The main reason I started a jewellery business is because I love it, in fact I adore it. I am mesmerised by it. I am in love with it. The variety of colours, shapes, not only of the metals but of the gems. I love it all, modern and antique. It actually confuses quite a bit my better half. How can I love it all? Pic one style... Vintage, or modern... This style, or that style, but pick one. But I can't.
I love it so much that I have started reading about it. Gems and lapidary... Gold and even mining... And as much as I wanted to be persuaded that these come from ethical mining, on digging deeper, the truth had shaken me to the core.
Whilst the mining for gems has somewhat improved, it still remains an ethical issue and an environmental issue. Whilst precious metals mining is down right dangerous and unethical by all accounts. But since we are kept busy about the improved bits of the gems mining, we are kept in the dark about the rest.
Well, I would like to shed some light on these issues. Not for any other reason, but we leave in a time where we advocate the "Black Lives Matter", and "Equality for Women", and "Water Aid", and "Initiative Against Malaria", but we don't really take the time to understand what we can do to prevent some the contributing factors to these issues.
First of all, did you know that black lives should matter anywhere in the world
??? Did you know that any life matter? Anyone who is considered "inferior" by big corporations digging for gold or gems in their "back yard", their life matter. But do we care when we buy gold and gems? Is our conscience really clear just because is not coined a "blood diamond"? Let's take a closer look.
A very compelling (amongst many) YouTube video by African Coalition for Corporate Accountability called "Beneath The Surface" shows us the horrors behind acquiring our precious gold and gems. Communities that should become richer, actually became poorer.
The real price: the human price and environmental price. People are displaced from fertile lands where they can feed their families to arid places where they find themselves unemployed and unable to feed their families, or worse, living on lands poisoned by the chemicals necessary to process gold or having their water diverted from their crops to process the gems (yes a huge amount of water is required in the lapidary process).
Not only that, but the excessive digging changes the once stable land into landslides and a more "holy" ground (watch Man of Steel movie and learn something from the very beginning of it-that was the end of the Crypton). The chemicals not only poisoned the water and the soil, but also killed entire species that maintained an entire ecosystem in balance.
With the arrival of corporations and excessive mining, the locals had to accept so the arrival of infantile cancer, miscarriages, malnutrition, deformations in new-borns, sex exploitation, unsolved murders of locals, corruption and malaria, yes, malaria, for which, us, the westerners feel so privileged to be charitable about.
The Guardian has written a small article regarding the unsolved murders of local wild reserve rangers in Peru dedicated to protect wild life because of so much corruption.
Not to mention the deforestation needed for mining, this in addition to one done in the name of beauty... Think Amazon forest. Yes, that forest, for our gold... And some of it is mined illegally, as this Mongabay.com article is uncovering.
So what is the moral of this story then? The moral of the story is to bring to your attention that we, as individuals have an impact. an impact on each other, and impact communities, and an impact on the wider environment. And that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
I want to give you THS POWER. A power that will enable you to make different choices. To know that you can make different choices.
We have been hammered into, and conditioned that we must buy gold and gems because they are so desirable and somehow they elevate our status. When in fact, behind it all, are big corporations, fighting for the money in your pocket at the cost of someone else.
Whilst the current climate looks that some brands have been signed up to clean their act according to this Smithsonian Magazine article and to source their precious metals and gems from ethical sources, this has still a very long way to go, and you don't really know if your "precious" are really ethical.
Picture this: if a gold source is still beneath a fertile village land, what are the chances that village will remain intact??? So, will the gold coming from that region be considered ethical??? Just some food for thought...
And now for a more realistic note, how many of us will really avoid precious metals??? Well, the question is not really of "never, ever buying it. It is a question of "how much" or "how often". The more you buy, the more demand you create. It is that simple.
But I did mention before, know YOU CAN make different choices. This is where you can make a difference.