Ethically sourced gems
We have been trading coloured gems stones for more than thirty years now and in this time a lot has changed for the better.
Demand has risen significantly and, fotunately, so has the awareness for ethically produced gems.
In the 1980ies, when we asked our brokers in various Asian and African countries to accompany us on visits to the lapidary workshops of our suppliers, because we wanted to check on working conditions, we got funny looks and were basically met with incomprehension.
Today "best practice", "ethical sourcing" and "due diligence" are topics which are being discussed in every trade magazine and on every international conference. Organisations like ICA (International Colored Gemstone Association), in collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), work out guidelines to improve transparency, working conditions and sustainability in the gem industry.
More and more companies, from mining giants to cutters, traders and jewellers, join the movement and strive to achieve ethical correctness.
This is not an easy task, mind you! It is estimated that 75 to 80% of all coloured gems are produced by artisanal small scale mining. Thus it is rather difficult to improve transparency and fair trade practices. However, we do register significant progress. More and more companies, from mining giants to cutters, traders and jewellers, strive to achieve high ethical standards. Organisations like the above-mentioned ICA commit their members to a strict code of ethics and associations like the Responsible Jewellery Council register more than 1000 members worldwide.
Surprisingly for many, the few truly large companies in the mining industry are in the forefront and set an example when it comes to due diligence and best practice. Mining giants, like e.g. Gemfields and Fura, spend millions on schools and training facilities, hospitals and health centers and the improvement of local infrastructure. They invest in the improvement of eletricity supply and telecommunication, build roads and bridges, found and support farming and environmental projects, grant scholarships for university students and recruit up to 95% of their employees from the local populations.
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