My relationship with Gardens of the Sun feels like a love affair. A healthy and wholesome relationship, where we’ve both managed to evolve and grow, and learn together. And we’re continuously asking questions on how we could be better. Big questions, small questions, strange little detours in our thought processes. It’s been quite the ride these past few years!
One of the things that I wanted to do with Gardens of the Sun is to ethically source our raw materials. It was how I felt we could make the most impact in our tiny corner of the jewelry industry.
It might sound very ambitious for a small company, but honestly… It’s because we’re a small company that we can make these huge leaps. It’s because we’re a small company that I can meet everyone in our supply chain.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s dial it back a little.
The Jewelry Glossary Projectare made of industry professionals who aim to to create shared definitions of key terms within the jewelry industry for use by the trade and the public. The project's goal is to increase transparency throughout the supply chain, by building consensus on definitions for key terms and creating accountability for their usage.
By the above definition, ethical sourcing is a way to source raw material that facilitates environmental and human well-being, avoiding practices that do harm. This is especially important because the mining of gemstones and minerals can have such a huge impact on the environment, and so many livelihoods are fully dependent on it. Ethical sourcing makes sure each step of the way is accountable both socially and environmentally. It also means that there’s also an opportunity to go beyond that. To improve and tweak processes from ‘not harming’ to actually ‘do more good’.
Indonesia is rich in natural resources. All that glitters can be found in our very own (extended) backyard. Several precious and semi-precious gemstones can be sourced from this amazing archipelago! From quartz, jaspers, pearls, agate, diamonds, sapphires, amethyst to a truly incredible variety of opals.
Ethically sourcing gemstones in Kalimantan is a project that I’m very passionate about.
Gorgeous shades of green surrounded us in
Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Borneo Sapphire Ring with Hidden Gems in 18 karat ethical gold.
But it’s not just gemstones. You know our story with gold. It's something I will never get tired of talking about because of how important it is, and I am super proud of the ethical gold promise we can give you.
In the short span of 2 years, our team has managed to establish a sourcing line for ethical gold. Mercury-free gold mined by indigenous artisanal women miners, who are paid a premium (above market price) for ethical gold.
We make sure to take care of them in other ways too, from workshops on money management to education opportunities for their kids.
Ethical engagement rings with gold mined by artisanal miners zin Kalimantan, Indonesia which can be found in our Origins collection.
Theory and practice are two very different things. We meet obstacles along the way that need to be tackled and handled with care.
Sometimes our roadblocks are monetary, sometimes it’s to do with human resources, and sometimes it’s a matter of timing and location. Sometimes we just don’t know who to ask.
But sometimes, we get super lucky.
Sometimes we manage to ask the right questions, to the right people, who know the right locations.
Learning to pan for sapphires in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Through a contact I had from my former career as a sustainability consultant, we found a source for sapphires and rubies that we can rely on! Well, for a short while anyway. The partnership is in its infancy. We have a very limited batch of sapphires that were mined in Central Borneo by indigenous miners, who are, again, paid a premium. We’re slowly structuring the support system around our precious miners. Hard workers who are ready to take on this challenge with us.
The miners we work with search gemstone-rich soil that they dig up by hand, in large wooden pans - hence panning. They find sapphires, rubies, garnets, agates... It’s as low impact as mining can be. Plus, by cutting out the middlemen, we can give higher prices to the miners. Being in direct contact with the source, we can promise a fully ethical journey.
To support them, I’ve decided to launch our Borneo Gems collection! You can find our ethically sourced sapphires and rubies up on our site. We’re now on the next leg of our journey to make sure that our tiny sliver of hope for a sustainable and ethical source of sapphires and rubies gets the love and attention it deserves.
Rough Borneo Sapphire Rings in sterling silver
Over the years, Gardens of the Sun has laid down some groundwork on how we can make our business more ethical. Traceability and transparency is such a huge part of how I want to craft Gardens of the Sun as the ultimate ethical business.
I hope you’re as excited as I am to know that we’re one step closer to achieving this dream!
We're more than happy to answer any and all of your questions regarding our sourcing policies!