Tanzanian and Malawi Ethical Rubies
Sieving team with recycled water in a fair trade ruby mine, Tanzania.
At a Glance
- Our rubies are sourced from companies that have set up operations in Tanzania and Malawi. On site, the companies work within their own established fair trade protocol, offering excellent wages and social benefits for the larger community.
Our ethical rubies can be traced from mine to market. We source our ethical rubies for our wedding and engagement rings from Tanzania and Malawi.
An ancient story describes rubies as originating from Vela, a primordial god. In a great battle his body was ripped apart. His red blood formed in pools, becoming crystalline rubies scattered around certain parts of the globe. Vela represents a cathartic, primordial, untamed force, and the creative and destructive elemental energy of fire, water and rock. The blood represents the life essence of that cosmic play. Buddha statues are often adorned with a ruby on the forehead, symbolizing the omniscient "third eye", the eye of intuition and knowing which penetrates the thought and feelings of others.
We source rubies from two places: Malawi and Tanzania. In both cases, the companies that provide the rubies work under their own fair trade approaches. There's a complete mine to market chain of custody. The rubies are completely natural, without heat treatment.
We are also working on sourcing rubies from Inuit miners in Greenland, where we have been campaigning for their rights through our Fair Jewelry action network for the past six years. Recently, small-scale miners have been given the legal right to mine in remote locations and export out of the country. We're hopeful that in 2015, we will be able to offer Greenland rubies.
- One of the companies we source from operates in Malawi. The zones around the mine and the village are protected, and all water sources are safeguarded. Impact from the mine areas are minimized and fully reclaimed.
Fair compensation well above any minimum wage is paid to miners. There are bonuses, promotions and some health insurance. In addition, this company has built a school that has an enrollment of 450 for the children of the miners and others in the village.
The rubies are cut in China, at a facility which pays three times the standard wage. Workers are given free room and board, a food allowance, paid vacation, paid overtime, disability, an annual bonus and unemployment insurance is available.
Buddha statues are often adorned with a ruby on the forehead, symbolizing the omniscient "third eye."
- These rubies are mined by a small company founded in 2008, by an international photo journalist. He formed a partnership with a Tanzanian friend, who otherwise could not have afforded to develop the site. At the mine, the miners are fed, housed, paid above the standard wages for skilled craftsmen, and share in bonuses.
Before any exploration takes place, an environmental impact statement is conducted. During the mining process, recommendations of the study are strictly followed. Mining is done horizontally on a hill and erosion is controlled at all times. Topsoil is removed and placed adjacent to the pit. As sections are complete, rock soil, followed by topsoil, is replaced. A horizontal, terraced area with topsoil has been created which local farmers utilize for crops which are rotationally planted.
Water is sourced directly from a spring, and stored in tanks. After use in the mine, water with sediment is able to settle before it is recycled. Thus, local water supply is not degraded. Unaffiliated villagers also have access to the clean water supply from the tanks.
- In terms of community support, regular contributions are made to a local hospital. The company has also invested in road improvement, allowing easier access to the village where the mining takes place. The community utilizes the water from the tanks they installed.
Cutting is done in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, benefiting the local Tanzanian economy all the way from mine through to the cutting process. The cutting operation has been cutting gemstones since 1958, and uses SEAMIC (Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre) trained cutters.
Reclaimed mining area in Tanzania.