This has been laid out as a news article and can be found here: [link]: it if you want to bookmark the information.
brought up a great point on art supplies and suppliers and shared this wonderful article talking about it: [link] recommend reading it. I contacted my supplier, Fire Mountain Gems about this point and here's the information:
My email to them:
Good afternoon! I'm a frequent customer, but someone I know has brought to my attention that many jewelry supply stores buy their wares from places that do strip mining, abuse workers, and destroy the environment. I was wondering where it is you get your wares, and if you know how they are produced? It's depressing to think that my favorite supplier may be purchasing their stones from China or India where extremely low wages, employee abuse, and enviroment destruction run rampant. Please let me know where and how it is you get your stones and other beads. Your bone beads have me especially worried because the animal that died to make them may have died strictly for the purpose of making beads, much like some rabbits are raised to later be skinned for their fur and made into coats. The wood beads as well, because cutting down trees to make beads seems, in my mind, to be very unenviromentally friendly. A fast and detailed reply would be much appreciated. Thank you! ~Renee
Thank you for your email. We sincerely appreciate your concerns in regards to the products we offer. Our company is not currently associated with a specific fair trade organization. We do obtain many items from multiple sources located around the world. Our Hill Tribes and Rajasthan fine silver beads are an excellent example of fair trade products. We have two great articles regarding our Hill Tribes and Rajasthan silver products available. Links have been included below:
We have inspected every location in which we receive our products and have verified that the working conditions are satisfactory. Many of the vendors we work with have had a continuous relationship with Fire Mountain Gems and Beads for over 20 years. Chris and Stuart are very active in the purchasing process and spend many hours at these facilities before making their purchases.
While we do not have items that are specifically marked as Fair Trade, please be assured that we take legal and ethical standards regarding labor, work conditions and import/exports very seriously. Chris, Stuart and other employees often travel to meet with current and new vendors; touring facilities, observing and learning about processes and meeting employees. We truly believe that we, our vendors and out customers are able to create a better world in business, craft and community by having these types of standards.
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads imports many natural materials for jewelry-making, including shell, coral, horn, bone, fibers and wood. These items are strictly regulated and managed internationally by the United States Bureau of Fish and Wildlife for compliance with the Endangered Species Act. We feel confident in their decisions regarding the sensitivity and balance of these natural resources, and honor their discretion. We continue to import natural materials with their scrutiny, consent and advice. The bone beads come from water buffalo that have passed of natural causes. We appreciate your message and thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
If you should have any further questions or comments, please feel free to reply to this email. You may also contact us via Live Chat by clicking the button below or contact one of our friendly Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-423-2319 during regular business hours.
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Fire Mountain Gems and Beads
I found this information interesting and comforting at the same time. It's not often you find companies as open as FMG about where and how they get their supplies. I am personally taking this at face value.
Living in the city, in a crappy apt, with no car, makes it difficult for me to go about and about to get supplies on my own through long walks in the woods (which is very far away, and even a longer walk just trying to get there). As for some supplies I have received from someone other than FMG I get the wood for my wands from my Shaman Elder. He has several corkscrew willow trees, and they shed branches quite often. We get alotta storms in our area, and even just windstorms. When he finds decent fallen branches he brings them to me.
I know many other artists are in the same boat as far as finding supplies for their work. No way of getting out to an area with items you can find and take home with impacting the environment negatively. Even if you do find things you can use you may not have a way of putting it to real use without an outside source. Stones are a good example. Say you find a bunch of beautiful small stones that you can imagine using for jewelry. You have no skills in wire wrapping, no way of drilling a hole through it without causing damage, etc. I contact other artists to help me in this regard. Then you find yourself asking where do they get their supplies? ASK QUESTIONS! Yes, it may be inconvenient, but today's people have an addiction to convenience. I admit I am guilty of this.
Other options, as listed in the article, mention secondhand supplies. Thrift shops and items donated or given to you are good examples. I cannabalize old jewelry that hasn't sold, as well as jewelry people give to me that's been broken or damaged. I know this may be more difficult for people who don't make artisan craft works, but you'd be surprised at the various ways you can get creative. When I was in college one teacher I had said we weren't allowed to use convenient methods of doing our work. For glue I used oatmeal (that stuff is cement when it dries after it's been cooked!), I made my own paper from paper that I had used previously (you can find info online on how to make paper; it's messy but so much fun!!!), and various foods provide their own colors. Beets, carrots, and various other items that stain your clothes with their juice? Yeah, use those as paints by adding in thickeners if you need to. Or use them as dyes! We're artists and creativity is what we breathe. Inhale deeply.
For those who purchase supplies from various sources I recommend asking some tough questions laid out in the article and in my email conversation with FMG. I hope this helps!