This Labor Day, Bario Neal announces a new collection of engagement rings featuring our ethically sourced white sapphires. These precious gems come to you from a small family-run mine in Sri Lanka that uses fair labor practices and environmentally conscious methods.
Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a long and colorful history. The South Asian Island, once called Ratna-Dweepa, or “Gem Island,” was named Ceylon under British Colonial rule until 1972 , a term that is now synonymous with sapphires. Our supplier recently visited Sri Lanka to confirm in person that our source of sapphires upholds strong ethical standards for environmental impact, fair working conditions, compensation, and benefits.
Passing the test with flying colors, this Sri Lankan sapphire mine performs its operations on an artisanal scale. A combination of hand tools, and some machinery for more substantial digging, are used. Compared with open pit mines, this type of small-scale mining has a very low environmental impact.
The images below, from our supplier’s recent visit, illustrate the workers in their working environment, the depth of the mines, and the type of mining activities employed:
All cutting and polishing is done on site at the mine, eliminating the possibility for stones to be shipped to a cutting facility where human rights abuses could occur. An added bonus to this technique is the ability to provide unique custom cuts, like the the half-moon shapes above. Workers are well trained and use up-to-date equipment in a clean, safe environment. Occasionally, we also reshape sapphires on Jeweler’s Row, right here in Philadelphia.
Workers cutting and polishing stones (above) and polishing tools (below).
Remarkably, none of the sapphires from this Sri Lanka mine are color treated–they come in their pure, natural colors. The rings pictured at the beginning of this article feature white sapphires, but we also source pink, white, yellow, apricot, and a variety of blue sapphires as well.
We hope you are as excited as we are about these new designs, especially knowing that the gems come from a trusted mine with a low environmental impact, where workers are treated well and paid fair wages–a more thoughtful approach to Labor Day, when most of retail is focusing on big flashy sales.
If you have questions or are inspired by our new collection or white sapphires, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contact us directly.