While the US has removed most sanctions against this SE Asian nation, the ban on the importation of Burmese ruby and jade remains. This, along with a prohibition on investment with the military in addition to targeted sanctions against a few specific individuals is the core of the punitive measures kept in place my the United States.
There’s no doubt business interests want to see sanctions lifted, despite the fact little has changed in Burma’s gem sector since the ban was first implemented in 2008. Of course, most “business interests” care naught for things like human rights. As long as there’s profit, they’ll turn a blind eye. So while entities like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the United States Council for International Business lobby for the ban to be removed, we, along with a number of human rights organizations, feel it is still necessary since it’s simply wrong to buy or sell any product that results in the suffering of people, animals or the planet. While we know this belief means we shouldn’t be expecting an invitation to join the US Chamber of Commerce any time soon, I’d much rather sleep at night with a good conscience.
Scot Marciel, the new US ambassador to Myanmar, said at his confirmation hearing in November 2015 that he would not recommend any dramatic change to the sanctions program. This is good news. However, if rumors we hear are true, Hillary Clinton is already laying the ground work to end the sanctions if she’s elected President, claiming it as her first foreign policy victory.
I recognize rumors are just that but, if it holds true and a candidate of either party has decided a year in advance that they’re willing to throw a human rights issue under the bus to claim “victory” in the foreign policy column, that’s just appalling.
Maybe that’s how politics is played in the US these days. If so, no wonder our country has become so divided and citizens so discouraged by many of our elected leaders. Let’s just hope the rumors are untrue or that someone with some sense sees that it’s unabashedly wrong.
Let’s just hope.
Our Earthwise Jewelry® rolling wedding bands. Custom made just for you and available in a variety of widths and finishes in addition to plain or flush set with conflict-free Canadian diamonds or Fair Trade colored gemstones.
The Ma Su Su Three-Stone ring is shown here with a 3/4 carat blue sapphire in the center, but works great with any fair-trade colored gemstone or one of our conflict-free Canadian diamonds. We hand-make each ring here in our Chicago workshop so this design is adaptable to a wide range of gemstone sizes and can be customized in a myriad of ways.
We were leaders in helping to expose the myriad of issues with Burma’s gem trade, both in the US and internationally. Funding military abuses against civilians, feeding into a shadow economy control by drug empires, and fueling violent conflicts that led this Southeast Asian country into a free fall, the gem trade in Burma has long been a sector firmly in the grip of the military elite and drug lords.
Now a report by human rights group Global Witness takes a new look at Burma’s lucrative jade trade and find things haven’t changed from the dark days a decade ago. Described as what “may well be the biggest natural resource heist in modern history,” between 50 and 80 percent of Burma’s gem resource is smuggled directly to China, lining the pockets of senior members of Burma’s military as well as that of the country’s largest and best-financed rebel army, the United Wa State Army.
Most of Burma’s jade, which is part of a $31 billion industry, is mined in Hpakant, Kachin State, an area that is still the home to an ongoing civil war that has killed thousands and left 100,000 people displaced. Yet amidst this conflict, the gem trade thrives. Sadly, in the wake of the US decision to relax many of the sanctions against Burma, US companies raced in to reap their share. According to the Global Witness Report, a major US soft drink manufacturer has partnered with a jade trade-linked firm tied to the military and a US-based heavy equipment manufacturer has alleged ties to an internationally wanted drug lord.
For what it’s worth, one of the last remaining US sanctions still in force against Burma is directed against this country’s ruby and jade trade. Our advocacy in Washington DC helped get this legislation banning Burmese gems introduced, our testimony to Congress helped get this law passed, and we have and will remain persistent in our efforts to ensure that the US does not import Burmese ruby and jade until the day when those rare and finite resources truly benefit the people of Burma.
Based on the Global Witness report and what we’ve personally seen over the past seventeen years of working tirelessly on the Burma issue, it may be a long time before that day comes.
Every Earthwise Jewelry® piece is made here in Chicago in our workshop. Most companies can’t make that sort of claim. In the world of jewelry, the pride of craft has fallen by the wayside as every company seems focused on being the biggest not the best. So they shift their production “somewhere else.”
There’s too much outsourcing in the world. Big companies main focus is on making products as cheaply as possible because to them, profit eclipses pride in craft. So instead they spend their money on marketing an image rather than on simply paying skilled craftspeople to construct things that are well-made.
Perhaps this is an old-fashioned belief in this age of free trade and globalization. But as a business that has made jewelry in Chicago since 1921, every company president from my grandfather on down to me has known how to make jewelry with their own hands. How many jewelry CEOs can make that claim?
Pink gold (aka “rose gold”) is becoming quite popular lately. The colored gold brings a touch of warmth and vintage feel to any ring. Combined with a design that echoes the early 20th century like this custom Earthwise Jewelry Canadian diamond engagement ring, we think this metal really sings.
At Leber Jeweler, we make all our pieces here in our Chicago workshop especially for each client we serve. If you want any of our designs in rose gold, just ask!
Gold mining. That’s to blame. In this case, a contractor, working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inadvertently let loose 3 million gallons of heavy metal-filled waste water that has turned the Animas River in Southern Colorado orange.
The Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, is one of a large number of abandoned small mines in the Upper Animas Basin that has long lain dormant after years of being used to abuse the earth to procure gold. Scientists say it’s the largest untreated mine drainage in the state. So work was necessary to clean up the mess. Mining companies and free-spirited miners have a long history of leaving disasters-in-waiting when their mining projects cease to be profitable. So it’s up to someone else to clean up their messes.
One water test from the spill showed lead levels 12,000 times greater than normal. The wastewater also contained extremely high levels of arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and mercury. All are byproducts of gold mining.
According to our friends as Earthworks, there are roughly 500,000 similar mines in need of clean up.
Like I said, it’s not the fault of the contractor or the EPA, who have wanted to designate the area around Gold King Mine a Superfund site for clean up. Blame it on man’s endless thirst to mine for gold.
At Leber Jeweler Inc, we exclusively use 100% recycled gold in our Earthwise Jewelry. This stems the need for new hard rock mining to procure fresh metal. Enough damage has been done to the earth. Let’s use the gold we have, recycle it when we’re through and not repeat the errors of the past. Because if gold mining continues, the Gold King Mine spill will just be a precursor to many disasters yet to come.
One of our most popular designs is the Ma Su Su engagement ring. A simple, elegant setting that lays close to the finger. A great ring for someone with a more active lifestyle. Works wonderfully with either a Canadian diamond or a fair trade colored gemstone as the center stone.
When worn together with the Ma Su Su Pavé wedding band, you can be stylish and socially responsible in one felled swoop.