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“I believe in the power of solidarity.”

RafaelOn March 18, 2015, our friend Rafael Marques de Morais accepted The Voice of Free Expression journalism award in London. Less than one week later, he faced trial in Angola for speaking the truth.

Rafael has long been the voice of artisanal miners in Angola who have suffered abuses, violence, and killings at the hands of Angola’s military and a private security firm hired by diamond mining interests. For his groundbreaking work, “Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola,” he is now being charged with libel against senior generals, all of whom are also shareholders in a diamond mining company.

When he spoke last week at the awards ceremony he said, “I believe in the power of solidarity. I have experienced troubles of my own. It has been the solidarity of others that has helped to strengthen my courage and resolve to continue my journey.”

Now is the time for all those who believe in the right to free speech and freedom of the press to use their voice in defense of Rafael.

Spring is Here!

03.15R13583AquaDiaEtrnt00006MR“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” -Mark Twain

The snow is finally gone and the grass is turning from brown to green. For us Midwesterners, this is a reason to rejoice. So why not treat yourself to something to celebrate?

Maybe it’s a new piece of jewelry, like this Earthwise Jewelry® Collection 18k white gold aquamarine and diamond eternity band, or maybe it’s just a long walk in the park on a sunny day. Either way, you’ve earned it. You survived another winter.

Burmese gem trade also bad for the environment

BurmaprotestIt’s well documented that gemstones from Burma are fueling violent conflict in Kachin state and funding a variety of questionable entities. In addition to these reports from Kachin, hundreds of residents in Mogok, the main ruby producing area in Burma, are protesting plans by the Mogok Gems Traders Association to build a new headquarters and possibly a gemstone market, museum and restaurants, on a scenic lake in the town’s center.

“This lake is a famous landmark of our city and the public area is also a recreation area for residents. If buildings will be built around the lake, the beauty of city will be ruined and the environment will be destroyed.”

Monks, environmental groups, religious organizations and environmental groups have all joined the protest, which was launched on February 21.

Think Green

1.61TsavThe world may be all snowy white but, believe it or not, Spring is just around the corner. Really.

With that in mind, a little dose of green can help brighten up your winter blahs. This particular green is a stunning 1.61ct oval tsavorite from southeast Kenya.

Tsavorite, a rare member of the garnet family, is one of our favorite gemstones. The color is a nicer green than 99% of any emerald you’ll find. The sourcing is more responsible. And the price is nice too. We have fine quality tsavorites starting for under $300. Perfect for setting in any one of our many Earthwise Jewelry® settings!

There’s Gold in Them Thar Stars

supernovaWe’ve had several people ask where our gold comes from. Naturally, we use 100% recycled gold, but where does it come from at the very beginning?

The answer is straight up. (So to speak.) While every element that makes up our world came from space, gold is a little different. Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star as part of the body’s normal fusion process. Instead, it comes from something far more explosive.

Scientists discovered that during the merger of two neutron stars (the dead cores of stars that had supernovaed) a microsecond gamma ray burst was generated that ejected gold. Lots and lots of it. According to Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “We estimate that the amount of gold produced and ejected during the merger of the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 moon masses – quite a lot of bling!”

Fortunately, this event occurred at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, which is far enough that it should discourage all those big mining companies from trying to find a way to exploit one more resource!

At Leber Jeweler, we trace every product we sell back to the source. Even when it’s from the far reaches of the universe.


Brighten Up Your January

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis month’s birthstone, garnet, comes in a range of colors but the burnt reddish-brown is probably the one most familiar hue.

This particular example came from a project in Mozambique, and we also have a wide range of rare collector garnets that are from the Czech Republic. (Formerly Bohemia.) The setting, shown here in 18k yellow gold, is our Ivy.

In addition to the metal shown, we also offer the piece in platinum, palladium, and white gold.

On est tous Charlie

TOPSHOTS-FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-DEMO“If a large enough group of someone is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization.” -New York Times columnist Ross Douthat

From Our Workbench- Diamond Halo

Pt1.28BezDiaEngDSC_0105LRSimply graceful. A 100% conflict-free Canadian diamond surrounded by a sparkling halo of more Canadian diamonds and set in a recycled platinum handcrafted setting made here in our Chicago workshop.

She’s sure to say “I do!”

The Voice of a Small-Scale Miner

ChikomeniWe’ve long worked with small-scale gem mining projects that help support Malawi. In fact, if you asked me to name the poster child for best practices in this sector, I’d point to my friend’s years of tireless leadership effort in this African nation’s gem mining sector.

The miners who are the first rung of the global supply chain frequently lack the opportunity to express their concerns. As is often the case, it is the big corporations, government officials, and other entities making autonomous policy decisions that directly affect the miners’ lives without any input from those most affected.

Chikomeni Manda is one of those miners and we wanted to offer a platform to share his thoughts and experiences of mining in Mzimba, in northern Malawi. In part:

“Small scale mining…offers a greater opportunity for direct and indirect job creation, especially in rural areas. At the micro level, revenues generated from these mining activities increases local purchasing power as well as the demand for local products. Therefore mining gives hope for rural growth and economic empowerment.”

We share this view and will continue our work both in Washington DC as well as internationally to help miners like Chikomeni have a voice in what should be a democratic process related to how natural resources like gemstones can best benefit a country’s citizenry. We will also continue our decades long efforts working to create and support gemstone social responsibility standards that are equitable and beneficial to all.

December’s Birthstone- Blue Zircon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe love blue zircon. It’s pretty. It sparkles more than diamond. And it’s very affordable for a natural gemstone.

While we will gladly set this month’s birthstone in any of our Earthwise Jewelry settings, we feel that our Ursula ring, offset with Canadian diamonds, is a great setting for this steely blue fair trade gem.

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