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Burma Sanctions Renewed

ObamaSuuKyiOn Thursday, President Obama renewed US sanctions against Burma, citing “ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas, particularly in Rakhine State, and the continued role of the military in the country’s political and economic activities,” in his letter to Congress.

As we’ve mentioned time and time again, Burma’s military maintains an active role in that country’s gem sector. At present, it is still illegal to import ruby or jade from Burma into the United States, despite the fact a number of US jewelers continue to sell these now-banned gems.

Until the human rights abuses cease and the revenue from the gemstone resources truly benefits the people of Burma, we hope the US gem sanctions we helped implement remain in place.

Going Green!

SamAngelaAquaRingWe really enjoy when clients send us photos of their new Earthwise Jewelry rings! This one is of a custom vintage inspired aquamarine ring we designed for Sam & Angela. It seems Sam proposed on their trip to Florida and Angela said “Yes!” They emailed us this shot of the engagement ring when they were at the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.

Congratulations you two!!!

Happy Earth Day!

IL, Prairie“We shall never achieve harmony with the land, anymore than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.”  -Aldo Leopold

New From Our Workshop – Oblio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring is here and wedding season is upon us. One of our newest ring sets is a matched pair of Oblio diamond wedding bands. A lifetime commitment deserves the best. Perfect for his & his, hers & hers, or his & hers. They all work.

Sometimes Simplicity is Best

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”
― Pete Seeger

One of our first Earthwise Jewelry® designs, Emma. Paired with the Mobius wedding band. Available in 18k, platinum, or palladium.

EPA to Consider Blocking Massive Alaska Gold Mine

BristolBayWell here’s good news. The EPA will announce plans today to examine whether they should use their authority outlined in the Clean Water Act to block the Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska. As we’ve talked about before, if this mining project were to proceed it would be the world’s largest open pit mine and would imperil vital natural resources, including salmon spawning grounds. While no decision has been made, it will at the very least delay the project several months since the US Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a federal discharge permit, which is something Northern Dynasty would need in order to dump waste into Bristol Bay as they plan.

Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act was created to allow the EPA Administrator to prohibit, withdraw, deny or restrict the discharge of dredged or fill materials into the waters of the United States if such discharge “will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.” Section 404(c) has been used 13 times; 11 of these have been by Republican administrations.

While environmentalists, local communities in Alaska, as well as both the fishing and tourism industries are working to block this mine (as are all of us at Leber Jeweler) the group behind this proposed mining project, Northern Dynasty Minerals, has partners like Resourceful Earth, a project of the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, who in July urged their supporters to send form letters against the EPA after this government organization released a study that declared Pebble mine to be be “potentially devastating.” The Koch brother’s lobbying group feels stopping this environmentally damaging mine “sets a dangerous precedent” since it would undermine big mining companies’ efforts to exploit our planet’s resources for their own personal profit.


Brian Leber on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview

WBEZThis afternoon I was interviewed by Jerome McDonnell on WBEZ’s Worldview. Our discussion focused on issues pertaining to the extractive industries with particular mention of the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska, but touched on a variety of topics ranging from trade agreements to cats!

Click here to listen to the interview in full.

We ♥ Hearts

LEBER21829E-1Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and what says “I love you” more than actually saying “I love you?” Well, nothing actually. But this ruby and diamond heart necklace is a close second!

Available in recycled 18k white gold, 18k gold or platinum, and pavé set with Canadian diamonds framing a beautiful fair trade (and non-Burmese!) ruby.

Also available with a blue sapphire or plain, it lasts longer than any bouquet of flowers.

The Cost of Platinum Mining

strikeWe use recycled platinum, in large part, due to our long-standing commitment to reduce the effects of mining on the environment. Large-scale commercial mining devastates landscapes, displaces people, and can threaten our water supply. But this week, events in South Africa provide one more reason to be concerned about newly mined platinum.

Work has stopped at some of the world’s biggest platinum mines, as thousands of South African miners have gone on strike demanding a raise in pay. The miner’s union says that the miners, most of whom work deep underground in dangerous conditions, are demanding a “living wage,” which is more than double their current rate of pay. The mining companies say they cannot afford the pay increases because of high costs involved in mining this precious metal, of which South Africa supplies approximately 80% of the world’s reserves.

Let’s hope this strike remains peaceful on both sides. A new law has been passed that has made it illegal to carry dangerous weapons at public gatherings and protests. During the Marikana unrest in 2012 (the last time miners went on strike) police opened fire on miners carrying such weapons, alleging they were first threatened. Thirty-four miners were killed.

While platinum is regularly used in jewelry, its main end user is actually the auto industry.




Garnet Earrings…Perfect for January

GarnetDropsAny woman can wear garnet earrings. She doesn’t need to be born in the month of January, even though garnet is often considered the birthstone for this month. For someone looking for a great way to mark a special birthday (or for anyone who just likes the color) we’ve made up this great pair of garnet drop earrings.

The two 5mm round fair trade garnets are set in bezels that drop from lever backs. We also make this design in a whole range of colors too. Name your favorite color (or birth month) and we’ll have a great option for you.

Simple enough to wear everyday. For more information click here.