ON THE ETHICS OF GEMSTONE MINING AND TRADING
Ethically correct production of the gemstones we trade and the well-being of the people involved are both very important to us.
At The Natural Gem you will only find gemstones that have been produced under fair circumstances and without any form of child labour. We also never trade in gemstones from areas of conflict. The general word-wide trend in gemstone trading is also in this direction. Countries such as Sri Lanka, Mozambique and Burma have forbidden large-scale industrial mining. Sources are once again being leased to local families to ensure their income and financial survival, the influence of international companies on gemstone mining has declined considerably and local cooperations are on the increase.
A further important point: in contrast to the mining of precious metals, gemstone mining involves neither the use of mercury nor acid. The simple reason for this is that they are not necessary.
As Sri Lanka has forbidden the use of industrial machinery in order to give rural people enough work to do, these clay sediments are mined by hand, primarily by men, as it is physically demanding work. A working day is typically only from 9 am until 3:30 pm, as good light is necessary to distinguish the gemstones from the surrounding gravel. As the tropical evening light is not bright enough, the working day finishes in the afternoon.
A mine operator in Sri Lanka is also responsible for the social welfare of his employees and their families. He pays for their doctor’s and hospital bills, as well as providing a pension fund. A typical monthly wage for a worker in a gemstone mine is double the average wages in Sri Lanka. Most young men in Sri Lanka see working in mining as a positive development step, as the higher income provides them with an opportunity to build a home of their own.
As is the case with Mozambique, Zambia and Burma, Sri Lanka has also mandated that all mines must be refilled after the removal of the gemstones, so that no permanent changes are made to the countryside.
On top of this, the Sri Lankan government has also made it compulsory for all gemstones found in the country to also be cut in Sri Lanka, thus ensuring that the chain of economic value is extended. They have also established a very good local gemmological institute (Ceylon Gem Lab – CGL), that checks every stone that is exported from Sri Lanka, to protect the international reputation of Sri Lankan gemstones.
We have often travelled to Sri Lanka to witness the ethical and ecological aspects of gemstone mining there and we invite you to accompany us on a trip to this beautiful country.