One woman’s journey to ethically source healing crystals
I was attending the 2019 Tucson Gem Show on The Day I Almost Quit My Business. I asked a seller a question and he replied, “What answer do you want to hear?” I was appalled by the lack of transparency and disregard for ethical issues. In that darkness, a fire was lit within me, resulting in 3000+ hours of research on stones and the ethical issues that impact them. My willingness to publish and speak on the record about this topic has made me a target of hackers who tried to destroy my business and led to NGOs and a UN Ambassador contacting me as a trusted source of information. Ethical sourcing requires radical transparency, which is why I share my journey with you.
In 2021, I made huge leaps and bounds forward towards making ethical sourcing more accessible for everyone. My lawyer politely asked me to shut up, at least until my invention is sitting on a desk at the US patent office. I kept quiet all year, but I was so excited to bring my invention to the world. So very, very, excited!
In 2022, I had to defend and rebuild everything. It feels like I’m dancing the cha-cha, one step forward, then two steps back. But I keep dancing. I keep twirling. I keep my feet moving. Now I’m officially patent pending, so my lawyer said I can talk. We’ll see how 2023 goes, the journey continues…
I was suppose to be gem-shopping, finding treasures for my customers. There I was, an early-bird at the Tucson Gem Show, the biggest mineral show in the world. I had a detailed plan of action and a shopping list. I had arrived relaxed and confident. I was ready to ethically-source healing stones. I was definitely NOT suppose to be disillusioned and reevaluating my career.
I’ve decided to keep at it. Rather than quitting, I’m committing to being the change I wish to see in the world. I have a healing crystal business. That’s what I do for 40+ hours every week. So that’s the logical place where I can make a difference. I’m not interested in pretending to make a difference, but really just passing the buck. I want to make a REAL difference.
It’s been fascinating to have so many different conversations about ethics in the gem and mineral industry. It’s a topic that immediately inspires fear and wariness. I’m careful who I talk to and how I bring it up. Each time I see fear flash across people’s eyes. It’s obvious that I’m breaking the unspoken rules.
The conference lasted two full days. All the people who care about ethical jewelry are in the room or have attended similar gatherings in recent years. Many of them are CEOS or run NGOs. It’s a small but powerful club. I’m just healing crystals. I don’t deal in gold and diamonds or make any jewelry. They welcome me into their midst anyway. I introduce myself to everyone. Julie of Moonrise Crystals is now on the radar.
My second conference dedicated to ethical sourcing for precious metals and gems. Once again, I was the only person there from the healing crystal industry. There was a talk by the US State Department which explained the legal obligations and ethical problems involved in exporting various gemstones. Did you know that Lapis Lazuli helped fund the Taliban? I suspected, but I didn’t know for sure. Now that I know more, I took down my listing for Lapis Lazuli.
A year later, I find myself in Tucson again. This time I’m at ease. I spent my first day slowly and carefully sourcing healing stones for my store. I spent the evening working on my book. I’ve been writing itself in my head and heart, now it’s finally being poured onto paper. I’ve got 11 pages so far. It’s a start. I’m coming more and more into alignment with my true self. There’s a taste of destiny in the air and I like it.
I went to the show with two distinct lists. The first was a straightforward inventory of crystals that need to be restocked. My second list was more complicated. It was a list of stones whose sourcing I wanted to improve. I had no idea where to go or even if I could improve the sourcing, but I wanted to try. Ethical sourcing is not simple or quick. It’s a long-term commitment to incremental improvement. But as one ethical mine owner reminded me, “the tortoise wins the race.”
At the beginning of the year, I happily made big plans. I was dreaming into trips to Madagascar, India, Peru, and Brazil. I already had bought tickets for ethical sourcing conferences. I began writing a book. The future looked bright. Covid-19 disrupted everything. Then Black Lives Matter altered my connection to crystal energy. I started asking some new questions.
Artisanal and small scale miners excavate and polish many of the most popular and beloved healing crystals sold on the market. But do the miners know where their crystals go? This video is a first step towards building a new kind of supply chain, transparent to miners and customers alike. In this workshop, you can watch me introduce Malawi female miners in East Africa to the healing crystal market in the USA.
During Covid the world was topsy-turvy, and that presented a unique opportunity for me. It gave me the freedom to truly think outside-of-the-box. I reached out to one of the top coral reef experts in the world. Over a glass of wine, he pointed out I treat ethical crystal sourcing like someone with a humanities degree. He proposed that I tackle the subject more scientifically. Challenge accepted.