Kourosh Goharbin is one of the most established pillars of the jewelry industry in Iran. Today, almost everyone involved in the jewelry industry, be it a buyer, seller or manufacturer recognizes the credibility and reputation of Kourosh Goharbin. In addition to being one of the most experienced and reputable jewelry makers and sellers, he is also the head of the Gold and Jewelry Union of Tehran.
We had heard a great deal about his qualities from his associates and fellow-workers, about his exemplary efforts in advancing union affairs, his vigorous attempts to solve the problems of his associates, his ingenious business acumen and his valuable experience in jewelry.
Many had spoken about his respect and admire, prestige and high status among the members of the union, his expertise and his exceptional management skills. Thus, we came to see him through these interpretations. During our conversations we many things came up such as union development, the reasons for the importance of this profession, the role of the government, exports, interaction with other members, etc. Many have spoken about his respect and admire, prestige and high status among the members of the union, his expertise and his exceptional management skills. Thus, we came to see him through these interpretations. During our conversations we many things came up such as union development, the reasons for the importance of this trade, the role of the government, exports, interaction with other members, etc. In fact, this meeting served as an outlet to our frequent visits to Mr. Goharbin to whom we are very grateful for his constant supports for us in all stages of the formation of this publication, from providing documents to transferring his knowledge and know-how to us. Mr. Goharbin alongside Haj Agha Seyyed Qavamuddin Amin and other respected members of the board of directors have played the most crucial role in the formation of this publication.
We would have no doubt that without Mr. Goharbin’s unsparing guidance and support, today this publication would not have existed.
- Goharbin, as you know better than anyone else, the jewelry industry is one of the most important and key professions in the country, and its developments have a profound impact on the overall structure of the country’s economy. To begin the discussion, can you explain the reasons for this extraordinary importance of the jewelry industry in the economy?
- You touched upon a very important point. In order to understand the importance and reasons behind it, we need to take a brief look at the history of the jewelry industry. Jewelry industry has a history of seven thousand years and may be as old as as the earliest human civilizations. It is said that the industry originated from Iran and Egypt where the first instances of the export of jewelry occured. The history of this industry has seen very ups and down over the years and has always been closely linked to the political and economic conditions of the time and its prosperity has diminished in some periods, but it has been obvious that every time officials were supportive of this industry, it experienced growth and prosperity. Throughout the ages, political rulers owed a large part of their fortunes to their coins, gold coins and jewelry. On the other hand, in recent years the gold and jewelry industry has become a “resource for people savings”, that is to say, in addition to benefiting from its beauty and splendor, people rely on its economic and financial values. Similarly, in today’s global context, every country benefits from gold reserves which guarantee part of its financial sources. In another word, more gold reserves bring more stability for a given government. Therefore, we realize that the importance of this commodity in the economic cycle of the country and even families is very high, and serves as the official currency of the country. In a sense, it is believed the economic stability of any country can be measured by the number of banks, goldsmiths, currency exchanges and the like. At first glance, it may not make sense. However, if we look closer, we realize that the number of these financial enterprises and the degree of their prosperity can influence different areas because it demonstrates the security of that area and its potential for return on capital and increases liquidity. Moreover, there are other reasons. Given the importance of gold in global stock exchange markets such as the UK and New York Stock Exchange, gold daily price in every major currency of the richest and most powerful countries in the world is calculated and is one of the influential factors in global economic cycle and transactions, so in that sense, we can rely on this industry as the foreign currency in the country, and in fact it should be regarded and valued as dollars and euros, I mean, a widely used currency. We can say one kilogram of gold that is worth plenty of dollars and euros and is resilient and portable. These features, along with many other things, make the jewelry industry important.
- Could you please explain the purpose of this publication to our audience?
- The purpose of this publication is to establish closer contact among union officials and their respected members, to report on new rules and development, as well as to report on union performance and to receive feedback from respected colleagues and pioneers.
- What have been the outlines of the union’s performance during your tenure and responsibility?
During my presidency together with Mr. Morteza Shishebaran and Mr. Marefat Pourbaba – to whom I am deeply grateful – I and the Board of Directors had meetings with relevant authorities with the view to regulating trade unions in order to facilitate performance and success of the Union. The outcome was remarkable and led to very satisfying results for the whole Union including:
- 1 Holding the first convention of jewelry unions across the country and reflecting on common problems to relevant authorities
- 2 Launching the Union website
- 3 Creating new categories namely :
- Gold and Jewelry wholesale
- Assaying Precious and Semi-Precious Stones
- Cutting Gold Carving
- Selling Gold and Jewelry Making Machinery and Tools
- Precious and Semi-Precious Stones Sale
- 4 Purchasing of a new site for the building of the Union with an area of 1000 square meters in 5 floors
- 5 Selecting and licensing approximately 70 gold coins shops in Tehran that only deal with coin seal and sale
- 6 Having multiple successful meetings with respected officials of the Ministry of Commerce to eliminate 6% of the commercial tax for importing raw materials
- 7 Filing a request to remove 4% of the aggregated duties on gold, jewelry and raw materials of the industry in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and the Standard Institute to the Economic Commission of the Parliament which is still under consideration.
- 8 Providing self-defense spray to the members of the jewelry unions throughout the country
- 9 Issuance of ID card to employees of trade unions and industry activists who cannot obtain a business license.
- 10 Drafting a contract with Iran Insurance Company to provide theft, fire, health insurance which did not formerly exist in Iran
- 11 Issuance of business cards valid for two years for those who had more than ten years of experience in the business
- 12 Monitoring assaying workshops and issuing licenses for them
- 13 Collaborating with veteran and experienced tax and legal advisers in the union to guide respected members for free
- 14 Receiving standard ID code for gold and jewelry manufacturers and whole-sellers from Standard Institute of Iran
- 15 Convening a committee comprised of five component namely inspection, complaint handling, dispute resolution, technical and training composed of veteran jewelers
- 16 Establishing a Dispute Resolution Council (subordinate to the Judiciary) at the Union
- 17 Holding various meetings with the respected bank officials in order to maintain the category of exchange offices and ultimately the issuance of the exchange office licenses.
- 18 Holding meetings with esteemed officials of law enforcement and police stations to establish more security for jewelry shops and installing surveillance cameras in shops and taking other security measures
- 19 Minimizing gold grade offenses by continuously sending union inspectors to the relevant sites
- 20 Holding numerous meetings with relevant authorities and organizations on the creation of special facilities for imports and exports.
- 21 Holding the second international jewelry exhibition with the participation of international and domestic participants
- 22 Issuance and extension of 666 business licenses
- 23 Digitizing all documents and folders of the Union
- 24 Employing new staff with bachelor’s degrees to run the Union affairs
- 25 Forming a 5-person pricing committee composed of veteran jewelers
During all this time, I was doing my best to show to the relevant authorities the great potential of this profession in assisting the government in the field of macroeconomics, in creating employment and stability.
For example, regarding stability and security, I believe that holding the international jewelry exhibitions was a true testament to prove our contribution to the country’s economic security. This is something that has been confirmed by many colleagues and stakeholders, and I will talk about it in detail when appropriate.
These issues have all led to the adoption of new approaches by the government in recent years, thus, many favorable decisions have been made accordingly. The government has proven to be as supportive of our craftsmen as possible, and if we make proposals and plans and follow them up, the government support will increase.
- Considering your experience gained during your five years of presidency in the Union and your decades of presence in the industry, what are your suggested solutions to tackle problems and improve conditions of the Union members?
- The jewelry industry and its products, such as gold, jewelry, silver, coins, etc. are nowadays an indispensable necessity in the community, which are saved by people in the community, I believe the most effective way for this industry and Union to succeed is by quality production, proper presentation, good conduct and consolidation among the Union’s members.
- Having said that, what is the most important request you have from the relevant authorities and managers?
- You know, this industry has seven thousand years of background in Iran, and approximately 280,000 enterprises are active in this field around the country, and the good news is that most of them are have specialized, and equipped with an active and talented staff in designing and manufacturing products. If relevant officials continue to assist us in other areas just like the way they helped us in the past in the elimination of legal barriers and facilitated our business, we can achieve good prospects…
- Can you specify the areas which officials can assist you in?
- Of course, as regards imports, the government can remove import barriers by eliminating 4% aggregated duties, in export, government can support us by facilitating export procedures just like European countries, in the production area, they can grant low-interest and long-term loans to manufacturers, regarding insurance, they can lower the insurance premium charge to 10% for the stakeholders of this profession, and finally, in the area of upgrading technology, the government can assist the Union in importing modern machinery for goldsmithery. If these assistances are extended, Iran can become a great hub for import and export in the region, and our business will become the top non-oil exporter of Iran.
- As the president of the Gold and Jewelry Union, how do you evaluate the relationships between the Union and the Government entities? What measures have you taken in this regard and what expectations do you have?
- At the beginning of my term of office at the union, I felt a lack of understanding among the authorities about this industry and the profession and realized that the abilities, breadth, and power of this trade were not adequately introduced to respected officials and managers, so in various ways I tried to establish relations and expand cooperation at various levels with respected executives and decision-makers in different bodies such as the Ministry of Commerce, Mining and Industries. Because I think our relations with the government are one of the most unique economic relations with the government.
- What goal do you want to achieve during the remainder of your tenure?
- If I can manage it, I would like to finish the programs and achieve the goals we set out from the beginning, as much as possible, to create a favorable environment for our dear members and colleagues and finally to gain the satisfaction of God the Almighty, which is at the forefront of our goals.
- What are your goals for the next round of chairmanship of the Union’s Board of Directors and what is your opinion on this?
- In the coming period, all the efforts of our esteemed colleagues should be made first and foremost in participating in the election and electing the most qualified person, those who are knowledgeable and capable should be chosen, people who, like this board, should sincerely devote their full time and energy to rendering services to the members free of charge. Providing peace and unity to the class, and the honor of serving the people are blessings from God to us, if we deserve them.
- There is no doubt that the jewelry industry has created a lot of employment in the country and today many people who are involved in this industry have been able to start a family thanks to the existence and development of this category of economic activity, can you provide accurate statistics?
- I can’t give you accurate statistics but on average there are ten thousand manufacturing, sales, or related units in the city of Tehran, and their number ranges from seventy to one hundred thousand manufacturing or commercial units nationwide. Assuming that three thousand people in each unit are employed, a simple calculation shows that nearly 300,000 families have benefited from the benefits of this business, and assuming that each household has three to four members we can say that eight hundred thousand to one million persons live on this business.
During this five-and-a-half-year that I had the honor to be the president of the union, thousands of meetings were held at different levels of management with different officials, who I mentioned earlier, and in the course of these contacts and meetings, we managed to accomplish some goals to the interests of the Union members, such as attraction of facilities, organizing things like taxation and other issues, expanding and improving the status of the business in all aspects. We also had an export vision which was to get a better position in the non-oil export sector, so that we could have the 2nd place in export after oil. We also worked a lot on regulating members’ licenses, the planning, and operation of specialized committees, the examination of the safety of business units, and so on.
- Mr. Goharbin, how is the Union budget funded?
- The union budget is funded solely by the membership fee of respectable members, 20% of which is deposited into the account of the Trade Union Committee and the remainder is spent on union personnel salaries, conferences, inspections, supplies and expenses of the Union, and I should say that the members of the BOD perform their responsibilities free of charge. Of course, our dear colleagues may ask what about the money we received as assistance. The money we raised as assistance grant has been collected with the permission and supervision of the Assembly and has been entirely spent on the purchase of a new site for the Union building on five administrative floors with an area of 1000 square meters. I have to underline that the Union bore no cost for the construction of the new building. The union’s BOD plans to transform the union’s current location into luxurious halls to be used by members of the Union for celebrations, weddings, and funerals.
- What is your opinion about the jewelry made in Iran and abroad?
- We have skillful and competent craftsmen and now we can daresay that artifacts made are second to none. Like the craftsmen working in top jewelry manufacturing countries, if our craftsmen receive the necessary facilities, Iran could be the first to third-largest exporter and producer in the world. Under these circumstances, foreign artifacts will have no place in the Iranian market. Currently, we see that the first-class Iranian works are sold under foreign or Turkish brands. During the exhibition, we had some meetings with the respected officials on issues such as import of raw materials and modern machinery, and supporting manufacturers, and we hope that in near future we can see this industry further flourish.
- How do you assess the status of this business category in all respects?
- In terms of design, I must emphasize that we have designers who are unique in the whole world. The masters of this art have always trained excellent students over the years, and we must link this trend with current knowledge and academic education and develop academic courses for this art. I think that we are lagging behind the world in terms of design, and we should be able to work hard to promote it and get closer to global trends. We have made great strides in production, we have producers whose quality and performance are competitive with their foreign counterparts, and fortunately, they have gradually become more export-oriented and we have a good vision ahead. In terms of machinery and technology, companies active in this field have also become much more dynamic, and we have seen over the years that traditional workshop equipment and tools have been replaced with modern machinery. The exhibition also saw a strong presence of technology and device importing companies.
- How do you evaluate the exhibition and what achievements do you think it will have?
- First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the honorable Board of Directors and all the officials who played an important role in holding this exhibition. I found the exhibition excellent and positive, and I had already anticipated its success. Fortunately, after this international event, many friends, including exhibitors, visitors and colleagues, directors and officials of the exhibition also found the event very positive and called for it to be held annually. I have mentioned before and I reiterate that this exhibition was a demonstration of the stability and economic development of the country, which was reflected at the regional and global levels.The quality of the exhibition was in line with similar exhibitions abroad, the strong presence of producers and members of the trade union, the unique quality of the products presented, the stylistic appearance of the booths, the security, and order of the event, and many other good aspects of the exhibition, were all satisfactory. What I am telling you is based on facts and is accurate. Our qualitative and statistical surveys and polls at the exhibition confirmed this, along with interviews with respected government officials and executives who welcomed the event very well. In order to improve the quality of the exhibition and to comply with international standards, the Union had to incur huge costs that led to the loss of the Union.
In the survey conducted at the exhibition, we realized that our distinguished colleagues had some complaints, which I need to point out here:
1) Due to the special circumstances and related problems of holding the jewelry exhibition in comparison to other exhibitions, all of its aspects had to be examined and after various considerations and approval by the relevant authorities, the time of the event should have been scheduled so it didn’t coincide with any other exhibition. These arrangements took several months. The exact date of the exhibition was announced a month and a half ago, by the organizing committee, and all relevant Unions in Iran, manufacturers in Tehran, foreign partners active in the manufacturing of machinery. Two announcements were broadcast on TV and several times on the radio. Invitations were also sent to producers, and only a few days to the exhibition, mass media welcomed the interested persons and public to visit the exhibition.
2) The exhibition was solely supposed to showcase the abilities of our dear artists in the jewelry industry, and thanks to the Union promotion and support, 70% of the exhibitors were producers and the rest of the booths were occupied by domestic and foreign machinery producers.
3) The exhibition is held in 4 days and this duration can not be changed. According to the law of the exhibitions, four days before the opening date, the halls and spaces are delivered to the participants for booth arrangement.
4) The exhibition was held with an economic perspective and most importantly with the view of introducing Iranian manufactured artifacts for export and domestic consumption. The event was a success and visited by about 20 thousand visitors. During the 4 days, occasionally they had to close the doors of the halls to control the crowd. Although we lacked sufficient experience and facilities, with the help of the board of directors and other officials of the exhibition, we managed to hold the event at international levels, as acknowledged by the visitors.
- What do you think of the newly established associations, their scope of activity and their relationship with the union?
- Over the last few years, about 4 or 5 trade unions have been operating, all of which are comprised of respected associates of this trade union and the Ministry of Labor, moving towards resolving trade problems, and have had very good meetings and results so far. I avail myself of this opportunity to thank them all.
However, it should be noted that the Union is a subsidiary of the Trade Union Committee and the Ministry of Commerce and operates in line with the corporate identity, business licenses, corporate offenses and regulation, according to the the regulations of the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Labor, all business entities must have a valid business license and then become a member of the association.
- What do you think of similar publications in jewelry?
- Some of these publications promote their opinions without proper knowledge and only based on personal views and irrespective of the interests of the trade and the opinions of the veterans of the industry who founded it.
- What do you know about the essential attributes of the members of the jewelry Union?
- The first is trustworthiness, the second is love and honesty, and the third is art. Trustworthiness is important because people give us their financial and economic backing and choose us as their advisor for their economic affairs; honesty and love motivate members to work effectively, and last but not least, art is the essence of our business.
- Mr. Goharbin, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule and engagements to talk to us. As the last word, do you want to say anything that you feel might have been left unsaid?
- I need to acknowledge the hard work and support of our veterans and all members of the Union because if the Union has been successful in any way and taken a positive step, it owes it to the efforts and support of all its members.I would also like to express my special thanks and appreciation to the distinguished members of the Board of Directors of the Union for their tireless efforts to resolve the Union’s problems without having any financial expectations.I must point out that we have a great and powerful trade union among all the unions of the country and will become stronger and more prosperous if the government is more supportive. I hereby declare that the Board of Directors of the Union is at the disposals of all distinguished colleagues and will not spare any endeavor to support its members and resolve their problems. We hope that the close cooperation between the Union and our dear colleagues will be expanded and deepened, and I urge all my fellow friends to share their suggestions and problems with the Union officials so that we can help them. My last point is about this publication which I hope it can act as a true reflection of the status of our business community in various ways and as an effective instrument for establishing dialogue among the stakeholders of jewelry industry, sharing information about the latest achievements in jewelry designing, production, and technology at a world-class level. We also try to promote the products and capabilities of our members to enhance the scope of their business activities.
- How do you foresee the future of this industry and business?
- Over the past few years, the country’s authorities have changed their view of the industry and our members have changed from ornament sellers to craftsmen. That is why today we see beautiful artifacts coming to the market. If our craftsmen are supported and encouraged by the relevant authorities, they can bring the industry to its true position. As the last message, I would like to ask all my dear friends and colleagues to be proud of being in this business and being a member of the Union.
Source: Gold Jewelry Mag