Gemstones: ecological and socio-economic issues

Colored gemstones have been mined and used as adornments since ancient times. However, emeralds, sapphires, opals, rubies and all the other precious gems we mine are non-renewable resources, which means that geological deposits are finite and we will eventually no longer be able to extract them. The good news is that gemstones are very durable and once mined, they can maintain their beauty for decades and even centuries. The possibility of emptying the available geological deposits is slim, but we still need to take into consideration other ecological and socio-economic issues when mining precious stones such as the impact certain extracting methods has on our environment and the so-called “blood diamonds and gems” that fund wars in third world countries. One approach to solving the ever-growing problems is to urge people purchase only ethical gems, a term used to describe precious stones mining that offers benefits not troubles to mining communities.

Gemstones can be found in a variety of geological contexts and oftentimes extracting them is a challenge. Whether we talk about engineering difficulties or the fact that the extraction method might cost more than the actual value of the gem, mining companies encounter numerous problems during the extraction stage. The solution, cutting extraction costs, has terrible consequences. This is why gemstone mining is often associated with hard and unsafe working conditions, environmental degradation and very low earnings. The fact that miners do not earn much, not even a fraction of the cost of the gems they extract is appalling and one of the reasons why ethical gemstones are promoted as of recent years. Wholesale suppliers that can prove the origin of their precious stones demonstrating that they were responsibly sourced are preferred to sellers that might have procured gems from companies that exploit their workers and use mining methods damaging for the environment.

You can divide gem mining into two operations: large industrial mines and small-scale digging sites. The small-scale gem mining has a negligent impact on our environment, while industrial mining disturbs and destroys wide portions of land, their purpose only to deplete that land of all precious resources. Methods like acid rock drainage have a long-term impact on our environment and health. Despite this fact, industrial mining is rapidly gaining ground against traditional mining increased the negative effects by taking away the only source of income of numerous families living in regions where gemstones and diamonds can be found. Ethical gemstones are sourced responsibly without these negative effects, so a way of supporting this cause and helping not only our planet, but also thousands of people exploited in this industry is by refusing to purchase anything but ethical gems.

The scandal with the blood diamonds still fresh in our minds, we are often unwilling to buy these precious stones, but as long as we check the reliability of the supplier, we can be sure that our engagement rings are not part of the controversy. The diamond industry has changed a lot from a decade ago. Provided that we make a little research, we can be sure that what we are buying is ethical. You can even find out the mine your ruby comes from by asking a specialist. Some organizations can trace back gemstones to their original mining spot even after decades.

For more information about ethical gems and ethical gemstones, you should click on these links!

About Jennifer Garrett

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