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Remembering an Activist

WVThis post isn’t about jewelry. It’s about remembering the life of an ordinary citizen who helped change so very much. Most people have never heard of James “Jimmy” Weekley, of Blair, West Virginia, who died last week at the age of 74. But Mr. Weekley was the kind of activist we admire most.

Mr. Weekley was one of the lead plantiffs in the first major court case to challenge mountaintop removal mining. He was one of a small handful of dedicated citizens who put a lot on the line to try to take a stand against Big Mining in an effort to protect their community and the land. 

A 1998 story from the West Virginia Gazette sums things up nicely when it describes Mr. Weekley taking two coal mining executives on a tour of the area around his home.

At times, the group walked along the creek in areas Arch Coal plans to bury under a valley fill.

“Look around you, sir,” Weekley said. “Look at how beautiful it is.”

Just a few hundred feet up the hollow from Weekley’s house, his 84-year-old mother, Sylvia, sat on the porch of her own home. “This is her homeplace,” Weekley said. “I was born here.”

“When you come in here and do this, all I’m going to have left are memories,” Weekley said. “Money can’t buy my memories. Look at all the species of trees and plants that are going to be destroyed. Why? Why? Why?”

Gardner said, “The reason, Mr. Weekley, is that we have a resource that is valuable and that the market wants. That is coal.”

Rest in peace Mr. Weekley. You made a difference.


What Is The Right Thing To Do?

WendellBerry“We do not have a right to ask if what we do will succeed or not, the only question we have a right to ask is what is the right thing to do. ” – Wendell Berry

Happy birthday Mr. Berry!

From Our Workbench- Ivy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve always liked our classic Ivy. Inspired by nature with an organically shaped shank with vine-like details, we also offer a version with small Canadian diamonds set on the sides to make this ring extra special.

Perfect for a diamond or any colored stone you wish. Perhaps something green like this beautiful peridot to celebrate summer?

Available in white gold, yellow gold, platinum or palladium.

Mining Company Sues to Protect their Right to Despoil Nature

salmonThe US Environmental Protection Agency has announced proposed restrictions that would essentially block a potentially damaging gold and copper mine in Alaska. In what sounds like a story from The Onion, Pebble Limited Partnership, along with the state of Alaska, are now suing the EPA.

According to EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran, “mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems. Bristol Bay’s exceptional fisheries deserve exceptional protection.”

But that hasn’t deterred the company behind this proposed mine which, if allowed to proceed, would be the largest open pit ever built in North America, reaching a depth that rivals that of the Grand Canyon at nearly a mile. Based on conservative standards, mining would mean the loss of at least 5 miles of streams with documented salmon or loss of 1,100 or more acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds that connect to salmon-bearing streams or tributaries of those streams.

And that’s a best case scenario assuming there won’t be an accident.

We’ll see how this plays out in court. Right now, opposition to the mine is strong but the company behind the project sees a significant profit to be made from this venture, so they plan to fight. Beginning Monday, the EPA will begin taking public comment regarding their proposal. Rest assured, we’ll be continuing our efforts in support of the EPA measure.

Quote of the Day

Tomlin“I said “Somebody should do something about that.” Then I realized I am somebody.” ― Lily Tomlin

Conflict Diamonds Appearing in the Marketplace

LRADespite the claims by the Kimberley Process to have put an end to conflict diamonds, new evidence has surfaced showing that banned gems from Central African Republic are entering the diamond supply chain. Disguised as “unknown origin” diamonds, these conflict stones are very likely appearing in jewelry stores across America.

The Central African Republic has been experiencing an uptick in violence in recent months. Most recently, Ugandan forces clashed with fighters from Seleka, a mainly Muslim rebel force, as part of the ongoing campaign against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Diamonds continue to play a part in too many conflicts. At Leber Jeweler, we remain committed to offering conflict-free diamonds from Canada until such time as diamonds can truly benefit the people of the African continent and not fuel bloodshed.

From Our Workbench – Tsavorite Ma Su Su

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring is finally here! Or is this summer? Here in Chicago we seem to go right from snowdrifts to heat waves in about 36 hours. But in celebration of nature (finally) turning green we have this stunning tsavorite set in our Ma Su Su setting.

We love tsavorite here at Leber Jeweler. More socially responsible than emerald. (We source ours through a small project in Kenya.) Brighter and richer than all but the most premium emeralds too. (And a lot less expensive than those!) We offer this ring in white gold, yellow gold, platinum or palladium.

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