My goodness are there some alluring stones in existence.
I began collecting cabochons (flat backed, cut stones you find in jewelry) I went nuts. I equated being at a gem show to the adult version of a candy store. I got so excited & bought so many beautiful, unique, shiny stones with so much excitement towards using them in the future. I did this as if in a vacuum; as if my actions had no consequence. I forgot my place in the web, or rather- I'd forgot to check in to reality- & look around the flip side of this excitement; namely the extraction process. Similar to the kid in the candy shop- who eats & eats & gets a stomach ache, only someday to find out (hopefully!) sugar production, single use plastic (the wrapper), & how conventional chocolate is sadly never fair-trade, but in fact is connect to lax child labor laws at best, as well as a multitude of other depressing related facts. Shopping for stones under the light of awareness does indeed make the experience... less sweet.
The environmental impacts of mining are many & can result in erosion, sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, or the contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water by the chemicals emitted from mining processes, deforestation & pollution.
While creating employment & (in some cases) community development projects- mining's effects don't off-set the potential negatives of forcing people from their homes and land to continue the quest on mineral rich land for more bounty. It's a poorly regulated industry & there is no way to ensure globally that child labor laws are honored, let alone even exist in some cases. People are effected by too often being mistreated, paid unfairly, & unsupported when they fall ill due to the chemicals & conditions affecting their health. In other words- it is a shit show in a lot of places & when I first began skipping down the halls & picking up what I pleased- I was basically blissfully unaware & like to think of myself as having a forgivable Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz moment that I'll never have again.
I have a LOT of stones from all over the words from years of collecting. They are dazzling. I love them. I will use them & I'll use them with love & put my best intentions into each piece. I will honor my craft of my dear clients with my energy.
And then I'll never buy them again from abroad, where regulations are iffy, & even when certified "ethical", still adjacent to a heavier footprint than I'd like to contribute to, in terms of CO2 emissions to just get the stuff over here!
Over the last year I have turned my focus towards companies that participate in ethical sourcing, over seas. I feel better about this but I know I can do better & must do better.
Once I phase out my last batch, I hereby declare to only use stones mined in the USA. I have a lot already, but in a couple of years, my options will be "reduce" to agate, emerald, beryl, coral, diamond, garnet, bentonite, feldspar, jade, jasper, opal, quartz, ruby, sapphire, shell, hiddenite, sunstone, pearl, peridot, ammolite, topaz, tourmaline, turquoise... stones found domestically, unless of course I physically travel to a region abroad with reputable mines & can pick up stones with my own hands! Yes please. This leaves a lot of wiggle room. Hopefully by then I'll be cutting my own stones! Who knows what the future holds. I'm just glad to be gaining awareness & to be on the right side of action.