Interview

In Conversation With…Dave Meleski

Dave Meleski is President and CEO of Richline Group, and was elected as the new Chair of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), effective 4th March 2024. 

What inspired you to apply for the role of RJC Chair?

Several factors played into my decision to nominate for the Chair position. First, with David Bouffard’s term as Chair ending, I was part of several conversations with members of my senior team at Richline, as well as members of industry organisations as to the need for strong leadership at the RJC, to continue both the growth of the organisation as well as help set a path forward as it begins its third decade of existence.

As I examined the opportunity, I realised that I was in a good place with my own experienced management team at Richline. As I enter into the final chapter of my own working experience in our industry, I felt it the right time to offer my leadership to this important organisation. Secondly, I felt strongly that the RJC should have a global view, not necessarily a US, Europe, Asia or other weighted view to try to set a future for all constituents. As a leader of a global company (Richline operates more than 10 businesses around the world) I could help bring all views to the table, uniting our diverse board. 

What is your vision for the RJC?

The RJC has experienced a lot of growth, and with that some growing pains. I plan on making sure that the current demands on the organisation are clear, properly resourced and that they have the support to meet the needs of this growing membership. From there, we need to establish a longer range view of how the RJC can provide proper standards and support of these standards in an ever changing marketplace. This needs to happen while having the organisation stay true to its DNA of reaching all levels of the global supply chain. As the organisation continues to grow, we need to make sure we can support all levels of the supply chain, from beginning to end, in an efficient manner.  

In many ways the jewellery industry is going through a transformation. What are some of the positive and more challenging changes you have seen in recent times?

This question is a little tougher to answer, because I think businesses (jewellery or other) are always going through transformation (or they die!). Our industry, from a positive perspective, has certainly become much more global in nature over the last few decades, and at the same time it has evolved its focus around sustainable practices. We certainly have much more progress to make, but from where we were when I was a young person in this industry things are so much better. The challenges will always be people, and the attitude that it is someone else’s problem or not their responsibility, regardless of the impact. Today, we are much better off on responsible sourcing of metal, we are moving towards a better place on diamonds, and have work to do in gemstones. I am certain we will make progress on all, in the coming years.

What changes would you like to see in the industry?

Describing what changes to the industry I would like to see is also a difficult question, as most of my views on this are geographically formed. Every part of the world has different issues, needs and solutions for them specific to their cultures and location. From my view as RJC chair, I would like to keep growing the RJC and its role in identifying and documenting those issues that are global in nature.

What are your top 3 priorities as new Chair of the RJC?

As I start as Chair, my first priority is understanding exactly where the RJC is today as an operating organisation. This includes a view of its short term requirements in the next year, including all expectations of deliverables that are required by our governing articles and members.  

I want to make sure there are proper resources to accomplish this and provide support for our staff to meet our goals.  Secondly, I want to develop a strong working relationship with the Board to insure proper oversight and development of strategy for the coming years. There is much opportunity to continue growth in the organisation, but also a need to strategise the priorities of the changing world in keeping up to date in our standards, compliance and certification processes.  

Third, while staying true to our core objectives, I want to see our organisation continue to work with the supply chain as it has done, but reach even more retailers and ultimately consumers spreading the RJC message. For the RJC to be an even stronger organisation, it needs to have more consumer recognition, and the way to accomplish this is through retailer promotion and commitment to the RJC brand.

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