Statement on Sustainability and Ethics
These words have become buzz words used in marketing materials, and have lost their intended meaning. After deliberating about whether to have the words 'Sustainable' & 'Ethical' floating around the website, I realized a statement which addressed the meaning of these words was needed.
These words mean different things to different people, and have become a source of confusion. For some, this means only patronizing large, publicly held companies using block chain technology. For others, it means supporting small, artisanal miners and cutters, many of them working without formal licenses and distribution channels. Many artisanal miners are full time farmers who are trying to supplement their income during the off-season. This creates confusion for the end customer(that is you!), and people end up making generalizations about what constitutes ethical behavior. This sometimes results in avoiding entire countries and/or gemstones, effectively penalizing and crippling industries and workers trying to make an honest living. It's a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Some manufacturers and marketers of synthetic gemstones claim their products are 'ecologically friendly' because no direct mining was involved, but that is misleading. The manufacturing process for synthetics, in most cases, requires chemicals(many of which need to be mined), and a tremendous amount of energy.
While this attention and awareness to ethics and sustainability is certainly a step in the right direction, we have to do more than just tick boxes. Let's start thinking and choosing mindfully.
As a small business owner and artist, it's not possible for me to vouch for every single stone, and every gram of metal. But know that I am passionate about social justice and am committed to doing my best. At Golconda, we approach the terms sustainability and ethics holistically. we purchase raw materials from reputable sources. I primarily work with local craftspeople to produce my jewelry, and support local businesses. In addition, I travel overseas to visit the cutting factories, gem brokers and mines so that I can see the conditions first hand. This helps sustain and nurture a worldwide, interdependent jewelry community and simultaneously helps me produce the best quality work, using the finest materials.
So what do I suggest to those of you who are interested in buying jewelry, and are also concerned with the fourth C, Conscience, in addition to Cut, Color & Clarity? First, I commend you. May I humbly suggest thinking BIG? It's time for us to think holistically. Support your local artists and buy from local jewelers. For those of you who are buying from large, publicly held corporations, are women equally represented within the C-suite ranks? This is something you can easily look up. Do women, people of color and LGBTQ form part of the ranks of management and the entire workforce? I suspect that companies whose ranks are filled with a diverse and broad range of employees will naturally be able to implement, execute and maintain their commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices, given the diversity of voices and viewpoints.
It would be remiss of me to not mention a proverbial elephant in the room. It defies belief that women do not dominate an industry that is almost entirely reliant on women as end users. Support jewelers, cutters & polishers who are women. To be clear, I adore men who wear jewelry and my male craftsmen, but the numbers speak for themselves. This is a male dominated business that poorly services an overwhelmingly female end user. We've got to change that.
Think holistically. Be present and aware. Look for women, people of color and LGBTQ persons in leadership positions within large companies. Support local artists. The questions of ethics and sustainability is a thorny and complicated issue, but we are moving in the right direction. Rome was not built in one day. Please know that I, and GOLCONDA, are committed to creating a jewelry industry in which everyone has a seat at the table and shares in the bounty of this gorgeous blue iridescent marble hurtling through space which we all call home.
Thank you for reading.