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Trump EO would allow the sale of conflict minerals

CongoThe Trump administration has prepared a draft Executive Order that will suspend the requirement that US firms need to carry out due diligence to ensure that the products they sell do not contain conflict minerals, including gold, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In what reads like a story from the farcical newspaper The Onion, the draft claims the obligation to prove that no conflict minerals are in a company’s supply stream “caused harm to some parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” (Who? Congolese warlords profiting from the sale of conflict minerals?)

We have worked with both Democrats and Republicans on a variety of human rights issues. In over two decades of these efforts we have found that, when it comes to human rights concerns, both sides of the aisle have traditionally found common ground and a shared willingness to take a stand. We are at a loss to understand how the White House can justify this proposed action that, if signed by the President, would undercut a powerful tool to help the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and undermine efforts to end the trade in conflict minerals.

America: A country of immigrants

album1For many years we have stood up to dictatorships and oppressors throughout the world. From Angola to Zimbabwe, the Taliban to the Tatmadaw. For our work, we encountered obstacles and navigated threats to our personal safety, yet remained steadfast in the belief that wrongs need to be righted at any cost, lest we lose what we treasure most. But in over two decades of direct engagement we never once thought we’d be taking on a similar struggle here in our own country, the United States of America. Now we stand, a nation founded and built by immigrants, on the precipice of a cliff where the values we hold most dear and long considered vital to who we are as Americans, are threatened.

In 1910, the founder of our company, Franz Anton Lebr left his home in Baroun, Bohemia, bound for America in the steerage class of the SS George Washington. He apprenticed for a jewelry maker in Chicago and, in 1921, opened his own jewelry business that still continues today. This story is not unique for it has been repeated thousands of times, as each new generation of immigrants from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, representing countless religions and traditions, have added to the fiber that comprises these United States. That is, until this week, when President Trump, forbade entry to tens of thousands of individuals and families from Muslim-majority countries.

Simply put, to turn away an entire class of human beings, many of whom are refugees fleeing violence, is mean-spirited. It is unacceptable. It is irresponsible. It is also un-American.

At Leber Jeweler Inc, we stand firmly opposed to the travel ban, immigration and refugee freeze implemented by the President. We condemn his actions as harmful to both our country and to the world. We beseech all who are not citizens of the United States, especially those in and from the Muslim world, to know and understand President Trump does not speak for all Americans.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we will continue our work on behalf of human rights and the environment, in defense of kindness and humanity, in a quest for a better country and world. We know this struggle is never ending, but it is the duty of every person and of every company to commit to this greater cause. We may not accomplish this immense task in our lifetime. But as long as we do not surrender, as long as we do not succumb to the darkness that is pervading the world, spread by those who thrive on hatred, distrust, and anger, we will not lose.

Extended Holiday Hours

LJIXmasStarting December 14th, we have extended hours for the holiday season!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 12pm to 6pm, Thursday 12pm to 7pm, and Saturday 11am to 5pm.

On Saturday, December 24th we will be open from 11am until 2pm. We will be closed on December 25th and 26th, reopening on Tuesday, December 27th.

We will be closed from Saturday, December 31st through Thursday, January 5th.

December’s Birthstone: Blue Zircon

12-12r12916petuniabluezirconlrDecember is here, which means winter is close at hand. Nothing captures the color of this season quite like the steely blue sparkle of blue zircon. Possessing a refractive index higher than even diamond, this exquisite gemstone is perfect in a necklace, earrings, or a ring.

Our Petunia is one great example. Available in white gold, yellow gold, or platinum, this simple graceful necklace is a perfect compliment to this lovely gemstone.

A thought for the future

“All who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.”
― Albert Camus, The Plague

 

US and the Burma gem ban

wbezI was a guest on WBEZ’s Worldview, with Jerome McDonnell, to talk about the implications of President Obama’s announcement he will be ending the sanctions on Burma and to offer my critique on the decision. You can listen to the full segment here.

Leber Jeweler Inc statement on ending Burma sanctions

At Leber Jeweler Inc, we are greatly disappointed by President Obama’s announcement that he will end all sanctions on Burma (aka Myanmar), including the ban on the importation of Burmese ruby and jadeite. These gemstones continue to fuel ongoing conflict in places like the Burmese state of Kachin, financially reward many individuals who have long fought against democracy in favor of military rule, and allow the exploitation of innocent men, women, and children, including the victims of Burma’s rampant human trafficking.

If our country is to lay claim to being a champion of human rights, it must never falter in this pledge. With the premature ending of the sanctions on Burmese ruby and jadeite, first enacted by the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, the United States has failed in this regard. Many large US corporations, who have lobbied for years to be allowed free and unfettered access to Burma, view this country in starkly economic terms and are salivating at the self-enriching monetary opportunities that lay in store for them. Burma has been described as a country rich in natural resources with abundant low wage labor. With the ending of sanctions along with the elimination of corporate reporting requirements, one can safely assume these same resources will be plundered and the labor exploited by corporations soon free to partner with individuals and entities who are currently identified on the SDN (Specially Designated Individuals) list and recognized by the US government as human rights abusers, narco-terrorists, and criminals.

We strongly encourage Congress to work in cooperation with civil society groups to draft strict standards that support the National League for Democracy-led efforts to reform and mainstream Burma’s extractives sector and to bring it under good governance standards, lest the dire conditions that inspired the sanctions continue unchecked. It is our recommendation that such standards be in place and enforced before imports begin. We have said in the past that, until the day when Burma’s vast yet finite gemstone resources truly benefit the average person in Burma, they should stay safely in the ground. At Leber Jeweler Inc, we stand firm in this belief. Very soon, Burmese ruby and jadeite will again enter the US and be offered for sale in jewelry stores across America. While it may become legal, it does not make it ethical.

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Just Married!

wedding-picThe Big Day was in Ireland. Peter & Tina, happy newlyweds. Congratulations you two! We’re thrilled that Earthwise Jewelry rings could play a part in your picture perfect day. We wish you all the best with your future lives together.

August’s Birthstone: Peridot

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If you had to pick a color that perfectly captures the late summer grass, peridot green would be that color. A citrus green with overtones of yellow, it’s a great stone to commemorate a birthday, anniversary, or just about any special occasion in August.

Shown here in our Stacks ring, it’s a modern take on the seminal “Mother’s ring.”

Engagement on a foggy day

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San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge makes a delightful background for Rachel and Laura’s engagement photo. Congratulations you two! We’re thrilled the Earthwise Jewelry custom-designed ring was a hit and we’re honored to be a small part of the big proposal.

Plus, compliments to the errant old fisherman you found hanging out by the waterfront to take this great photo. He certainly has an eye for composition.