WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that Gem Mfg. LLC, based in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $1.8 million for illegally trading in black coral, which was being used in jewelry and sculptures and shipped into the U.S.
Gem, based in St. Thomas, is a high-end manufacturer of jewelry, art and sculpture that contain black coral. According to federal authorities, the vast majority of Gem’s sales are through galleries. Gem operated through several subsidiaries that did business in Florida, Nevada, California, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alaska and the Cayman Islands.
Gem executives pleaded guilty in mid-July to seven counts of violations of both the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to “falsely label wildlife that is intended for international commerce.” Gem was sentenced to pay the criminal fine and an additional $500,000 in community service payments for projects to study and protect black coral. The company was also ordered to forfeit dozens of pieces of jewelry, 10 artistic sculptures and over 13,655 pounds of raw black coral, with a combined total value exceeding $2.17 million.
In addition to the criminal fine being the largest ever for the illegal trade of coral, it also marked the largest nonseafood wildlife trafficking penalty.
“We face a growing challenge to preserve the world’s coral, which serves as essential habitat for marine biodiversity,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment & Natural Resources Division at Justice. “We will continue to work with our federal partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who violate U.S. law by illegally trading in protected species.”
Gem was also sentenced to three-and-a-half years of probation and a 10-point compliance plan that includes an auditing, tracking and inventory control program. The company was banned from doing business with its former coral supplier, Peng Chia Enterprise Co., a Taiwanese company whose managers, Ivan and Gloria Chu, were indicted last year for the illegal trade of black coral sourced in China and sold to Gem facilities, according to court documents. They are currently serving time in prison.
A new Joan Rivers coffee table book, titled “Joan Rivers Confidential,” gives readers never-before-seen photos and letters of the late comedian throughout her life. “Because of her drive to always be fresh, she kept records of every appearance, every performance, all the jokes that were used on TV, all the clothes that were worn,” said Rivers’ daughter Melissa. Here, Rivers poses at the “Tonight Show” in Tracy Mills in 1985. Read more about the book and see more photos at WWD.com. #wwdeye
After a career at New York hot spots like Narcissa, Dovetail and Nix, @chefjfraser has expanded to the West Village with The Loyal, a modernized take on an American brasserie. “And as I’ve gone through my career I’ve felt some departure from that kind of simple, straightforward [cooking]. This is meant to take on the idea of ‘what if the American brasserie was invented today?’” #wwdeye (📷: @chinseephoto)
@bellahadid and @lilyaldridge at @bulgariofficial’s celebration on Friday night, toasting the brand's new Peter Marino-designed flagship on Fifth Avenue. The two-part event included a cocktail party at the store followed by a dinner at a mystery location — the Met Cloisters. #wwdeye
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews