Tanzanite is an impressive violet-blue gem stone that occurs is only one place; Mererani, near Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania, the country after which it is named.
Increasingly popular with jewellers and shopping channels, Tanzanite has had a poor ethical reputation – with a history of exploitation, child labour, inadequate safety standards, accidents, brutalisation, poverty wages and excess profiteering by foreign companies. Hundreds of miners have died in recent years in a series of mine collapses and floods. The short film Gem Slaves documented the appalling conditions and use of child miners in 2006.
In a recent effort to improve its image and the ethical standards of the industry the Tanzanite One corporation, which owns some of the largest mines, set-up the Tanzanite Foundation, which aims to certify ethical Tanzanite stones. As a result conditions in many of the mines have undoubtedly improved, but a lack of openness makes it impossible to be sure just how ethical tanzanite mining now is.
If you’re considering buying tanzanite, or any other gemstone jewellery, it might be a good idea to check it’s origin and ethical credentials.
Knowing it’s been produced without exploitation will probably make it look even better.
Photo via Wikicommons
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