Is Crystal Collecting Ethical?

Hibiscus Moon Everyday/Personal Stuffs, science 34 Comments

Working in the crystal biz, I’ve been presented with ethics related questions regarding crystals & being a both a student & teacher of geology, I’ve had the opportunity to ask & explore the topic deeply.

I take this very seriously so this will be more of a serious & passionate post, Sweet Pea.

For years I’ve found myself having to defend mineral collecting against environmental activists (of which I consider myself to be one)…some of whom claim that crystal & mineral collecting is causing major destruction to our planet while also related to slavery + poor living conditions .

I think there may be some  confusion between mineral & crystal collecting VS. mining for precious gems (diamonds, rubies, emeralds)  & industrial ore (coal, aluminum, tin, etc). That stuff is not what I’m speaking of when we speak of mineral & crystal collecting AKA “specimen mining”.

SIDE NOTE: We all know about Blood or Conflict Diamonds, but you do not have to add to the turmoil. you can choose to purchase Ethical Diamonds. Here’s a great article on how to go about doing that.

In my extensive research I’ve found that specimen mining usually has little or no DIRECT impact on our planet.

Often times, specimens are collected as a by-product to ore mining where mines have been dug to get at coal, copper, aluminum, gold, etc. for other items our society seems to have no problem with. In addition, some of what is sold on the market are simply recycled specimens from estate sales. The ULTIMATE in recycling!

There is a HUGE difference here.

So, now let’s educate. This is what goes on in a specimen mine:

Now, keep in mind that most serious mineral collectors choose to abide by certain mineral collecting ethical guidelines (yep, open ’em up & check them out!)…but of course, are not required to & are often not regulated. However certain actions ARE illegal & can result in prosecution if ignored…depending on the country they’re mining in.

Here I am specimen mining for myself in Hot Springs, Arkansas on private land. You can read more about that wonderful experience here…

ethical crystal mining

Yes, some specimen mining methods cause some scarring & not all specimen mining is as kind to the Earth as this. Sometimes explosives are used to crack a stubborn rock. However, we’re not talking about massive strip mining & it’s usually just meters of rock & not very deep. Specimen mining really doesn’t have much of an impact on the environment, but commercial mining for ore is a totally different story.

Then there’s the subjective question of “what is damage?” Of course, there’ll be a certain amount of digging or rock breaking. Keep in mind, Mama Nature would do the same thing through ice wedging & erosion. Or given enough time, much more destructive Mama Earth forces….more on that below.

The Real Culprit

Industrial ore mining & mining for precious gems does require heavy blasting, strip mining & sometimes leads to poor living or working conditions.  Slavery comes into play most definitely with conflict minerals. What the heck are conflict minerals

THIS IS SOMETHING I IMPLORE YOU TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON & THEN PLEASE  PLEDGE TO SHARE THIS WITH 3 PEOPLE. (If you came to this post, you came here for a reason & you have been given a mission). PLEASE WATCH & READ ON:

If you’re concerned about human conditions in relation to the mining of minerals then the very minerals used in our computers & cell phones are the ones we need to concern ourselves with:

Find out what minerals are in your smart phone right here in this pdf.

I do try to choose a tech company that makes a conscious effort to minimize its use of conflict minerals. Are your electronics conflict free? The device you’re using to read this right now? None are 100%. Please check yours here now & if they’re not please email your tech company directly from the site to make your voice heard! This is so easy to do, doesn’t cost you a dime & is a great way for us to initiate change!

Then make sure you vote with your $ next time you need to purchase a computer or cell phone.

Vote with the $$!!

What about farming & urbanization? I feel those are much bigger disturbances to our planet…however less unavoidable.

Yes, child labor  & poor work conditions may be a problem in certain countries where there’s less regulation due to weak or corrupt governments.  And sometimes there is no way for us to know who exactly mined a crystal…or picked our food for that matter! Unless we were there or did it ourselves. Yep, that is a problem sometimes, but it’s true for anything.

War & rape going on over specimen crystal mining? No.

For our ipads & cell phones? Yes!!!

We don’t like to hear that do we? But we can change this. Please let these tech companies know that this is not OK.

Here’s a recent interview I did with Joanna DeVoe on the topic. I thank her for doing this & for spurring me on to finally finish this blog post! As you’ll see…I’m really passionate about this!

Now, not all ore mining companies are BAD.

Some do make a good effort to generate sustainable employment for the communities they operate in as well are required to meet strict requirements to back fill & reclaim the land they’ve destroyed….but, again…this is industrial ore minesnot specimen mining. Sometimes, in a war-torn & weary area, specimen mining is one of the only legit income opportunities the people there can hope for.

Lesson on The Rock Cycle

Oooo! Wait, I get to teach science again?!

OK, so we have THE ROCK CYCLE.

Guess what happens to crystal specimens that aren’t collected? Mother Earth recycles them.

Of course, I’m not saying “grab all you can b/c they’ll all be destroyed if you don’t”, but I do feel that we can be free to work with these very special crystal healing tools. They’ll eventually go back to the Mama Earth’s kitchen & more will be created no matter how powerful we think we are. 

ethical crystal mining rock cycle

SPARKLY RESOURCE: Here’s a crystal seller who claims to only provide ethically hand mined crystals, keeping in mind how the crystals are sourced, handled, stored & shipped.  I haven’t shopped with this company myself, but I like what they stand for. So please do your due diligence & check them out for yourself if you’d like & if you know of any other crystal sellers who are passionate about keeping crystal mining ethical please post in the comments below!

So, if this is a concern of yours…assuming it is since you landed here…please get involved. Inform others about Conflict Minerals. Email your tech companies & tell them what you think. Is your techy stuff as conflict free as you can make it? Do you agree or disagree with me? I’m always open to hearing other sides…as long as we keep it mature &  respectful. I’d love to hear about your efforts or what you think!!

Crystal Blessings,

Comments 34

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  1. I see what you mean about people not showing interest. I posted the interview on my Facebook business page and got a couple of likes. If I’d posted an inspirational quote or hilarious graphic it would be more like 40 likes. So frustrating. Just keep plugging away I guess.
    Thank you BOTH for getting this out there.

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      That’s exactly what I mean. Its inconvenient for this to be an issue so some pretend not to know, ignore or sweep it under the rug. I’m just going to keep at it. Not going to be annoying about it but I every once in a while it needs to be shouted about from the mountain tops!

  2. I never knew that my beloved smartphone contained some things that are detrimental to our mother earth. Next time I upgrade my phone and buy a laptop I will make sure I buy one that is from a “green” company. If it weren’t for this post I would never have gotten this information. Now that I am more informed I will be able to blog about this and inform my followers. Thanks for this post. Yay!

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    2. A “green” company…every phone is made with the same elements because THAT IS HOW THEY WORK. It’s impossible to avoid it. Better get off the grid now.

  3. Great blog. It brings up a topic that I frequently get questions about and that is whether it is humane to the crystals to cut and polish them? Or whether we should let them remain in their natural state? Thoughts?

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      Great point. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it b/c, again…Mother Earth tumbles stones naturally smoothing them in a stream. We are just mimicking that with a rock tumbler. HAving said that, I prefer the energy of a natural crystal if its practical to use in that state…I feel its stronger.

    2. I completely agree with hibiscusmoon in the fact that we are just mimicking nature. What I don’t agree with is that there are lab created stones, and some of the stone polishers use harsh chemicals to Polish them. If everyone was a little more nature conscious.
      Ryan Danke
      http://www.healing-tree.weebly.com
      Healing Tree
      Owner

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        1. What rather torques me off is when lab-created stuff gets labeled as the real deal in discount jewelry, but the cost of the jewelry itself is nowhere near what it should be in reality. I can get the REAL deal, wholesale, make it into something simple, yet elegant, and charge what it’s worth (cost, labor, etc) and people who know what’s what about great jewelry will pay the going retail price for an item because they KNOW it is the real deal. (Hey, I got Saturn in Leo, so I like to make sure my handmade bling is worth every stinkin’ penny! 😉 Meow, dang it!)

  4. Thank you again for addressing this subject. I feel so much better about purchasing and using my crystals. Also, it is important for people to know about the impact to the earth of the mining of precious gems and ores, thank you for taking a stand on the issue. Bright, sparkly blessings!

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      Corvin, thank you for your comments & you make some points that I address in the above video interview…namely the fact that crystals can be obtained without vast energy output or at least with not as much as some think. In addition, if I live in a place where I can’t mine for myself, I see nothing wrong with purchasing from someone who has done some hand mining for me.

      I have never condoned hoarding anything. In fact, I have a pet peeve with hoarding & don’t have a large collection myself & don’t condone it for my students.

  6. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you addressing this topic. I have spent so much time and energy reflecting on this, being that I make my living selling crystals, and feel the same way you do. I also always think that crystals are not disposable. They are sacred to the people who purchase them, they are honored and cherished. That can not be said for much of the products that ore is being mined to create. I also think that nothing will leave this earth, 10 million years from now all these minerals will still be here dancing in their wild combinations making new crystals. Thanks for addressing such a touchy subject.

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  7. Yeah, you did make some good points that our electronics/general stuff come from negative situations and do no good for the environment, it’s inhabitants, it’s people. But making excuses, two wrongs don’t make a right. The earth NATURALLY does what it does, we use a hell of a lot more energy to get these crystals. And it’s not about “oh, well, we do this with our food, we still use energy and oppress others for our needs”. It’s not about “we already do it”. It’s about trying our best to do what we can to preserve this earth as long as possible. Food is essential. We need food, water, shelter, the basics. Do we NEED crystals? No. I’ve done enough research, crystals can usually be used for aesthetic properties or as TOOLS for spiritual purposes. And as far as spirituality goes? It’s all about respect, and buying crystals from some random person isn’t very intimate or spiritual, and most times it’s didn’t even come to be out of respect. If you really feel the need to have a spiritual tool/piece of jewelry, DIY! Do your research, go out and FIND crystals, and there’s no need to hoard them. Get intimate with it, feel it, feel free to take it if you are allowed if it really speaks to you. Crystals these days are sought after for hipster “neo-pagan” uses, and clearly there is no spiritual discipline or respect in that. People gotta buy everything out ASAP to fulfill their “needs” which is a bunch of bogus.

    And to the person who says they’ll try to look for electronics from “green” companies, do take caution, there is that thing called “green-washing”, if you’re unfamiliar with it, you should look it up!

    1. I scrolled down after reading this article hoping that someone else will have already pointed out the numerous problems with the author’s logic. Thank you for that informed comment.

      The stones people are blasting/tearing out of the earth are NON-RENEWABLE. Assuming the conditions will be right to make those stones again, they take millions of years to form. I’m surprised the author, who claims to teach geology, failed to mention this. Actually, I’m not surprised, because this whole article is her try to excuse what she’s promoting.

      You can try to rationalize it any way you want (“Hey, someone’s doing something worse over there!”), but what you’re doing is destructive and irreversible. And for what? So you can feel “spiritual”? No, those crystals weren’t “calling” to be torn from the earth so that you can hoard them with a bunch of other stones or hang them from a chain around your neck.

      1. Well said Lilith K. Thank you for your comments. I was feeling the same way after reading the article. It seems that people can justify anything to fit their needs.

        I no longer buy crystals after learning more about the mining process.

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  10. Yes, I have a small crystal collection. But I have to say that people’s appetite for crystals these days is insatiable, bordering on gluttonous. It’s really kind of disgusting. With that said, why aren’t beautiful beach pebbles and rocks given the same glorified status that crystals are? Why don’t people use these beautiful beach finds the same way they use crystals? I guess the lowly beach rocks aren’t “sexy” enough, or aren’t mystical enough. I think found rocks and stones have just as much, and if not more, healing energy / vibration than crystals do, as they don’t have an ethical dilemma / stigma attached to them. Crystals, these days, are BIG business and just another part of our ravenous consumer culture….

  11. Thanks for starting this important discussion.

    “Yes, child labor & poor work conditions may be a problem in countries where there’s less regulation due to weak or corrupt governments. And sometimes there is no way for us to know who exactly mined a crystal or picked our food for that matter! Unless we were there or did it ourselves! Yep, that is a problem sometimes but its true for anything is it not?”

    I really feel like the starting point is to ask. Ask where everything we consume comes from. Don’t think ‘oh, maybe child labour was used to bring me this crystal, but hopefully not’ – ask the supplier. We have to step up and take responsibility for what we consume, that includes electronics, but also food, clothing and yeah, crystals. Especially crystals, since we’re often using them because of their vibes. What vibes do you really get from a crystal that was mined by a mistreated child?

    There are ethical alternatives out there. In the UK, I like Kacha Stones, who source ethically mined crystals from around the world. (And I stock Stephen’s hand-mined Welsh quartz in my own shop – he digs it himself with a hand trowel 🙂

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  14. Thanks so much for this article… I am very much aware lately that my crystals have a negative energy about them, or rather, most of ones that I have purchased. It is good to read an article, and the follow up comments that came from it that explain the senses that I am receiving. I thought I was going a bit loopy. I find that the crystals and special rocks that I have found have such a stronger more positive energy, along with a handful of purchased ones that have obviously been ethically sourced. I love Corvin’s response, well written and sensible. I think it is time for a crystal cull. maybe give them back to Mother Earth and whoever finds them in the future, I hope that some of those negative vibes are gone. Much love and light and thank you again.

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