Fair Trade Protocols for Responsible Colored Gems

Home / Publications / Online Library / Fair Trade Protocols for Responsible Colored Gems

Doing It In-House

Columbia Gem House's system for qualifying stone suppliers

Jewelry makers dedicated to responsible practices can get frustrated when it comes to sourcing colored gemstones, since there currently aren’t any gemstone-specific certifications for suppliers.

That’s one of the reasons why Eric Braunwart, president of Columbia Gem House (CGH) in Vancouver, Washington, decided to create his own in-house system for qualifying his stone suppliers. In doing so, he also found a way to acknowledge and support the smaller and artisanal mining operations that don’t have the means to seek an all-inclusive certification, such as the RJC Code of Practices.

He started by establishing a set of what he called the Fair Trade Gems Principles, which affirm a commitment to protecting the environment; preserving cultural diversity; protecting workers’ rights in the mining, cutting, and manufacturing processes; providing education about mining, cutting, and other gem-related trends to industry members and consumers, as well as reinvesting in training and education for mining communities; maintaining product integrity; and presenting a fully transparent supply chain.

He then developed a set of protocols based on those principles. The Fair Trade Gems Protocols are broken down into five levels that enable CGH to provide the “story” behind a stone: