With Valentine’s day right around the corner, it’s expected that there will be a handful of gifts exchanged, including those with gemstones and pearls. This could be in the form of a ring, bracelet, earrings etc. For centuries, women have flashed their shiny jewels on their left hand to indicate engagement or marriage and is a symbolic way for one person to show their commitment to another by spending big money on precious diamonds. However, behind each stone is a horrific reality for children or impoverished people being forced to work in dangerous situations just to provide a small gemstone. Sadly, those who do stand against the diamond mining industry are uneducated about the process or truth behind other gems and don’t realize that they also include inhumane treatment of humans or animals.
Probably the most recognized gem out there is a diamond. It is a stone that’s presence generally indicates wealth or a relationship status. You don’t wear diamonds without anyone thinking of the thousands you paid for that little thing, or how long you saved up to finally pop the big question. However, what we don’t think about is the hard labor put into getting them. According to brilliant earth, about 13% of the world’s diamonds are produced from African mines, which pay poorly and are home to a large amount of child laboring. Not only are workers treated unethically, but the conditions in which they have to work in are full of safety hazards and contamination. Thousands of people in the mining industry are injured or affected health wise by the massive amount of weight, heat, and dust they come into contact with while working. The pay they receive still leave them digging everywhere they can for food, and leave little money left for health, food or shelter needs.
Sadly it’s not only the diamond industry that remains unethical to its workers.
Other gems such as Rubies, Sapphires, Topaz etc. are coming from mines as well, which of course have the same conditions that any diamond mine would have. Overall the production of gemstones is highly hazardous to the worker’s health, and manufacturers are taking advantage of children and impoverished peoples naivety and treating them less than they should.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but pearls are another source used for a lot of jewelry. It’s no secret that the world’s oceans are already suffering, but the pearl industry is only damaging it more. Every year hundreds of thousands of Oysters are slaughtered in desperation of gaining 1 pearl out of them. Not only that but a lot of the time, people mistake other types of mollusks for oysters and are killing them as well. Out of all the stones mentioned, this is the only one that involves some form of animal cruelty. Either type of jewel/gem, you’re picking your own poison.
How can we spare these children or animals? Well You have a Few Options
Recycled or Vintage!
This can save the energy spent to clean and process and new types of gems or stones and also spare a worker the dangerous conditions they would endure if they were collecting fresh jewels. Look through mom or grandmas antique jewelry boxes! Nothing is wrong with a refurbished ring or piece of jewelry. In fact, they might hold more sentimental value than a new ring.
Little known fact, you can actually make gemstones in the lab! No, it’s not Cubic Zirconia, it’s actually called an Adia Diamond which is totally environmental friendly! Other stones can be produced in the same type of manner and will result in the same shine an beauty just as a “real” mined stone would. There is also some glass made types of jewelry designed specifically to resemble diamonds but in the long run won’t harm any person, environment, or animals.
You also can do extended research on companies who only gain their stones in ethical ways and invest in an eco-friendly piece of jewelry
So long story short, you don’t HAVE to have a diamond ring; especially if you are one to prefer the humanitarian or eco-friendly type of products. Tell your family or Bae that you want something more ethical. Explain that it’s just as gorgeous and meaningful. Or hit up Grandma and see if she’s going some jewelry to spice up your wardrobe. In the end, we need to be investing our money and time in products that are not hurting animals, humans or the environment. With the progression of “Going Green” and ethical treatment of all people, there should be no reason that we can’t abolish the hazardous practices behind jewel mining and replace them with something that makes everyone happy!