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Thread: Should I / we be more diligent when sourcing stones and cabs?

  1. #1
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    Question Should I / we be more diligent when sourcing stones and cabs?

    I stumbled upon the following article the other week...

    Dark crystals: the brutal reality behind a booming wellness craze

    Although I had been vaguely aware, that there might be some issues with the way some minerals are mined (i.e. by small children earning less than a dollar a day), the scale of the problem hadn't really hit home until now.

    Not sure what to do, but think I may start by asking mineral sellers a more searching questions about the origins of their products, e.g. by enquiring not only which country, but which mine they came from and what steps have been taken to ensure that they are 'untainted' by exploitative working conditions.

    The dealer mentioned at the end of the article appears to lay the blame squarely on customers refusing to pay high enough prices, to allow Fair Trade and due diligence schemes to be applied by the Rock 'N' Gem business. Is that a fair assessment?

    All thoughts and opinions welcome, from either side of the debate...

  2. #2
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    Everything I purchase I now require to be ethically sourced, unfortunately unless you are there when comes out of the ground etc. you have to rely on your suppliers being honest.
    customers not willing to pay high prices is a cop out.
    I also have the advantage in that most of what I use is mined in Australia
    Last edited by china; 02-10-2019 at 03:43 PM.

  3. #3
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    I can't speak for every farm or supplier but the farms which grow the pearls I supply are all ethical and, moreover employ lots of women with good employment and world class transferable skills. Plus oysters and mussels don't thrive in polluted water.
    I can put anyone who wants to know onto a boulder opal mine where the mine owner and miner is female too
    www.Pearlescence.co.uk
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  4. #4
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    This is a subject that's been bothering me for a while. I don't have a huge collection of stones but have decided I have enough of a palette to play with for now and won't be buying more. Instead I'm going to play with fusing glass to make cabochons to use, although the trick there will be to create items that don't look aesthetically pleasing and not just like a gaudy lump of melted glass. If I can do that then I'll be happy.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies so far

    Quote Originally Posted by china View Post
    ...ethically sourced,...
    Ah yes - that was the phrase I was struggling for.
    Quote Originally Posted by china View Post
    unfortunately unless you are there when comes out of the ground etc. you have to rely on your suppliers being honest.
    Very true - at least at the moment. If there were some kind of independent certification system... Hmmm...
    Quote Originally Posted by china View Post
    customers not willing to pay high prices is a cop out.
    Agreed, but if the ball is going to be thrown in our direction by the industry, then shouldn't we be the ones to pick it up and run with it?
    Quote Originally Posted by china View Post
    I also have the advantage in that most of what I use is mined in Australia
    Which is a start, but raises further points. As a friend pointed out the other evening: simply boycotting rocks 'n' gems from countries with poor environmental and labour laws could mean that the kids wind up earning no money at all and end up working in other, equally dangerous industries and just because a crystal comes from a mine in the 'civilised' West doesn't automatically make it an ethical product.

    The Berkeley Pit in Montana is another infamous mine in the U.S. known for its horrific environmental track record. Once a highly profitable source of iron ore, it is now tapped of precious resources and filled with highly toxic water. The water is so poisonous that authorities regularly fire guns to scare away birds, after several hundred geese died in 1995 when they stopped to rest on the water...

    ...How can a crystal have healing power if someone’s life was put at risk or killed to get it into your hands? If anything, it could retain that negative energy, defeating the purpose of buying it in the first place. If a child, paid next to nothing and forced to work in a mine, excavated your crystal, how can it have the potential to heal? Wouldn’t that negative energy instead be passed on to you?
    Not that I subscribe to the crystal healing belief system, mind you - but it's a good point to raise with people selling crystals for supposed healing purposes.

    Some more food for thought: Do You Know Where Your Healing Crystals Come From?

    Quote Originally Posted by misspond View Post
    I don't have a huge collection of stones but have decided I have enough of a palette to play with for now and won't be buying more.
    I have amassed a fair collection of crystals, cabs and lapidary rough over the years and don't plan to stop altogether, but will (as I said) be more cautious in future. I'll be writing to the organisers of the mineral show I most frequently attend soon, asking them to raise the issue with their exhibitors, point out that these concerns are out there and are not going to go away.

    Meanwhile, I see that the London Jewellery School offers a one day course on making and sourcing ethical jewellery.

    PS - One person's gaudy lump of melted glass is someone else's object of desire

  6. #6
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    I don't actively boycott items from other counties, I am just fortunate that I am able to source most of what I use locally.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by china View Post
    I don't actively boycott items from other counties, I am just fortunate that I am able to source most of what I use locally.
    I don't believe it should be about boycotting anyone as such, it should be more about persuading suppliers that it's in their commercial interests to up their game.

    Maybe I'll start slabbing some of that Dulcote Agate and Blue John I've got lying around...

  8. #8
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    If you wish to part with some Blue john let me know

  9. #9
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    For me the issue is definitely one of aesthetics, I love the Schiller in labradorite and that's difficult to replicate in all of my experiments so far. And as for gaudy glass, well I take your point but if it doesn't appeal to me then I can't do anything with it.

    What I find really intriguing is that there's a huge range of very small uncalibrated cabochons available - I've been playing with small and delicate designs recently, a proper departure for me - and the more I look the more I see the same photos being used to illustrate them. One seller will use a photo and the round 3mm amethyst offered as part of a package of 10 comes in at 30p per item - I think the most expensive I've seen the same photo used to sell a smaller package comes in at 2 per item. I'm not able to mine my own stones, and if I were I doubt I'd be able to command the real price of mining and finishing the product to a finish that would make me happy to use it in a piece of finished jewellery.

    Which does make me hark back to the days when I would smash apart quartz pebbles from the garden when I was about 10 years old and marvel at the sparkles I would seem.

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