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Ethically Sourced Crystals | Why we do it

INTRODUCTION

There is one thing saying you source ethically and substantially but is that really for every mined and crafted mineral? Do the prices seem a little too cheap? How can you tell? What your retailer should be telling you...

CRYSTALS AND PRICING

Many people ask us this question. Why are some of your crystals low priced? How is this ethical? How do you know they are genuine? It depends on how easily attained the minerals are, weight, size and quality.

Crystals are sold in bulk; this is how the suppliers will get their money by selling Kilograms worth of goods to the wholesaler or retailer. But not individually. This permits for Tumbles, Roughs, Polished shapes, Clusters and sometimes Jewellery. Does your retailer buy through a chain of suppliers? This will have a significant impact on costs. 

We have been researching the market for years now, and the longer the chain, the more expensive it will become by the time it gets to you or your retailer. Fortunate for us, after many years of research and relationship building, we have managed to source our crystals directly. This is WHY ours are at a lower price range. We do not feel the need to match other retailers or make excessive profits from more minor items. Our unique and special items will have a large variety in costs, and we sell a lot of big pieces that can hit the thousands. Our prices are recommended to us from our sources, and we stick by this. On a very small occasion we do purchase from UK wholesalers but we know they have traceable and ethical policies in place.

SUPPLY CHAIN AND SAFETY

As mentioned above, what can a supply chain entail? For example:

  • Miners-Lapidary-Wholesaler-Wholesaler-Retailer
  • Miners-Wholesaler-Wholesaler-Retailer
  • Miners-Lapidary-Wholesaler-Retailer

Depending on each mineral, it can end up in a long, confusing chain, but upon discovery and price comparison, there can be items sold to wholesalers selling to other wholesalers. Mining these materials can be very dangerous and life-threatening. So long you can see conditions, ethical policies and license in place.

WHAT HAPPENS FIRST?

It is essential to legalise the area to be explored and study the future impacts that the new task will have on its surroundings. After the legalisation issued by the competent authorities, the mining and garment process begins. Studies from geologists and engineers must guide the process of opening the mining so that underground entry can safely occur for those who participate in the extraction process and for the residents of the region.

OUR SUPPLY CHAIN

  • TUMBLED STONES
    Our crystals are sourced worldwide but are all polished in South Africa. They are sorted and handled exceptionally well and directly sent to us. They comply and are regulated with the ETI Code. They have been in the industry since the 1970s polishing and mining; they are a small family run business who fairly pay their staff to work and source through America, Europe and the Far East and anywhere where suitable raw materials are to be located. Tumbling stones is the lowest-level work in the gem cutting and polishing industry. The majority of rocks are tumbled in bulk inside a drum.
  • ROUGH/NATURAL MATERIAL
    Are attainable worldwide. For us, it is mainly Brazil and Africa; Unless we state otherwise. Our new found suppliers for rough materials are a short chain of miners and supply to us. Almost all of the deposits they work with are mostly mined by hand. No machines. All sourced by small groups of individuals supported, paid, and worked closely with (no noise impact on the environment), and there are very rarely any trees that have to be removed, animals and natural habitats are taken into consideration. Conscious sourcing!
  • JEWELLERY
    We have one source of Jewellery. Our Jewellery maker is aware of the minerals supply chain and is hand-made in plated, safe material by their small team who are spiritually conscious. 

Here are the keywords we look out for:

  • Fair Trade
  • Low environmental impact, local governmental corruption/reputation (are the employers safe?)
  • No child labour
  • Machinery or hand mining can impact the above reasons
  • Working conditions / regulated ethical policy

CLEANING

If not, at least 80-90% of crystals go through a cleaning process when extracted from the earth. They are filthy and not sellable to the market. It includes; acid washing, oil washing or water wash. Cleaning is a large amount of time-consuming work. Much material can end up going to waste but will be sold and used ethically. More potent and higher quality polished or raw materials often are priced higher for one of these reasons. More time and effort will be involved in this process.

ENHANCED, TREATED OR MAN-MADE

A tiny percentage of our shop has had dyed, enhanced or human-made material. We will always state this and spread honesty! We have many customers who want to shop small up to large with us. We offer as much as we can in an ethical way. But are these types of minerals/human-made materials ethical too? Most of the time, it is not and will be massively produced in factories and unfair trade.

This is why we state the materials from the lapidary origins and treatments. It is essential to know how these are made or enhanced still. Unfortunately, a lot of treated minerals do come out of China. China holds a large amount of authentic and rare specimens in their country. (they have a lot of unique mines over there) We know there are still many sellers out there selling coated, dyed, or crushed resin materials but are stating it as natural. Why?

Because the most common treatment is crushing a natural mineral and mixing it with a resin material to make use of the natural stone, this is how some costs can be marketed very low and are still selling goods as authentic because it contains somewhat raw material. For this reason, no polishing or enhanced material we sell are of china origin.

Most commonly treated or human-made materials:

  • Goldstone, Green and Blue goldstone (Man-made)
  • Opalite is human-made but is mixed with natural materials.
  • Blue, Green, Andara obsidian (Glass)
  • Red Tiger Eye and Heated Citrine (Heat treated but from natural stone)
  • Aura Quartz (aqua, angel, cobalt, for example) either dip-dyed, painted or heated (some placed are resin-coated in the aura)
  • Agate is often dyed vibrant colours.
  • Quartz (crackle quartz, fire & ice) are heated or dyed natural Quartz.
  • Onyx (painted or enhanced agate to sell as black onyx)
  • Moldavite one of the rarest glass tektites. It is easy for countries to mimic, mould and this should flag alarms when sold very cheap!
  • Calcite is an enhanced natural mineral often acid washed to maintain colour and hardness as it is very soft and breakable.
  • Peacock ore- Is naturally a Bornite. However, it is enhanced in acid to bring out vibrant peacock colour.
  • Malachite is a beautiful mineral from Africa but is often painted or synthetic (the price should not be too low!)
  • Scolecite, a part of the Zeolite family, is a very soft and delicate mineral. Glue is often used to polish or tumble this material. (any very soft mineral that has been polished will most likely have glue to hold together the material

SUMMARY

Ethical sourcing is a vast and endless subject; it is not all about mining, so many other practices and origins come to play. Question the mineral's uncommonness at interest, and why is it this price? Is it natural, or has it been treated in some way? Check the quality and the sizing. Always check disclaimers and descriptions of the item!

We hope this blog can educate crystal and mineral lovers. Always ask questions and know your retailer is a trusted source.

Much Love and blessings to you all! x

Blog is written by 

Talia, Enter The Stargate Director

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