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Conflict Metals, Minerals, and Gems
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The blood diamond situation from decades ago has begun to rear its head with precious and industrial metals so know your source and what your purchase will be supporting!

(Preface: All of my precious metal jewelry has come from scrap and other materials that I process fully, making everything from shot and solder to jump rings and findings. These pieces have been created from the molecular level starting with my silver refining unit. There is positive karma associated with all of them.)

We've heard of "blood diamonds" and how they have decimated the natural resources of impoverished countries, caused civil wars and genocide, and been a black mark on humanity. Diamonds are an unstable allotrope of carbon and will eventually return to carbon dust. It puts things in perspective because people are exploited for what will eventually be worthless dust. Not exactly a girl's best friend....

 
Then again, it might be horrifying to learn the origin of our favorite toys and luxuries.
 
That awareness has spread to materials used in other industries including the tantalum in every modern electronic device or the gold plating on CPU chips. Along with tungsten and tin they have been identified as primary conflict metals. The facts behind them are just as eye-opening except many more people use conflict products.

With a broader definition, "conflict" could refer to the whole supply chain. Conflict-free doesn't mean organic, sustainable, ethical to our planet, safe, fair trade, or anything like that. The treatment of Mother Nature should be addressed since some mining practices are quite destructive and benefit few people.

Perhaps there is a better way to describe the totality of the manufacturing process from planning to final delivery of finished products. Then again, it might be horrifying to learn the origin of our favorite toys and luxuries.

It's easy to be fooled about how far-reaching and encompassing this is. The average home has many computers, TVs, microwave, appliances, cell phones, laptops, watches, even some toothbrushes! Compared to gemstones, there are many more conflict mineral items than solitaires.

Fortunately, world governments are aware of this problem and have taken significant steps to ensure an ethical (post-mining) supply chain. There's too much money so bad players will persist. Simply, a dollar spent locally can have a drastic influence a half-world away, a true butterfly effect. Choose wisely and set a precedent for others to follow.

To repeat, know what you are purchasing and its supply chain. We have to be more responsible with our choices, especially luxury ones.


Posted by M: June 12, 2015


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