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Commentary: The Business

Jim Rosenheim: Take a Stand for Coral



Precious Corals Need To Be in the Ocean More Than in Your Store

[dropcap cap=I]n today’s economy, those of us in the jewelry and design business can use every advantage we can get, and showcasing responsible and sustainable business practices is a good way to get a leg up. [/dropcap]

Not only is being a good steward smart from a marketing and promotional standpoint, it also is obviously the right thing to do to ensure the health of our planet. A case in point is red and pink corals — living animals that are being unsustainably extracted for use in the jewelry and home décor industries.
As an avid diver who has had the good fortune of diving the world over, I have seen first-hand the toll on corals throughout the globe. In places like the Caribbean, which I used to dive and see flourishing, once-abundant coral reefs are now sick, barren and unable to keep up with the pressures put upon them. The difference is alarming.

Why are corals important and why should you care? Corals of all kinds, including precious red and pink corals, are vital to a healthy  ocean. Deep-sea corals and shallow-water reefs perform much the same roles as rainforests. Shallow-water coral reefs provide food and shelter to a multitude of species and provide us with tourism, recreational, medicinal and environmental services estimated to be worth $375 billion annually.

However, climate change, pollution, ocean acidification, destructive fishing and removal for use in the jewelry, home décor and aquarium industries all contribute to the loss of the world’s corals and reefs.

More than 30 to 50 metric tons of red and pink corals are taken from the ocean each year to meet demand for jewelry and curios. Unlike other corals, red and pink corals receive no international trade protection.


With corals serving such critical functions in our environment and for us, continuing to take corals from the ocean doesn’t make sense: They are too precious to wear.

That’s why I and many other designers and retailers have joined SeaWeb’s Too Precious to Wear coral conservation campaign. I urge you to do the same. Alternatives to using real coral exist; living coral can serve as an inspiration for your designs rather than the material from which they are made.

Our industry has a proud tradition of supporting efforts like the “No Dirty Gold” campaign and promoting the use of conflict-free diamonds. Adding coral to our industry’s conservation efforts can have a powerful effect on the marketplace and ensure these precious organisms are left where they belong — in the ocean. And it lets your customers know that you are on the cutting edge of responsible business practices. That’s a win-win for all involved.


[smalltext]Jim Rosenheim is the owner of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, DC. Find out more about SeaWeb’s campaign at [/smalltext]

[span class=note]This story is from the February 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span] 




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