Ethical lapidary

What makes a lapidary “ethical”?

Short supply chain

Relatively few mines sell directly to retail stores. Most often, a lapidary (stone polishing factory) is a crucial part of the journey from Earth to a crystal's pocket. Ideally, the lapidary should be located in the same country as the mine and source its supplies directly from it. In some cases, the lapidary may travel to other countries or meet mine owners at major international gem exhibitions. Good relationships are often established this way. Lapidaries also source their supplies from “gem hunters” who travel to remote rural areas in search of artisanal mines.

Good safety standards

An ethical lapidary must have good safety standards in place to protect factory workers. Proper safety equipment includes eye protection and a respirator for hand polishing of crystals. The space should be well ventilated and have a water spray system to prevent dust from entering the air. Many common healing crystals contain silica, which can be breathed in as dust during the polishing process. Over time, this can lead to silicosis, a fatal lung disease.

Fair wages

Stone tumbling is the lowest job in the gem cutting and polishing industry. In some lapidaries, the stones are tumbled loose into a drum. In other lapidaries, small stones are polished individually by hand. Accurate salary information is rarely available. But deductions can be made by studying the political and economic situation of the country where the lapidary is located. Further inferences may be made based on the lapidary's other activities and business philosophy. For example, a company that donates to charity or prides itself on its low carbon footprint is more likely to treat its employees well.

Signs of a Good Small Lapidary Business

In general, small businesses and family businesses offer an important advantage over large corporations: Access to the owner. Often the owner of the lapidary is directly available to answer questions about their actions, business practices and relationships with the mines. In an industry where so much is hidden, being able to look someone in the eye and observe their body language is extremely helpful. Sometimes we can learn more by what is not said, rather than by what is said. Small lapidaries cannot compete with large companies on price. The larger the lapidary, the lower the price of stone cutting. However, smaller lapidaries may have better quality stones. They can also extract stones from small deposits that a large lapidary would ignore.

Progressive business philosophy

The best business relationships are based on shared goals and ideals. Shivshakti wants to promote humanitarian work, environmental protection and education.

Valuable business partners are:

- Lapidaries who financially support local schools or donate to charitable causes;

- Lapidaries who have a low carbon footprint and who take environmental issues seriously;

- Lapidary owners who believe change is possible and strive to always improve.

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