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Apology to non-US Orchid members


#1

Hello,

I for one would like to apologize for certain fellow Americans and
their definitely anti Non-USA posts. I have only been on Ganoksin a
month, but I have already read many such posts. I hope that my post
might explain to members in other countries why and how the
"hopefully" sudden bias and suspicion of non USA companies has
started.

The US govt has passed 2 laws that greatly effect the jewelry
industry. The Kimberly Act and the Patriot Act. The Kimberly is
fairly limiting in scope, requiring jewelers to be able to trace
origins of rough diamonds so that they are not from "confict"
countries (note, there is no requirement on already cut diamonds).
Many of you may have similar laws in your countries regarding these
so-called “blood diamonds”.

The Patriot Act on the other had is a whole different ball game. It
requires jewelers and jewelry, gem, and precious metal (including
silver) sellers of over $50,000 a year in sales to now try to police
both suppliers and customers to attempt to crack down on money
laudering activities of terrorist organizations. It MAY require
being able to trace origins of gems, and avoiding buying of gems and
jewelry from suppliers in countries that are considered “terrorist
havens” as well as countries where the US government suspects that
terrorists are buying and selling such items. Unfortunately since
although they are not considered “terrorist havens”, Thailand and
India are considered to be countries in the latter category, since
the bulk of gemstones seem to move through these countries. It also
requires background checks on customers of susbstantial sized
purchases.

US jewelers have less than five months to come up with policies to
adhere to these laws or face possible prosecution and jail time.
The trick on us is that THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO GUIDELINES for us to
follow on how to do this. I doubt that other than knowing it was
illegal that the vast majority of jewelers on Orchid had a clue as
to what money laundering actually involved before last year.

The Patriot Act itself is purposely vague, and hard to decipher for
even those of us with experience in reading obscure legal
terminology. I’ve had post-graduate level college training in
reading the tax laws as a tax accountant, and I’m stymied.
Prestigious US companies such as Cartier and Tiffany have teams of
attorneys who are even stymied. Most of the US code of regulations
is full of legal jargon so confusing that entire government agencies
are devoted to deciphering them into semi understandable language
and enforcing them, the IRS for example. Your average US jeweler
doesn’t have a clue so is feeling pretty paranoid and panicked at
the current time.

Basically, we are in a position of going from artists and admireres
and craftsmen of fine jewelry to semi-law enforcement agents with
absolutely no training, no guidelines, and risk prison if we don’t
comply. Needless to say we are a bit paranoid at the moment.
Hopefully the Jewelers Vigilance Committee which has been working
with the FBI to develop guidelines for us will post them on
www.jvclegal.org soon, since they promised to have had them posted
by January.

To my fellow Americans, I ask to remind you that since by sheer
numbers the majority of us on Orchid speak and read English as our
first and primary language, to consider how much more difficult it
would be to be a “foreign” dealer. Do you have any ideas as to say
what other non English speaking (or English speaking) countries
laws are regarding jewelry? If it wasn’t for US trade magazines
like Lapidary Journal would you have the slightest clue how these
laws effected you?

These “foreign” companies have been doing business with US customers
and suppliers for decades and are stymied and offended by the sudden
suspicion and coldness they are being treated with. They have very
little if any knowledge of how are laws have changed so drastically
in the last two years. You are required now to be suspicious, but
please, do not let your frustration with the laws make you turn into
hateful bigots.

Sincerely,

Tina McDonald
@tlmcd