SC First Virtual Meeting (30 September 2020)

The 86th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place on 30 September 2020 by videoconference.  It was the SC’s first ever meeting to be held virtually.  It was also the first meeting under the chairmanship of Mr Scott Walter (Edinburgh Assay Office), assisted by First Deputy Chairperson, Ms. Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Polish Regional Assay Offices), and Second Deputy Chairman, Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office).  

The videoconference was organised in replacement of a face-to-face meeting in Geneva, which could not be held due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.  The previously scheduled SC meeting, which was supposed to take place in Gdansk (Poland) on 18 March 2020, was cancelled for the same reasons.

The virtual meeting was attended by 57 officials representing all 21 Contracting States and 2 Applicant States (Italy and Ukraine).  Due to the particular circumstances, no guests were invited to this meeting.

Serbia joins the Convention

The Chairman welcomed Serbia, which became on 24 June 2020 the 21st Contracting State to the Convention.  On behalf of the Serbian Delegation, Mr. Čedomir Belić, Acting Director, Directorate of Measures and Precious Metals, expressed the willingness of Serbia to comply with the Convention’s requirements and to be actively involved in the SC.

Review of membership applications of Italy and Ukraine

The SC reviewed the accession process of Italy and that of Ukraine (Sri Lanka was not represented). 

Italy reported additional delays in the ratification of the Convention due to COVID-19 and the fact that the Italian Government focused on emergency measures during the pandemic.  However, if the sanitary situation remained under control, the accession of Italy to the Convention would be tabled to the Government.  Italy also announced that the “Laboratorio SAGOR” in Arezzo had successfully been accredited to ISO 17025 and would become, together with “Laboratorio di Saggio dei Metalli Preziosi” in Vicenza, an authorised Assay Office under the Convention, once Italy had completed the ratification process.

The SC endorsed a report on Ukraine prepared by Mr Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia) and Ms Katarzyna Nadara (Polish Regional AO of Warsaw), who visited Ukraine on 27-30 January 2020 on behalf of the SC.  The Ukrainian Delegation provided an update on the ratification process as well as steps undertaken to comply with Ukraine legislation.  Subject to Ukraine confirming its ability to pay the annual fee and its intention to participate in future SC meetings, the SC decided to unfreeze the membership application of Ukraine.

Impact of COVID-19 on the CCM

After a 15.1% increase in 2018, the number of articles marked with the CCM remained stable in 2019 (+0.1%).  However, they sharply declined by 38.6% in the first half of 2020.  The number of CCM articles, marked in offsite facilities, decreased by 9% in 2019.  However, the number of CCM articles offsite-marked still represent almost one-third of all CCM articles (31.9% in 2019).  As a result, and following a review by the British Hallmarking Council, the discussions on the Convention’s draft guidelines on CCM offsite marking will be resumed shortly.

The Standing Technical Group focuses on Round Robins

The newly-elected Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Peters Brangulis (Assay Office of Latvia), reported on the 26th and 27th meetings of the STG: the first was held by teleconference and the second by videoconference.  The main focus of the STG during these conferences was the revision of the Round Robin (RR) Guidelines and the organisation of the 2020 RR, which was postponed to the second half of 2020 in order to have sufficient time to test the new RR portal and to complete the revision of the RR Guidelines.

The STG elected two new Deputies: Ms Katarzyna Nadara (Polish Regional Assay Office of Warsaw) and Mr. Sipke van der Meulen (Netherlands / EWN).

The STG as well as the SC reviewed the reorganisation of the laboratory at the Assay Office London.  In relation with this, the UK announced that it would present a proposal by the British Hallmarking Council to review the current rules on the subcontracting of testing. 

The SC endorsed a 4-year (2020-23) budget plan for the Convention’s Technical Programme for a total of CHF 188,750.00.  The Technical Programme covers the RR as well as educational sessions for SC participants.  As recommended by the STG, the SC also agreed on the composition of the 2021 RR alloys and adopted two Assaying and Marking Practices (AMP) cases, submitted by the Swiss Assay Office: the first on the use of base metal rivets for folding buckles and the second on the use of base metal screws for watch cases.

Integration of the IAAO

The SC noted that most former Members of the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO), which was terminated on 31 December 2019, had been successfully integrated into the Convention, where they were given the status of “Non-Member”: either as “Technical Programme Participant” (TPP), with privileged conditions for RR participation, or as “Observer” (see list below).  While Non-Members can attend SC meetings, they have no voting rights and cannot apply the CCM.

The TPPs and Observers are:

  • Institute of Metrology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • National Jewellery Quality Supervision and Inspection Center of China (with branch in Shenzhen)
  • Laboratorio SAGOR, Arezzo, Italy
  • Assay Office of North Macedonia
  • Assay Office of Mauritius
  • Assay Office of Moldova
  • Assay Office of Mongolia (based in Ulaanbaatar with branches in Bayankhongor and Darkhan-uul)
  • Bureau of Metrology, Montenegro
  • Singapore Test Services Pte Ltd, Assay Office of Singapore
  • ECOMEP Laboratorio de Contraste de Córdoba of Spain
  • KRISOS (Asociación Española de Laboratorios Acreditados en el Área de Metales Preciosos), which comprises six laboratories in Spain in the field of precious metal control: Instituto Tecnológico Metalmecánico, Mueble, Madera, Embalaje y Afines (AIDIMME), Centro de Laboratorios de Madrid (CLYSIM), Dpto. Verificación y Análisis (SAVECO), LGAI Technological Center S.A. (APPLUS), Instituto Tecnológico de la Bisutería (ITEB), Collegi Oficial de Joiers, d’Orfebres, de Rellotgers i de Gemmòlegs de Catalunya (JORGC).
  • The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT)


In brief…

  • The SC noted that the implementation process of the revised Annexes had been successfully completed by Cyprus and Poland. The last two Contracting States, which are still in the process of implementing the revised Annexes, are Austria and Portugal. For background information, see news on SC in Tel Aviv [link].
  • The SC noted that the European Commission (EC) had issued a proposal concerning the Mutual recognition Alliances Project, which could potentially cover precious metal control. Contracting States are monitoring the developments of this proposal.
  • The two Working Groups, operating under the SC, i.e. the Working Group on Model Law and the Working Group on Vision & Strategy, reported that work was in progress and videoconferences would be organised in the coming months.
  • The Secretariat provided a financial report on income and expenditures in 2019.

Next meeting

The SC endorsed the Chairman’s recommendation to reconvene virtually as long as there is no certainty that face-to-face meetings can be held and that travelling is safe.  As a result, the next SC meeting, which was supposed to take place in Cyprus in spring 2021, will be held by videoconference in Q2 2021.