Cuoq.

Limits for Cash Payments

Position paper for a harmonised cash payement ceiling

The European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) has been proactive on the issue of cash payment thresholds over the last years, notably by providing inputs to the 2018 report of the European Commission on restrictions on payments in cash. Being a strong advocate of the introduction of a harmonised ceiling for cash payments in business to consumer transactions, the Federation welcomes the proposed introduction by the European Commission of a Union-wide limit for large cash payments of 10.000€ while leaving the possibility to Member States to adopt lower ceilings and stricter provisions. Although this proposal will not lead to a full harmonisation, the EFJ is convinced that this is a positive step forward. Moreover, as laid down in Article 63 of the proposal, the European Commission will evaluate the situation by three years from the date of application of the Regulation.

The Federation also supports the figure of 10.000€ as ceiling. Given the current significant disparities between Member States, the sector considers that it is a proportional and reasonable figure, which takes into consideration the different necessities and sensibilities of EU citizens.

Furthermore, the proposal should be reinforced by adding in the final text that Member States can not introduce different ceilings for national residents and non-national residents.

Finally, the EFJ is convinced that a regulation will allow for a more coherent and harmonised implementation of the legal provisions, which will reinforce their efficiency.

Key points of the position paper:

  • The European Federation of Jewellery supports the proposal of the European Commission to introduce a Union-wide limit for large cash payments of 10.000€ and welcomes the possibility left to Member States to adopt lower ceilings and stricter provisions.
  • The current different ceilings for cash payments in business to consumer transactions go against the internal market principles, have serious economic impact and can be a cause of money laundering.
  • Cash restriction limits often differ within the Member States creating unjustified discriminations among EU citizens between residents and non-residents.
  • Due to its market structure, the jewellery sector is particularly exposed to the current lack of harmonisation in the cash limit rules within the EU.
  • Cash remains the preferred form of payments in the Euro area: on top of ensuring the protection of personal data, it is universally accepted, costless, flexible and allows the immediate closure of payments.


EFJ position paper – For a harmonised cash payment ceiling

EFJ note de position – Pour une harmonisation du plafond des paiements en espèce

EFJ infographic – For a harmonised cash payment ceiling


Busy and fruitful meeting day in Brussels for the EFJ

On the 21st of April, a delegation of the European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ), headed by its President, Bernadette Pinet Cuoq, had a series of successful meetings with several representatives of the European Commission. The objectives were to raise awareness about the sector and its main challenges as well as to exchange on several key issues: COSME, the European support programme for SMEs, the EU policies in favour of creative industries, conflict minerals, market access and opening of third countries’ markets and cash payment limits.

Regarding the implementation of the newly adopted EU conflict minerals regulation, the EFJ reiterated its commitment to work with the European Commission, the OECD and the other stakeholders to enhance the due diligence responsibilities of its members.

An ambitious and proactive approach was also defended during the high level meeting with the Cabinet of Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. The EFJ advocated the adoption of a European harmonisation of cash payment thresholds in order, notably, to achieve a level playing field between the economic actors on the European territory.

The representatives of the European Commission welcomed warmly the EFJ and were happy to get information on this high value sector. This first day of fruitful meetings set the foundation for a deeper involvement of the Federation in the European scene.