There are two words that Columbia Gem House is defined by, and they’re something we take seriously: fair trade. Since 2001, we’ve been the lead in how we source our gemstones. We trace the origins and production methods in both mining and cutting gemstones. We consider the people who produce our gemstones to be an important part of our business, and our workers are our top priority. This includes all workers possible in the process, overseas or not: From the cutting workshops all the way to the miners who deal with the gems at the very beginning. It’s a hard job, but we’re not complaining. After all, every worker in the process –whether overseas or in the US—should be treated with the respect they deserve.
First, we work to identify all the workers in each stage of the supply chain. Those are the miners, gemstone cutters and exporters. Then, we make sure individuals are treated fairly, whether directly or through our partners. No matter the country, social status, gender, or ethnicity. That, we believe, is a true fair deal.
We condemn child labor and work hard to assure work environments are safe and healthy. After all, the workplace, no matter where in the world, should be as safe as it can be. And while mines are not guaranteed to be the safest working spaces, we make sure we work with ones that hold safety as a main priority. We work directly or through partners to provide our workers benefits like offering bonuses, promotions, health insurance. As an example, the workers at our Chinese cutting workshop are provided with room and boarding, food allowance, paid vacation, overtime pay, insurance, and annual bonuses.
One of the biggest concerns we have for our workers in our gem cutting facilities is silicosis. Silicosis is a lung disease that involves silica scarring the lung tissue, making it hard for those with it to breathe. In many cases silicosis is lethal, even if treated. We and our partners take extra care in managing the amounts of silica dust produced when cutting gemstones so that workers are not exposed to the deadly disease. As a result, our gem cutting workshops have some of the best air quality in the industry.
Columbia Gem house has also worked hard with our Malawi partners to support community projects near the areas of the Nyala ruby and sapphire mine. We have helped to build and staff the local primary school, with over 900 students now in attendance. We also helped fund and build teacher housing, wells, and made improvements to the local clinic. We even established a tree nursery, which will help replant the forests that once covered the area surrounding the mine and community. Unfortunately, our Malawian partners have lost the government lease to mine these gems, but we both are still proud of what we were able to do for the community.
What we remember here at Columbia Gem House is that all of our workers are human, no matter what. And having the opportunity to live a healthy and comfortable life, as well as having a safe work environment is essential to doing good work. More than that, we pride ourselves in working hard to assure this for all the individuals along our supply chain.
And it’s thanks to buyers like you for supporting these efforts to take care of our workers and the environment. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to continue to support families at home and overseas and stay true to our goals of this fair-trade.