Though many of our stones are rough, we do – from time to time – have some of the rough polished into elegant, faceted gems. It’s one thing to source an ethical rough stone, and another to cut and polish it. Many factories employ children or force their workers to work long hours in unsafe, poorly lit facilities.
There are only two ways to make sure that gems are being cut ethically. The first is by an independent gem cutting professional in places such as the US, the UK, Israel, and Australia. At The Raw Stone, we prefer to have many of our stones cut in San Francisco, California by a local artisan.
The second way to make sure that gems are being cut in an ethical manner is to travel to a country where gems are commonly cut, to find a safe and well-kept facility employing only adults, and to sit there, watch, and wait for each and every gem to be cut and polished. Places where gems are commonly cut are Thailand, India, and China.
In November we traveled to Jaipur, India, and set out to find such a facility. Jaipur is the gem and gem-cutting capital of India, so we were confident that we would be able to find at least one fitting location. With little trouble, we were able to find such a place – a family business with several generations of gemstone cutters. Though the tools were a bit more rudimentary than those we were accustomed to seeing in San Francisco, they were obviously safe and functional for the workers. Noting the safety of the lapidary, we decided to have some rubies and sapphires cut there. The family invited us to sit on cushions, between the workers as they cut each stone. Sweet chai was brought to everyone in clear glasses on a tray, and after a few moments, they set to work.