Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The "Green" movement and its effect on jewelry making~ Part 2 Gemstones

Welcome back, readers!  Here is part two in my series exploring the effect that the 'green' movement is having on jewelry makers.  I would like to explore the realm of gemstones as today's topics. 
I know many jewelry designers and creators, myself included, love to work with gemstones.  Whether they are in bead form, cabachons or faceted stones, there's just something about a gemstone that is unique and attracting to the eye. 
To start with, there are typically two types of gemstones on the market today: natural gemstones straight from the earth and man made or grown gemstones from labratories.  These two options in and of themselves can often spark controversy.  So, let's take them seperately, starting with natural gemstones.
Natural gemstones, like another other mineral in the earth, are a limited resource.  Since these minerals occur naturally in our earth, this means that is can take thousands of year and the perfect conditions for some of these minerals to build back up into the stones we recognize as gemstones.  So, while the earth is still capable of producing more of these mineral deposits, it is a very lengthy and condition specific task.
With that being said, there does not seem to be a visable end to the supply of many gemstones at this point in time.  I have not found any information about gemstone depletion aside from an article about Tanzanite.  Many tourist spots across the US and around the world have mines where tourists themselves can mine, dig and pan for precious and semi precious gemstones.  I myself have done this time and time again.  It's an enjoyable activity!  And it's nice to see exactly where your gemstones and beads are coming from.  It can also teach you a lot about the properties of certain stones.  For example, mining your own opal can very quickly teach a person how very fragile this mineral is.  The tendency of veins of opal in rock to crack and shatter while being dislodged from the earth is a clear indication of what care one must take with a ring displaying a fragile opal.  I've had many a friend who have had their prized opal rings crack and shatter.
There's a lot of controversy surrounding the mining of gemstones like rubies, diamonds and emeralds.  In countries outside of the US where these stones are mined, the workers and work conditions are not what they ought to be.  Because of this, many jewelrs are looking for  what are called "conflict free" gemstones to use.  An excellent source for more information regarding this is the following link:
Synthetic, man made or labratory grown gemstones are different in that they are not naturally occuring in the earth itself.  Scientists and geologists have done the research and discovered methods of growing these mineral deposits in controlled labratory environments.  Thus, they have created man made rubies, emeralds, diamonds and sapphires.  Much of today's commericially sold jewelry is actually made utilizing these stones.  After all, they look the same, have the same properties and the cost tends to be much lower.  There is less labor involved with growing gemstones versus mining them from the earth. 
So, there's a little more information and a really goo resource on the topic of gemstones.  If any of my readers have more information or some informative links or resources, please leave that infor in the comments section so I can update and better inform my other readers.  Feel free to add!

No comments: