Tanzanian, Malawi and Greenland Ethical Rubies

Tanzanian and Malawi Ethical Rubies
A sieving team using recycled water at a fair trade ruby mine located in 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. We also can now offer rubies from Greenland, sourced an cut by the Inuit people.
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. After his body was ripped apart in a great battle, his blood formed in pools— becoming the 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 our rubies from two places: Malawi and Tanzania. In both cases, the companies that provide these rubies work under their own fair trade approaches. There's a complete mine to market chain of custody. And these rubies are completely natural— they do not undergo heat treatment.

We are also working on sourcing rubies from small-scale Inuit miners in Greenland, and have been campaigning for their rights through our Fair Jewelry Action network since 2009. As of 2017, a viable export channel of distribution to international markets has yet to be created. But we are hoping that the situation will change in the future.
Malawi 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 is minimized through reclamation efforts.

Fair compensation well above any minimum wage is paid to miners. There are bonuses, promotions, and health insurance. In addition, this company has built a school that has an enrollment of 450 for the children of miners and others in the village.

These rubies are cut in China, at a facility paying three times the standard wage. Workers there are given free room and board, a food allowance, paid vacation, paid overtime, and disability. An annual bonus and unemployment insurance are both available.

Buddha statues are often adorned with a ruby on the forehead, symbolizing the omniscient "third eye."

Tanzanian Rubies
Our Tanzanian rubies are mined by a small company that was founded in 2008 by international photo journalist and his Tanzanian friend. Miners there are fed, housed, and paid above the standard wages for skilled craftsmen. They also share in bonuses.

Before any mining 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 completed, rock soil— followed by topsoil— is replaced. Horizontal, terraced areas with topsoil are created. Local farmers utilize these for crops, which are rotationally planted.
Water is sourced directly from a spring, and stored in tanks. After being used in the mine, water with sediment is allowed to settle before it is recycled. Thus, local water supply is not degraded. Villagers unaffiliated with the mine also have access to the clean water supply from the tanks.

In terms of community support, this mine makes regular contributions to a local hospital. They’ve also invested in road improvement, allowing easier access to the village where the mining takes place.

Cutting is done in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania— meaning the local Tanzanian economy reaps further benefits from this mining. The operation in question has been cutting gemstones since 1958, and uses SEAMIC (Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre) -trained cutters.
Reclaimed mining area in Tanzania.
Greenland Rubies
Greenland Ruby is all-natural product from a native source in an entirely un-treated state. The Greenland ruby is the oldest ruby in the world, some say the wisest. It has become the “Anvil of Independence” as a young nation emerges from the last vestiges of colonialism in modern Europe. It is a chalice of Inuit awakening in a time of global warming and drastic climate change in the Arctic.

We were involved in the Greenland Ruby campaign. Marc broke the story with this article. This began a campaign Fair Jewelry Action campaign.

In 2018, after over ten years of struggle, the Inuit Greenlanders can now export their rubies. Reflective Jewelry can now source Greenland rubies. Contact us if you'd like one for your piece of jewelry.

For Inuit Greenlanders, ruby mining is a family affair.