Where does gold come from?
Sometimes gold comes from the Philippines, where young boys go out on a ramshackle raft equipped with a sub-sub-sub-standard air compressor and a length of rubber tubing as their only breathing apparatus. These children spend hours, every single day, beneath filthy, feces-laden waters, mining the silt beneath the river bank for minuscule flecks of gold. It is dark, dangerous work that imperils the children’s health and well-being – not to mention the fact that children belong in school! Children are hurt. Sometimes they drown and die. But if they make it through, they do get paid – generally, about $5 a day.
Did you know that? Even if you didn’t, there’s an increasingly good chance that your customers will – or that they’ll have heard of blood diamonds, perhaps through the Leonard DiCaprio movie. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds and tanzanite all have problematic backgrounds, including environmental degradation and child labor associated with the mining processes.
Whether you’re a jewelry designer, brand, or retailer, the sourcing of diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals is an ethical issue you need to be aware of. As a baseline, you at least want to know that the jewelry you’re offering to your customers is jewelry that they can wear confidently, knowing that the materials in it are obtained without sending little kids directly into harm’s way.
That’s part of the reasoning behind why Lisa Bride of Ben Bridge and Eric Braunwart of Columbia Gem House are partnering to present a Jewelry Industry Summit this summer. We’ll be watching to see what type of information comes out of this summit; more importantly, we’ll be concentrating on how you can most effectively communicate your company’s ethical stance via your website, social media, mobile presence, and other marketing channels. This is an issue that’s not going away. Now is the time to start thinking about how you can get ahead of the curve and clearly connect with the increasing ranks of jewelry buyers who care about these issues.