Will Gem Craft Become World Heritage?
As part of a conversation at the Intergem, master engraver Hans-Ulrich Pauly presented the idea of making the gemstone craft in the region around Idar-Oberstein an intangible UNESCO World Heritage Site. Applicant would be the Society of the Precious Stone Engravers, chaired by Pauly.
The model for the application is the Kannenbäckerland in the Westerwald, whose pottery tradition was declared an Intangible World Heritage Site in 2016. First, a corresponding application must be submitted to the country, where it is examined and, if necessary, forwarded to the German Unesco Commission, which can finally make the proposal to Unesco.
Pauly explained that with the Emigration wave 200 years ago from Hunsrückern to Brazil and the local gemstone finds a development was set in motion,which made the region the world's only gemstones processing, testing and exploration center. In addition to a large number of craft businesses, this also includes facilities such as jewelry and gems of the universityTrier, the College of Gemstone and Jewelery Design, the German Foundation for Gemstone Research, the Research Institute of Mineral and Metallic Materials, Precious Stones / Precious Metals (FEE), the German Gemmological Society and many others. "It is oneWorldwide unique historical culture, "emphasized Pauly. "Our trade has shrunk in numbers, but everything has been preserved," emphasized the Idar gemstone cutter René Arnoldi. "There are only about 500 people left today, but they can cover everything," underlined Dieter Hahn, owner of Germany's oldest diamond grinding mill and former president of the Diamond and Gemstone Exchange. In addition, Idar-Oberstein has "a better position on the world market today than ever before". The "industry", explained Pauly, still today includes 14 guild companies at the Chamber of Crafts and around 100 companies that run under the umbrella of the IHK.
Jewelry designer Maren Giloy referred to the title "World Crafts City," awarded by the World Crafts Council to cities for which a specific craft has a defining character. However, Pauly said, there is a need to work more closely together to maintain and develop strengths and capabilities. The lack of native offspring must be compensated by people from outside. Pauly reported on his good experiences with students of the gemstone and jewelery design department in Idar-Oberstein. He is now internationally oriented, graduates who actually developed a keen interest in working with gemstones would often like to stay here because there is nowhere in the world comparable working conditions.
René Arnoldi pointed out that the local stonegrinder tradition was also reduced because the gem industry previously had no attractive working conditions. The work was heavy, unhealthy and poorly paid. Therefore, local offspring had failed. It has to be made clear that this has changed and that today also in the gemstone industry we work with the most modern equipment and methods.