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Eugene Weekly : Feature : 2.10.11

Loving Your Body 2011

Chemical Love Flash, Bang, Bam!

Sweat Your Butt Off Yoga at a cool 105 degrees

Diamond Dilemma Buy your baby an ethicalûValentines bauble

The Love Truffle And other sweets for your Valentines sweetie

Sledgehammer Love They laughed when I picked up my big tool

Diamond Dilemma

Buy your baby an ethicalûValentines bauble

by Camilla Mortensen

On Valentines Day, a couple of years back, my then-boyfriend got down on his knees at dawn and presented me with a lovely engagement ring. Hed had it locally made from U.S.-mined sapphire. In case the sapphire ring didnt meet my standards, he had a back-up ‹ûhis grandmothers antique diamond engagement ring.û

Handmade necklace by Marilyn Heiken, Azizi Jewelry

Too bad the whole actually-getting-married part didnt work out, because the engagement part was both terribly romantic and very politically correct.

Not everyone has a dead grandmother whose diamond was mined in the days before war and exploitation labeled some gems øblood diamonds." Somehow it takes all the romance out of your ornament when you discover someone in Africa was horribly exploited or murdered so you could get a multi-carat rock.û

So how do you propose to your bride, gift a lover, a partner or even a friend-with-expensive-benefits with a necklace, earrings or a toe ring ‹ sex scholars say the feet are the number one kink for the fetish-inclined ‹ in a way that says: øI totally adore you, but not enough to hurt people and exploit the planet"?

Local jewelers like Charles Beaudet of Beaudet Jewelry and Rick Beckett of Skeies Jewelers say, when it comes to diamonds, they are passionate about making sure the jewels are ethically mined. Beaudet says, øethical has other meanings beyond human rights," like conditions, pay, conservation and dignity. He says he tries to buy his diamonds from countries øthat have made great strides in the industry," such as Botswana, and he has the diamonds cut by people he knows and trusts as ethical in Antwerp.

Beaudet says the Kimberley Process, a U.N. mandated system, ensures that 99 percent of diamonds making their way to stores in America are conflict-free. Though some blood diamonds get into the U.S. through tourists who buy them rough-cut on the Ivory Coast, he says, øno cutter in the U.S will touch them."û

Some jewelers also will buy their diamonds from Canada, one of the sources for Skeies Jewelers, to guarantee they are conflict-free. But as local jewelry maker Marilyn Heiken points out, gemstone and precious metals mining, even in Canada, can have human and environmental consequences.û

øGold mining raises the same human rights concerns and also causes significant environmental damage," Heiken says. She adds that its ødifficult and expensive to obtain ethical gold."

Recycled silver, on the other hand, falls on the ethical side of the jewelry scale. Heiken says, øLast year, the total *scrap or recycled silver was 5,649 (metric) tonnes out of a total of 26,241 tonnes of new silver. Every dark cloud has a silver lining."

She says that for her locally made creations, she doesnt buy natural rubies, which also have ethical mining issues, or diamonds.ûøProblem solved!ûI do purchase lab-grown and treated stones, and semi-precious stones of all types. Rubies are beautiful, but so is pink tourmaline."

Heiken sells her jewelry on www.Etsy.com as Azizi Jewelry. You can find other local jewelry makers there as well. When you buy locally made jewelry not only can you check the ethics, Heiken says, you are also øinfusing the local economy and supporting local artists."û û