May 1, 2019
Ethical issues surrounding the jewelry industry are often vague
and misunderstood. Movies like Blood Diamond examine these
problems, but we need to go deeper to fully understand the ethical
issues surrounding gold and diamond purchases. Marc Choyt is the
president of Reflective Jewelry. He joins us to answer all of your
questions on ethical jewelry and show you how your jewelry
purchases impact lives around the world.
Things You Don't Want To Miss:
Meet Today's Guest
- 1:25 - Marc Choyt is the president of Reflective Jewelry, the first and only
Fairtrade certified gold jewelry in the United States. He initiated
the first ethical jewelry blog in 2006 which eventually evolved
into Fair Jewelry Action, a human rights and
environmental justice network.
The Marc 101
- 3:20 - Marc's wife was a self-taught jeweler. In 1995, he
started driving around the country and trying to sell her
handiwork. At the time, he was also funding ecological
preservation, and an epiphany in his preservation efforts gave him
new awareness to the ecological harm brought about by gold mining
in other areas of the world. He wants the sourcing of his material
to match the symbolism behind his jewelry.
A Lack Of Information
- 6:20 - The average consumer doesn't know much about the
sourcing of gold and gemstones. We've heard about conflict
diamonds, but that's about it. Marc explains the narrowness of the
definition given to conflict diamonds.
- 9:10 - In the 80s and 90s, millions of people were killed in
wars funded by diamonds. However, nobody has been held accountable
for the decisions to fund those wars.
- 10:25 - Marc explains the issues surrounding the term "conflict
Where Are Gold And Diamonds Sourced?
- 13:09 - Marc explains the difference in large and small-scale
mining. Basically, 80 percent of the gold supply chain comes from
large-scale mining operations. However, small-scale mining
operations involve 90 percent of gold labor, and small-scale mining
operations are often dangerous and exploitive.
- 16:36 - Gold comes from veins running under the earth as well
as on the surface. It runs in all kinds of situations.
- 17:39 - Diamonds aren't as widely concentrated as gold. Diamond
resources tend to come from Canada, Russia, and South Africa.
Asking Questions Leads To Change
- 20:08 - "Mine Your Own Gemstone" shops are prevalent tourist
locations, especially in the mountains of North Carolina. The idea
is you get a bucket of dirt, and you sift through the mud to look
for stones. These businesses claim these stones are locally
sourced, and many times they are. However, you need to know where
your materials are coming from. Asking questions leads to
Question Your Jewelers
- 23:08 - Different mining operations involve different levels of
toxicity. Some operations are relatively harmless, but others
involve dangerous levels of mercury.
- 24:00 - Ask your jewelers where their resources are coming
from. The term "conflict free" is misleading, and it only scratches
the surface of the issues surrounding gold and diamond mining.
- 26:45 - We need to focus our energy on change that impacts the
small-scale miner. Certain purchases don't actually make a
difference, and we need to focus on impacting the lives of
Fair Trade Versus Fairtrade
- 31:50 - "Fair Trade" refers to the broader movement where
organizations source products from artisan communities. The idea is
that your business or organization is directly connected to the
community, and therefore, your customers' purchases directly impact
the lives of those who are making them.
- 33:09 - The term "Fairtrade" is trademarked by an organization
out of Bonn, Germany. It's called Fairtrade International, and the
organization conducts audits and provides certifications to
small-scale gold mining operations. The organization ensures
companies are upheld to a high standard of ethical practices.
- 34:52 - If you're a jeweler working with metals and gems, you
need to begin the process of determining where your source material
is being produced.
The Problem With Purchasing Lab Created
- 38:00 - The lab created diamond industry is up-and-coming.
Millennials especially like them because they typically cost a
fraction of the price of dug diamonds. However, buying lab created
diamonds doesn't address the issues associated with small-scale
- 45:30 - Whenever we talk about shopping ethically, listeners
tend to get overwhelmed. After all, it's a tricky task to totally
overhaul your lifestyle and buying habits. Remember, change starts
with baby steps. You don't have to completely revamp your wardrobe
overnight. Instead, slowly change your buying habits. Find one
ethically-made product you like, and start there. Think of it like
a diet. You don't get in shape overnight. It takes time, and you
have to be patient as you're going through the process.
A Change Of Heart
- 49:00 - The process of pursuing social justice starts with
aligning your heartfelt values with economic decisions. It's not
always easy to do that, and it requires you ask questions along the
A Memorable Moment:
"This process is about aligning our heartfelt values with our
- Marc Choyt
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