Telling a Different Story

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Profiles of two of the industry’s leaders in responsible sourcing

By Shawna Kulpa

Consumers love a good story, and jewelry, with its sparkling gemstones, storied history, and romantic underpinnings, has lent itself to many an intriguing tale. But there’s also a side of the jewelry industry that doesn’t make for a good story—one where precious metals are mined by enslaved labor or underage children in deplorable conditions, where gemstones fund wars and terrorist activities. And for consumers who learn more about those stories, jewelry quickly loses its luster.

Thankfully, there’s been a movement afoot to ensure that good stories can still come to the fore. Its leaders include Eric Braunwart, owner of Columbia Gem House, and designer Toby Pomeroy, founder of the Mercury Free Mining Challenge. Braunwart has taken the lead in pushing for responsibly sourced colored gemstones, while Pomeroy has been working to find ways to eliminate the use of mercury by small-scale and artisanal gold miners. While they both admit the industry has a long way to go on each of these fronts, they’re determined to make a difference. On the following pages, they share how they’ve found themselves on the path, as well as how they see their initiatives contributing to the greater good of the industry.