Where Do Ethically Sourced Gemstones Come From?
If you create your own jewelry, then you likely work with gems on a regular basis. Many people search out ethically sourced stones when shopping for materials since miners obtain them through moral practices. But you may still wonder where ethically sourced gemstones come from. What makes these gems stand out? Check out the interesting truth regarding this must-have material for jewelry crafters while you create dazzling pieces.
Common Origins of Ethically Sourced Gems
Ethical gemstones usually come from smaller mines instead of those owned by large-scale companies. Since these are smaller and utilize fewer workers, it's easier to focus on safe working conditions.
So, where do ethically sourced gemstones come from? In most cases, ethically sourced gems come from small-scale mines and artisanal miners. These differ from those large-scale mines owned by major companies because they're more likely to prioritize employee wellbeing.
Luckily, you can buy ethically sourced stones, and these often come from small or even family-owned mines; but your options don't end there. Some prefer working with manmade stones, like lab-made diamonds, since they're cheaper and equivalent in quality. A stone manufactured in a lab is not the same as cubic zirconia and works as well as a natural one for jewelry.
Small-scale mines are another ethical source commonly used, and most are mid-sized. Think of these like the mom-and-pop shops of diamond mining; usually, local small companies or families own them. Additionally, workers may obtain material both above and below the ground.
This type of mine stands out because owners take safety into account and workers receive a fair wage. Small-scale mines are also great because they don't heavily impact our environment since their size makes them easy to run.
Artisanal mines are one of the smallest used mining operations and typically only require a handful of workers. Since they're so small, there's usually little impact on the planet. However, some individuals illegally mine for material in artisanal mines, so they may not have the protective gear needed.
Why Ethical Sourcing Matters
Ethically sourced gems stand out because sellers obtain them through safe and ethical practices. Some widescale sellers obtained them through war and bloodshed—a particularly true history for diamonds. Fighting surrounds mines for precious stones because individuals want control over it since power over these mines means making more money.
It Benefits Communities
When you buy ethically sourced stones, you can usually trace the origins of the gem all the way back to the community or mine it came from. Since this is a smaller scale, it benefits the area the stone came from since the money you spend doesn't land in a large company's pocketbook.
Improved Working Conditions
All gemstone companies do not prioritize ethical mining practices, but working conditions are more of a priority when mining practices remain ethical. So, workers receive fair treatment and aren't subjected to dangerous labor conditions while obtaining these precious gems.
An Example: The Diamond Conflict
In recent years, the immoral practices used in the diamond industry have become more well known to the public. Diamonds are precious, so a fair deal of bloodshed and conflict has surrounded communities as people fight to control these mines, but that isn't the only unethical practice. For example, some companies rely on forced child labor and subject workers to abusive conditions.
Sadly, these conflicts don't solely revolve around diamonds though it is one of the most well-known. These dangerous practices also surround other precious gems, rubies, sapphires, etc. Luckily, methods have improved as the public becomes more informed of what goes on within this market.
Of course, conflict and dangerous mining procedures still exist worldwide; some stones seen in shops originate from these practices. By shopping for properly sourced diamonds, you avoid giving money to those leading these awful practices that have led to wars and held detrimental impacts on the environment.
Workers Receive Better Wages
Big mining companies usually do not fairly compensate their workers. While all smaller mines are different, and employee wage could depend on various factors, it's typically better than it would be for a large-scale mine.
It's Better for the Environment
Many unethical sourcing practices have led to the destruction of natural habitats, which can negatively impact an ecosystem. Companies utilizing immoral practices could pollute rivers and other waterways while digging pits or other tunnels needed for mining. Additionally, many blast areas with dynamite to create pits, but they could destroy forests or animals' homes in their efforts.
Safe mining practices have less impact on our planet because owners can more closely analyze where the mine is and its size. They'll decide on the best ways to obtain gems without causing too much destruction. Plus, since families or a community often owns small-scale mines, there's more drive to preserve the area.
Often, stones sourced from ethical mines are of a higher quality than those mined in mass quantities. This is because workers don't have to rush the process, so there's little need to worry about gems getting damaged.
How To Buy Ethically Sourced Gems
When you purchase gems, you should research the company you plan to buy from and ask these essential questions:
- Where do the gems come from?
- Are mining conditions safe and regulated?
- Do workers receive fair compensation?
In almost all cases, gems coming from small mines will have the answers you desire since owners tend to better value employee well-being.
It's also important to know which gems often relate to conflict areas so you can double-check that what you purchase is ethically sourced. You should pay extra attention to:
Remember that these are just some of the stones often surrounding conflict, but this list is not all-encompassing. When shopping for gems, it's best to buy from a company that only sells ethically sourced material.
Cutting Edge Supply
At Cutting Edge Supply, we sell gemstone beads and essential lapidary supplies. You can find beautiful garnet, pink tourmaline, and other beautiful stones in our shop, all from safe sources. Buy the best stones to craft a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.