Playing Fair

Eric Braunwart believes gem-mining operations shouldn't exploit children or pollute the environment and should pay miners a decent living wage. He also thinks retailers and consumers should be able to have confidence that a gemstone's origin and its route from mine to market are legitimate. Braunwart isn't a pie-in-the-sky dreamer. He's the chief executive officer of Columbia Gem House and jewelry division Trigem Designs in Vancouver, Wash., and he has a plan and a program to back up his vision. It's called Fair Trade Gems, and it's modeled on the more-familiar Fair Trade Coffee, a program that assures coffee farmers a decent living wage. In addition, most Fair Trade coffee, tea, and chocolate in the U.S. market is certified organic and shade grown, meaning the products maintain bio- diversity, provide shelter for migratory birds, and help reduce global warming. THE PRICE ISSUE Any
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