What Are Ethical Gemstones?
Today, an increasing number of people are socially and environmentally conscious. As a result, interest in ethical gemstones is on the rise. But many still wonder, what exactly are ethical gemstones?
Most people understand that it takes work to access gemstones. Jewelry-quality samples aren’t typically found in larger quantities, just lying on the ground. Instead, most commonly, people have to mine for them, a process that can be incredibly laborious and isn’t always great for the environment.
Ethical gemstone producers aim to limit their impact on the environment and ensure the workers gathering the gems are treated fairly. If you want to learn more about the world of ethical jewelry, here’s what you need to know.
What Are Ethical Gemstones?
In the absolute simplest sense, ethical gemstones are specimens that are removed from the ground and otherwise processed using eco-friendly techniques. Usually, the goal is to create the smallest possible impact on the environment. Ethically-mined crystals aren’t going to come from a strip mine or similar operation. Instead, the producer will use more environmentally conscious methods.
Additionally, ethical gemstones are gathered and prepared in a way that ensures those who are doing the work aren’t being exploited. For example, the producers provide fair wages and safe working conditions and don’t use forced or child labor.
Further, the approach aims to make sure that money generated from the operation isn’t used to support or facilitate various kinds of conflicts. The most widely recognized examples are terrorist activities or genocide, though certain other types of situations may also fall in that category.
Precisely what techniques or approaches are involved do vary. Different stones are created by varying conditions, causing them to have unique placements within the environment. Additionally, how they need to be handled can also vary, as some stones are more delicate than others. However, genuinely ethically sourced stones adhere to positive practices.
What Are Conflict-Free Gemstones?
Conflict-free gemstones are stones that don’t fund terrorism, civil wars, or similar actions. The most widely known example of these practices are conflict-free diamonds, but those are by no means the only ones.
It is important to note that conflict-free gemstones aren’t by default ethically sourced. These gems might be gathered using environmentally harmful techniques, but they are still conflict-free since the money doesn’t fund a conflict.
Typically, all ethical gemstones are conflict-free. However, not all conflict-free gemstones are ethical.
Are There Sustainable Gemstones?
Generally, something is considered sustainable if it is easily replenished in the environment, either naturally or with a bit of help from people, or is otherwise renewable. For example, bamboo grows and regenerates quickly, so it’s considered a sustainable source for building materials.
Generally, there aren’t any sustainable gemstones. While these mineral-based formations do occur naturally, the process required to create a naturally occurring gemstone can take decades, centuries, or even many millennia. As a result, most gems are considered a finite resource, barring very few exceptions.
For example, while a pearl isn’t a stone in the traditional sense, it’s effectively used like a gemstone. Many consider pearls to be the most sustainable jewelry-quality gem around, as they form relatively quickly. Plus, if they are ethically sourced, they are eco-friendly, too. As a result, it may be one of the most ethical gemstones around.
Do All Jewelry Designers Use Ethically-Sourced Gemstones?
No, not all jewelry designers use ethical gemstones. Often, ethically sourced gems are more expensive and with good reason. Environmentally-friendly mining techniques and processing approaches can be more costly to operate. Additionally, paying fair wages means spending more on labor costs.
When stones are sold, part of the price is determined by how much money it took to get the stone ready for sale. If the necessary steps come with a higher cost, that gets passed on to buyers, leading to higher price tags.
Not all jewelry designers are willing to shoulder the expense of ethical gemstones. As a result, they turn to lower-cost alternatives, some of which may not be ethically sourced or conflict-free.
Now, sometimes a jewelry designer isn’t knowingly using stones that aren’t ethical. They may be unaware of the practices the producer used, for example, or not completely sure of where the gem came from in the first place. Details about a gemstone’s source aren’t always easy to come by, depending on where they make their gem-related purchases.
However, jewelry designers who understand the importance of ethical gemstones typically go the extra mile to ensure they find reliable sources. That way, they can create beautiful designs using stones collected in an eco-friendly and ethical manner.
Finding Ethical Stone Jewelry
Ethical jewelry is certainly available and can be fairly easy to find, as long as you use the right approach.
While many jewelry designers will proudly announce if they use ethical gemstones in their jewelry, they may or may not be listed in the product descriptions. Some certainly will mention if the stones used in a particular piece are ethical or conflict-free, though others may focus their descriptions on other points.
You might need to learn about a jewelry designer’s sourcing from the About Us page on their website in some cases. There may be a statement on the Home Page, as well.
Otherwise, your best bet may be to learn about the origins of the particular stone. Some locations are known for having ethical practices. At times, local regulations play a big role, ensuring that everything from an area is produced the right way.
For example, ammolite from Canada is often ethically sourced. Howlite from the United States, boulder opals from Australia, and spectrolite from Finland also typically fall in this category, among others.
Generally, gemstones mined and processed in affluent “western” countries are more likely to be ethically sourced, mainly because producers are subject to strict environmental laws and labor regulations. However, that doesn’t mean stones from other nations may not also be ethical or that all stones from westernized countries qualify.
If finding ethical gemstone jewelry is your priority, it’s wise to do some research. Review information available from the jewelry designer as a starting point, as that’s usually a great way to learn a bit about the stones used.
Fierce Lynx Designs Gemstone Sources
At Fierce Lynx Designs, we understand the importance of using ethically sourced semi-precious stones and other gems. That’s why we turn to places like Dakota Stones, a resource that maintains high standards for gemstone sourcing. Our goal is to ensure that our natural stone jewelry is of the highest quality and standards, striving always to use reliable sources of material that hold themselves to the strictest ethical codes.
Additionally, we make use of upcycled gemstone materials in our pieces. For example, the composite stones you find in some of our designs – such as pieces featuring impression jasper and regalite – are made from leftover gemstone material that occurs during the cutting and shaping process. When that material is combined with resin, it fuses it together and can be shaped into breathtaking beads. It’s an eco-friendly approach, ensuring no usable material is wasted.
We are proud to produce ethical gemstone jewelry. Not only is it better for people, but it’s better for the planet, too.
At Fierce Lynx Designs, we also go further to help protect the planet by donating 10 percent of all profits to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. It’s just one more step we like to take to play a role in creating a brighter tomorrow for ourselves and future generations.