Confronting the Dark Side of the Healing Stone Industry
Most of us buy healing crystals because we want Peace, Love, and Healing.
We want to be filled with LIGHT and we try to avoid dwelling on the Darker aspects of life. When it comes to the environmental and social impacts of the mining industry, frankly, most of us have never thought about it.
We imagine that our crystals come straight to us from Mother Earth and that they were handled with reverence and care every step of their journey. We don't think about child labor, poisoned rivers, or unscrupulous sellers. We "trust our sources" and never pause to question whether or not we should. We blissfully divide the world into "good and evil" and shy away from uncomfortable shades of gray.
Maybe we've heard of Blood Diamonds and Conflict-Free Diamonds. But how many people wonder if the same moral questions apply to our healing stones?
Let's be honest - we generally don't think about it.
Instead, we buy whatever looks pretty. Whatever feels powerful. Whatever we can afford. Then we take it home and use sunlight, water, sage, and reiki to "cleanse the energy" and call it good.
This is true for casual consumers as well as most of the leaders, teachers, healers and business owners in the healing stone industry. It's the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
Why can't we just buy "Clean" Crystals?
Beyond a few fine gemstones, like Conflict-Free Diamonds, there is no equivalent to the Fair Trade or Organic seals which help shop owners and consumers buy wisely. In fact, as a whole the gemstone and mineral industry is remarkably vague about stone origins and mining conditions. Occasionally stones will be labeled with a country-of-origin, only rarely is the actual mine mentioned. Without detailed independent research it is impossible to know if that mine/country follows good practices. Consider for a moment a few questions and you'll soon see the inherent difficulty of conscious-sourcing.
For example, if you hear a piece of Jade is from "Burma" does that sound exotic and desirable? Or do you know that Burma was renamed Myanmar almost 30 years ago, has been embroiled in civil wars for decades and that its mining industry has been cited for horrendous human-rights violations? Then why is it still called "Burma Jade"? Could it be because Burma Jade sells better than Myanmar Jade?
If you hear that an Agate is from Botswana do you imagine a third-world African country with lax environmental laws? Or do you know that Botswana is one of the few nations with strong green-mining practices?
If a stone is from "Russia" where exactly is that in a nation that covers 6.6 million square miles?
If a polished healing stone was "made in China" that only means it was polished there. The raw stone material could have been mined in China, in Mozambique, in the United States or literally anywhere else. To determine the country-of-origin, a list of regions where that stone is naturally found must be drawn up and specimens compared until you find something that "looks similar". A mineral like Rhodonite looks different when found in Russia vs Peru vs Madagascar. High-quality Clear Quartz looks the same everywhere.
Many crystal sellers claim to know where their crystals are from. Does that mean they know what mine the stones came from? Or just the country-of-origin? Or perhaps they only know where the polishing factory is located? Did they buy from a wholeseller that bought directly from the polishing factory? Or was the stone passed from wholeseller to wholeseller numerous times before finding its way to the final customer's hand?
Beyond the difficulty of tracking the Earth to Pocket movements of any stone, there are also moral questions to consider. For example, if a healing crystal, like Malachite or Turquoise, is a byproduct of a big industrial copper-pit mine with a poor environmental record, is it okay to buy the healing stone because "the mine would exist anyway"'? Is there a "right" answer? Can the answer evolve over time?
It is so much easier to say the stones come from Mother Earth and we "trust our sources"!
There are 3 Options for Conscious-Sourcing
Literally own the mine and be a highly-conscious person.
Trust your sources, cross your fingers and ignore anything uncomfortable.
Do detailed research on geology and mineralogy, the mining and lapidary practices in each region, and the current socio-economic-political situation. Wrestle with ambiguous moral questions.
Moonrise Crystals' owner chooses to pursue this third option. A tremendous amount of time and energy is spent on tracing stones Earth to Pocket and establishing business relationships with mines who conduct their operations with integrity and sensitivity. This is a lifetime work. This is a labor-of-love that goes beyond normal business. But if not me, then who? If not now, then when?
Currently the Moonrise Crystals website includes information about the country-of-origin for the stones sold here, but rarely the actual mine. One of the goals in 2019 is to update the information for each type of stone and increase transparency. However, the ultimate goal of Earth to Pocket goes beyond Moonrise Crystals. The ultimate goal is to help consumers - at all levels of experience and shopping at any healing crystal store - be able to make better choices.
Healing crystals SHOULD be clean and they CAN be clean. But the only way to make that happen is to have frank conversations about sourcing and to use our money in ways that support our values.
As the owner of Moonrise Crystals, I love healing crystals and I believe in Love, Peace and Healing. That's why I'm willing to explore and speak up about the shadow side of the mining and healing stone industry. That's why Moonrise Crystals wants you to have healing stones that truly are consciously-sourced.