Many companies will describe their gemstone jewellery as “ethical”, but have you ever stopped to consider what this really means?
The more I find out about gems and gem mining, the more I realise that this is an incredibly complex area. There is an idealistic and perhaps slightly naive view that we should be sourcing our gems in person, by travelling to the mine where they originate, and by dealing directly with the miner in question. There are some amazingly dedicated people who are doing just that, and are able to support the individual miners and their families directly which is fantastic. Sadly for the vast majority of us this is not only impractical, but glosses over the complex business relationships that have developed in many mining areas.
Most of us will buy our gems from dealers of some description. I aspire to understand the path of the gems that I buy, and as such have elected only to buy from individuals and companies that can demonstrate where their gems come from, and how they support the artisan miners and communities in the areas that they buy from. This may be on a community level, such as investment into schools, or on an individual level such as supporting a miner unable to work due to illness.
I count myself as very lucky to have met many people who are dedicated to improving the lot of those in the mining industry, and as I get to know them better I look forward to understanding, and in my own little way supporting, the people and communities without whom my jewellery would not be possible.