Ethical Gem Fair: We See Progress
Ethical Gem Fair
Tucson: We had a chance to visit the fair and not a surprise, it was genuinely heartwarming to meet with such passionate and empathetic members of the gem trade.
Yes, there is a lot of work yet to be done, but you have to keep pushing forward, and this is why they are here.
We talked to several exhibitors who gave us a bit more insight into the tasks ahead. And the conversation was not just about their business or their show. It was about the gem trade, and what the future possibilities hold.
Stuart Pool, co-founder of Nineteen48, described it this way. “For me, the show is all about the conversations that we have to build relationships with new customers or strengthen those with existing ones. There was a constant flow of people at my table across most of the 4 days and some very promising leads, as well as the necessary sales to make the event viable.
“I also think that we continued to cultivate a welcoming, relaxed and inclusive space, where people could hang out for a while and return repeatedly if they wanted to.”
“It is a group of suppliers who are all doing something supportive for their respective source communities,” says Monica Stephenson, founder of ANZA Gems. “We find it useful to be in this edited environment that invites conversation.
“The Ethical Gem Fair exceeded our expectations, in terms of the quality of attendees, and the richness and breadth of the conversations we had,” says Stephenson. “The venue invites engagement: where things come from, how they get to market, who is involved… Hopefully, yes, the gems are beautiful. But there is a story beyond that. And we’re happy to tell it, and our audience appreciates it.
“We were excited to talk about our new pilot project of precision-cut smaller colored gems and melee faceted by a small group of artisanal cutters in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Traceable to the miner we purchased from at Moyo Market Days, it’s pretty special to have brilliant melee that is associated with a specific miner who benefits from the purchase! This allows us to purchase the smaller rough offered by the women artisanal miners in Tanzania and Kenya, and gives designers a traceable alternative for smaller gems…a true win/win!”
“The show was great,” exclaims Eric Braunwart of Columbia Gem House. What stood out for Braunwart this year was that the recognition of what he and his team at Columbia Gem House started so many years ago is actually finally taking root! Braunwart has been beating the socially responsible, environmentally responsible, fair trade ethical supply chain drum for at least two decades, trying to drag the industry forward along with him. And now he finally sees it happening. And because he had all of this in place, he was ready. “Better cutting, targeted small batch cutting, traceable and supportive supply chains, and a unique variety of colored stones, all seemed to be what brought customers to us.”
Brian Cook had some help with his 3rd generation at Nature’s Geometry. “I am proud that their interest in the magic and science of gems and minerals is alive and well.” Cook notes that the younger generation is attracted to the science of minerals. He sees that every year at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show (TGMS), the largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.
“We also note that the ‘ethics and sustainability’ of our industry has been pushed to the megaphone from upper echelon to the humble bench jeweler, in no small part due to the strong percentage of youth and youthful, demanding accountability, traceability, and integrity.
“We at EGF have the opportunity to have that ‘fireside chat’ during a trade event. We all are thrilled to talk about these subjects. We tell what we know from experience, and we admit what we don’t know. This is a journey.”