I’ve been back from Africa for a month, and today I am going to finally begin to post about my experiences.
I have been stuck, and after much thought I realized what has stymied me.
My intent of this trip was not only to shorten the supply chain of colored gemstones by sourcing the rough myself, but also to satisfy my personal hearts desire.
I wanted to talk to the miners about their work-are they profiting fairly and are they treated well?
I wanted to witness the journey of the rough gemstone as it emerged from the earth all the way to its new home in my custom jewelry.
I wanted to contribute to this transparency and know that I have not contributed to the illegal, immoral, and horrific activity that can be funded by the revenues from these rare resources.
I still want all these things, but this African adventure has brought up many more questions than were answered. I was feeling uneasy about sharing my experiences and opinions; I felt I did not have all the answers; I got stuck.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the value of my experience can’t be based on simply learning facts about the sustainability of gem mining and fair trade wages alone. I hope that it can be the catalyst for deeper questions regarding the ethics of the gemstone industry. To tickle us into wanting to know more about where the beauty comes from and how it gets to us.
I will begin a day by day summary that will include: an interview with Shamsa Diwani-the secretary general of the Tanzania Women Miners Association, a visit to an artist’s colony that employs some of Tanzania’s most unemployable, and a full detail of time I spent in the bush at the mine sites.