Eco-Friendly and Ethical Sourcing at Earth’s Treasury

As the founder of Earth’s Treasury, one of my top considerations is how to both respect the environment, and enrich the lives of those engaged in mining gems around the world.  Today, especially in the world of gems and jewelry, mining is frequently disparaged. However, the reality is that every facet of modern life depends on some form of mining, and mining can be done in a way that is environmentally responsible. In addition, millions of people around the world depend on mining as their main source of income. We want to be sure to  support these people and their families- especially the health, safety, and guarantee of a living wage for mine workers- while also supporting mining practices that have minimal environmental impact. Our stance here also extends to gem cutting and jewelry production.  A large percentage of the world’s gems are cut overseas and often in conditions that would be considered unacceptable here in the United States; the same applies to jewelry manufacturing and in recent years overseas production of jewelry has skyrocketed, all in an effort to reduce costs.

Gem Sourcing

At Earth’s Treasury, our gem sourcing is unique. By cutting our own gems from the rough crystals, we are one of the only companies to own the entire process between the mine and your hand. This allows us to ensure that the entire production chain–from gem mining to gem cutting and jewelry production–is conducted in the most environmentally responsible and ethical way possible. We try to source all of our gems as rough direct from the mines.  This allows us to ensure that our goals regarding the environment as well as the health and safety of the workers are being met.  One of the reasons we specialize in Montana sapphires is because are closely partnered with the largest mine in Montana, where we know there are very stringent environmental regulations. The mine is limited in how much land they can disturb each year; additionally, they rehabilitate and replant the mined area every year.  We visit the mine regularly and I personally know the owners. The mine is subject to some of the most intensive environmental oversight possible because of its proximity to Rock Creek- home to endangered bull trout. Regular inspections by the state of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality and the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ensure that environmental as well as health and safety standards are being met.

Outside of the United States, different rules apply.  While the vast majority of our sapphires come from the US, we also source sapphires from Sri Lanka, Africa, and Australia.  In the case of Sri Lanka, the government limits mining to small-scale operations in order to both preserve the supply and minimize the environmental damage.  Our African sapphires mostly come directly from small-scale artisanal miners who work alluvial deposits in Tanzania and Madagascar.  In both locations the money for the rough goes directly to the local miners in their community.  Our Australian sapphires are all mined by small-scale artisanal miners and mining is regulated in Montana in a very similar fashion to the US.

Diamonds are always a big question, and given the history of some diamond production globally, that’s to be expected. We only use G+ color and VS clarity natural diamonds in our made-to-order jewelry. All of our diamonds are sourced from Kimberley-process certified suppliers that guarantee ethical and conflict-free products, and we honor and support the ban on Russian diamonds. For those interested in diamonds with more complete traceability, we can source certified Canadian diamonds for an additional fee.

Gem Faceting

Faceting the rough crystal, known as gem cutting, is an important but frequently overlooked aspect of ethical gem sourcing. This is in part because most vendors of gems and jewelry have no visibility into the process, but mostly because they lack the ability to cut the gems themselves. Most gem cutting operations are located in places like China, India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka for economic reasons–these are places where labor is inexpensive and in Thailand and Sri Lanka there is a long history for the gem-cutting industry. Unfortunately, one of the contributors to the low costs are lax labor regulations. I firmly believe that ensuring the well-being and fair payment of workers who cut gems is just as important as the rest of the production chain.  At Earth’s Treasury, the majority of our gems are cut from the rough right here in the US, where we have full knowledge and control over the process.  A small percentage of our gems are cut in Thailand and Sri Lanka, where we are careful to only partner with organizations that provide a safe working environment and fair wages for their staff.

Jewelry Production

Virtually all of the jewelry sold by Earth’s Treasury is produced in-house from start to finish. Our dedicated team of jewelry designers and bench jewelers produce your pieces in our facility outside of Philadelphia, PA.  The only portion of the process that takes place outside of our facility is casting, where we ensure the highest quality by partnering with casting houses that can provide a team of experts and cutting-edge techniques with specialty equipment. These casting houses are committed to using recycled metals and proudly manufacture in the US.

While it is very important to us to always use recycled gold whenever possible, “recycled” is a loosely used term without a clear definition. A very high percentage of gold used in the US comes from recycled sources, but there are limits to its traceability. The casting house we work with is dedicated to using responsible, reputable, eco friendly suppliers whenever possible.