Katrina Kelly Jewelry Exploring Responsible Gem Sourcing at Tucson Gem Shows
Katrina Kelly Jewelry Exploring Responsible Gem Sourcing at Tucson Gem Shows is a post about my recent adventure! I am just back from the annual Tucson Gem Shows and was flanked by so many precious gems! Of course, I came across some amazing gems that may need to be incorporated into Katrina Kelly Jewelry designs: From Aquamarines, Tourmalines, Spinels, Emeralds, Opals, and so many more! Also, I attended an array of educational lectures and seminars: market trends, communication, sales, gem identification, and responsible sourcing. It’s the responsible sourcing that I want to discuss here. What is responsible sourcing? My company Katrina Kelly Jewelry was exploring responsible sourcing of gems in Tucson. What this means in the jewelry and gemstone world may be rather elusive. As far as the gems used in Katrina Kelly Jewelry–this means I ask many questions. I spent a great deal of time asking gem dealers about their stones. What is the story of the gem? How did they source their gems? Where did they come from? Is the gem recycled? Did it come from their own mine? What was the procedure to get the gems? Was fair labor used? Did that mine provide economic benefits to locals? Will the land be put back in the same condition, or better condition than it was before, etc.?
How do we make the gemstone trade responsible and economically beneficial for the people living in gemstone rich communities?
“One approach to resolving these problems has been to begin developing frameworks (e.g. ethical, responsible, ‘fair trade’ gemstones) that strive to promote sound environmental management and greater economic benefits for mining communities…” The industry may offset past excavations that were ecologically unsafe and destructive by integrating members of the gemstone trade into efforts to increase benefits for locals living in the gemstone producing areas. This is what my friend Monica Stephenson is doing. She is connected to this type of responsible outreach. Check out the AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY she was involved in called Sharing of the Rough “It documents the never-before-captured process of following a gemstone from mine to market. More than that, it tells the story of the intricate relationships that make jewelry more than just pretty objects but an expression of our collective humanity.
Other companies are also thinking of alternatives–like not mining for diamonds at all; only offering lab-grown diamonds, like the fine jewelry company AIDIA. I designed their signature collection and got to know the company’s dedication to finding alternative, and environmentally conscious resources.
The jewelry industry is nothing like what it used to be. Even though many designers are not outright promoting “sustainable jewelry”, “green jewelry”, “responsible jewelry” “Fairtrade”, and the like jewelry, does not mean they are not on board, and already using responsible sourcing (some jewelry designers are stating they are “green”, when they simply are not–it just makes for a trendy marketing sound bite). I think of this movement a bit like the organic food movement–the USDA organic food mark, vs. the local farmer that you know does not use harmful pesticides. It just costs more to get that mark; and one designer may have 6% of their gemstones that they do now know where they came from– because they bought them 20 years ago, or they are upcycling it from an existing ring…Therefore, they cannot ethically state they are 100% green. Recycled and upcycled metal is used more often than one would think. Responsible sourcing is as well. And like myself, most designers I know are using recycled and/or upcycled metal (gold has pretty much always been recycled by the way) and asking their suppliers questions: how did they source their gems, where did they come from, is it their own mine, what was the procedure to get the gems, was fair labor/fairtrade used, will that mine be put back better than it was before, do the resources of the land benefit people of that land? This post could really go on and on as it’s such a interesting and ever-changing topic…for now, know that jewelry is intrinsic, and has many positive economic and social benefits to people, and may be recycled, upcycled…Again, this documentary demonstrates this so well! Sharing of the Rough
A huge shout out to all the REAL precious gems I’m flanked and surrounded by in these pictures: Erika Winters, Judi Powers, Monica Stephenson, Shamila Jiwa and Becky Stone!
 Conservation Gemstones: Beyond Fair Trade? Posted by Saleem Ali of University of Delaware (USA) and University of Queensland (Australia) on January 12, 2012; Guest post by Laurent E. Cartier and Vincent Pardieu