Social Impact and Ethical Sourcing
Commitment to Social Impact
Throughout our history, we have given back to our community in a variety of ways: monetary donations to local nonprofits, donating products for silent auctions and providing art workshops to raise money to name a few. The idea of giving back to our community has always been an informal aspect of the business, but it hasn't been a focal point. 2018 changed that. We have restructured our business to be one of social impact, and this idea has become the cornerstone that everything else is built upon.
Our local community is of vital importance to us. We brainstormed a list of local nonprofits that we respect and are doing amazing things in the community and throughout the world. After looking at our list, we realized that only one tied in with our, The Exodus Road. The Exodus Road is a nonprofit based in Monument, Colorado that targets human trafficking all around the world. Human trafficking is a modern phrase for an age-old trade, slavery. Per the Exodus Road's website, "Those affected by human trafficking live in 136 countries, including the
United States, Canada, and Europe. 70% of those enslaved are women and children. They are forced to work in brothels, on fishing boats, in factories, and private homes. These individuals suffer inhumane conditions, without fair pay, or opportunity to leave. 67% live in Asia alone." We realize that fighting the unethical practices in the jewelry trade is impossible for us to do alone, but we recognize the amazing impact that the Exodus Road has had in the human trafficking world. We have pledged to donate 10% of all profits from every workshop to The Exodus Road. For more information about The Exodus Road, and the fantastic work that they do, please visit their website: theexodusroad.com.
Commitment to Ethical Sourcing
From metal processing to the mining of stones, the drilling of beads and faceting of stones, and the packaging and shipping of goods, the jewelry industry is permeated by unethical practices. Child labor, horrible working conditions, human slavery, forcible takeovers of mines by local governments, funding terrorism and wars, just to name a few. Human trafficking is a serious problem that seems impossible to combat. To do our part, we strive to buy our products from reputable sources. Our sterling silver is mined in the United States and sold by a US company. Buying from US companies ensures that our metal is made by people protected by human rights and labor laws. We purchase our turquoise from a New Mexican family that purchases directly from mines in the US and Mexico. Meaning, we aren't funding cartels and corrupt government officials. The rest of our stones are purchased from US companies, like Dakota Stones, who visit the factories they buy from. Dakota Stones works directly with factories in China to guarantee both the quality of product and working conditions. Where the stone industry is currently, it is almost impossible to not buy a product from China. We do our best to buy US materials where we can, dependent on cost-effectiveness and availability, but realize it's not always possible. If US materials aren't feasible, we move to products from our hemisphere, and then to those from China.
Another aspect of ethical sourcing that we focus on has to do with raw materials profiting war and terrorism. These are commonly referred to as conflict minerals or conflict stones. An example of this is Lapis Lazuli. Lapis is a beautiful deep blue stone that is found in Afghanistan. When we first purchased Lapis, it wasn't considered a conflict stone; however, it became one in 2016. At this time, it was discovered that most lapis mines were forcibly seized in January 2014. It is estimated that 50% of the profit made from Lapis sales goes directly to the Taliban. Lapis also fuels government corruption. Evidence shows that several government officials directly benefit from illegal lapis trading. Also, the people who mine the lapis are forced to do so and suffer greatly in the process. Because of all the social and political implications of Lapis, we no longer purchase Lapis. What we have in stock was purchased long before Lapis was labeled a conflict mineral and it will be the last that we use for the foreseeable future. (source: Global Witness www.globalwitness.org/afghanistan-lapis/).
One question that we are asked regularly is, what stones are
considered "conflict minerals"? We wish there was an easy way to answer this question. After extensive research, we were unable to find a complete list of all conflict minerals. The best rule of thumb is to look at the source of the stone. If the stone is mined in a country that is currently experiencing war, has a high level of terrorism, or has a government that is forcibly taking control of resources, then it is most likely a conflict mineral. If you are ever unsure about a stone's origin, ask the supplier. If they are unable, or unwilling, to tell you where they buy their stones, then you may want to buy from another place. We wish there was a better system in place, but there isn't. All you can do is educate yourself on the source of specific stones and use your best judgment.