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child mine worker

Gemstone Mining in Africa

child mine worker

Child mine worker working in what some might consider rough conditions. Taken by Institute of Global Labor.

It is commonly known that through the natural process of time, gemstones are made through minerals. They are mined from the earth, with mining taking place in almost every country on the planet. This can range from countries with a high economic status, or even those who are on the lower end of the spectrum. Sometimes countries that struggle with advanced development and the ones that struggle economically are the ones used for the most mining. This is because labor costs are low and there is more availability of people to fill the jobs. Countries that fit under this profile can include many countries in Africa and sometimes South America as well. African nations like Mauritania and Sudan, Tanzania now is emerging as the latest center for the exploitation of child labor.

Clear stones are most commonly mined for in Africa because of the mineral composition that is found deep in the mines. Over time, even more gemstones are gradually forming, which leads to a continuous process of searching for and locating new mining areas. Again, this is another reason jobs are often available in the mining industry. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and this is usually done in harsh conditions. In Africa, the climate can generally be unforgiving. Hot, dry conditions make for tough work in this part of the world. The gemstone industry can be straining on the body, both physically and mentally.

clear gemstones

Some of the clear gemstones you might find that come from Africa. Taken by Mauro Cateb.

This industry, despite all of these hard conditions, is still very desirable for two main reasons. One of these reasons is the high price people are willing to pay for these beautiful rocks that are formed deep in the earth. The beauty of these gemstones have captivated the eye of society’s wealthiest people. The money they are willing to contribute to the finding of these gems is enough to keep people working for more. The other reason is the rarity of the gems. Since there aren’t many that exist around Africa and other places, they are always being scoured. Since they take so much time to locate and form, it can become very rare to locate a new mining site. The mining need a serious and  good education of Geology.

There is quite a bit of competition in the mining industry, since people are always looking for the “lottery winning” mine site. This can drive people to extremes in search of the money pit that can be sitting in the rock. Because there is such high competition for people to find the gemstones, unsafe work conditions are often experienced. Sometimes people are in a rush when there is a potential for new gems. Other times they are trying to beat their competition to a new site, and rely on unsafe practices in order to meet their time crunch situation. The work conditions are becoming a large issue on the global scale, and drawing attention to the gemstone mining scene taking place in African countries. The movie Blood Diamond made the situation much more aware on the public level. This is great for those who are putting themselves in harm’s way to retrieve the gems. There is potential now for improved conditions and for future improvements to be made.

The mining industry has been an interesting topic for several years. There are may controversial topics that stem from the situation, and this makes for many debates. The beautiful result in the shiny gemstone comes from hours of labor and struggle, only to sit in the hands of the rich and wealthy people of the world. There are some changes in the system, but there are future changes that still need to be addressed.

 

The Unknown Value Of Quartz

I’ve recently been doing some research on quartz gems particularly and a little bit on mining history and some other little facts about current events in mining. I’ve found out some pretty interesting information as a result, and I’ve developed a new respect for quartz.

quartz-earrings

I really like the look of these perfectly polished refined quartz earrings. I might not be as much of a jewelry aficionado as my mother but I couldn’t tell these apart from a high quality diamond. © Naomi King.

While quartz is a great deal more common to be found throughout the Earth than a diamond but also less hard, however to be fair, diamonds are the hardest mineral on the planet so that’s nothing for quartz to be ashamed about! So I went about trying to see what ways that the density or hardness I found myself discovering a measurement system for the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness.  Now according to this scale, quartz is relatively hard, ranked seven out of ten (diamond of course being the hardest) and has been said to fracture and shatter in similar patterns as glass would. I wouldn’t want any piece of jewelry that would break as easily as glass, but something that’s hard enough to withstand a serious fall and still look as beautiful as a diamond is definitely worth considering for adding to any jewelry collection.

mining-life

This photo is nearly a century old and you can see that a lot has changed since then. I don’t think our world’s miners have quite so cumbersome uniforms, but we probably still make good use of donkeys or other beasts of burden. © Rick Cooper.

It’s pretty intense to imagine how far we’ve come in the past century when it comes to a lot of things in the world. Technology, travel, communication, entertainment, and science have all advanced exponentially, and the world of mining is no exception. However, while safety has been highly bolstered in the past hundred years, we still see serious situations with trapped miners on the news, so the job has never been without danger. Couple this with the natural occurrence of the degenerative respiratory disease called “Black Lung Disease” (typically found in coal miners who have worked in mines for several years) you can see that this career path is definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of spine.

quartz-gems

It’s interesting that refined quartz can be sized and shaped and colored in such a variety as this. It reminds me of gems that come from corundum (rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.) with such diversity, but with a great deal less expense. © Carl Malamud.

With a little research I’ve found out a little more about these color variations and how they come about naturally. If formed in clear water, quartz is usually called mountain crystal or rock crystal.  With other “impurities” added to the development of the quartz, it will cultivate different variations of color. Citrine (one of two names I did remember from this list) is used for yellow and orange quartz, amethyst (the only other I recognized!) is used to refer to purple quartz, while rose-quartz is for pink, milky quartz is for white and black is for smoky quartz. I’m sure that you could probably find out plenty of interesting information with your own research, but hopefully this article will give you a good idea for your next jewelry purchase.

Contemporary And Cool Jewelry

I’m not the most well versed or the best educated or best informed or best skilled when it comes to knowledge of beads or crafting them in general (good luck finding someone that can feel that confident and back it up!) but I think at the very least, I do have good taste.  And lately I’ve been browsing around trying to spot some of the up and coming coolest sites and artists out there.  Most currently I’ve been trying to check out some lovely beads at wholesale price and have had some moderate success as you can probably tell from a single glance at that website in the hyper link there.  I’ve been browsing the jewelry and getting a myriad of ideas for gifts and fun little surprises for friends and family alike as well as I have found out some pretty information regarding quartz and I’ve developed a new respect for Quartz also.

czech-seed-beads

Above you can plainly see this awesome little piece of jewelry comprised of Czech bead work.  It’s really intricate and I’d like to have a piece like this for somebody special, but one thing that’s kind of funny to me is that it has been compared to a butterfly in appearance, while I would argue it’s more like the cute little caterpillar stage of their life cycle.  (This photo is © of Preciosa Ornela).

Now while I’ve been extolling the virtues of these more classic pieces of jewelry as you can see above, I think I should back pedal for a moment and mention that nice website has some of the coolest jewelry with aesthetic elements I can’t quite pin down to any one individual style.  They don’t necessarily have that Czech style as you can see in the photo above, and they don’t quite have as much of a (arguably immature) quality as the bead work in the photo below, but I think their selection tends to strike a fine balance and blend the best of both worlds.  The line between classic and contemporary, retro and new school if you wish to call it, is rather blurred and I think I like that.  I prefer a unique style that strikes out on its own and makes a name for itself rather than just remaining stagnant and trying to reinforce a simple standard that we’ve already come to know and love.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to be loyal to the styles I’ve come to embrace but I think there’s something to be said for finding a new style to enjoy.  Maybe it’s my experience with western culture where I enjoy a melting pot of different cultures but I can’t help but really enjoy a selection that offers a diverse array of options. The Beads are also give the power of courage and Blue sapphire is an alluring blue variety of corundum.

bead-pixel-art

I can’t help but feel such a gleeful little spasm of my childhood, so giddy with joy at the sight of this.  Sean Loyless posted this supremely cool photo of beaded representations of yester year and of the new age’s popular culture.

If you’re not a video game fan such as me then you probably don’t recognize the sight of Pac Man and one of his ghost enemies on that bottom row, with a pair of ghosts from the Super Mario Bros. video game series set beside them!  And above, you can see the popular internet meme “Nyan Cat” as well as a character from the popular Adult Swim animated series, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” in the top left.  I am thoroughly impressed to see someone has been capable of capturing the awesome qualities of the relatively cotemporary (at least for people my age or older!) pieces of 1980’s popular culture (as seen in the representation of Pac Man and the Super Mario Bros. ghosts) as well as the more contemporary aspects of the current generation’s popular culture (as seen in the visage of the Nyan Cat and Aqua Teen Hunger Force character).

Losing a Loved one is never easy we hold their memories in our heart but with the passing of time we forgot their smile and memories. That’s why a hand crafted beads allow you to carry their smile and memory.

I’m happy to see that bead work has been keeping up with the times and that there are businesses out there that are perceptive enough to keep their ears to ground and fingers on the pulse of culture, offering people what they didn’t know that they wanted and needed.

Geology Is Awesome

geology-grand-canyon

I’m not that surprised to see people have been interested in Geology for a long time, but it’s nice to see that even a regular family in the 1930’s would enjoy something like a geological survey tour.  This photo is © Grand Canyon National Park.

Geology is such an interesting field to get into and requires some serious commitment and education.  I wouldn’t attempt it unless I was truly prepared for a real career and lifetime commitment; definitely not your job the fly by night, flight of fancy type of attitude.  But that being said it’s still just so cool to look at all of the interesting things that are lying in wait to be discovered just beneath the surface of the earth we walk around on so nonchalantly.  I suppose the furthest back we might consider our geological surveys to originate from would be the barely evolved cave men poking around in the dirt looking for a half decent piece of rock to try and use as a weapon against the dangers of the world around them.  Thankfully we evolved and started to use those rocks as better weapons and combined it with our formidable friend known as “fire” to create real tools for construction (and of course destruction as we are all very well aware of at this point in society).  However I guess the funny thing is, even as we’ve developed our cultures and intelligence and general perception and behavior with each other and the world around us as a whole, it seems like we still highly prize certain precious metals, minerals and pretty gems.  I wonder what cave men would think if they knew back then that a few shiny diamonds would be worth more than a vehicle capable of allowing them to travel for over a hundred thousand miles?

geology-and-ice

This super cool (did you catch my painfully obvious pun there?) picture of some natural minerals and stones surrounded by ice comes to us from Alan Levine so a big thanks to him for this photo!

I’m not a geologist but those rocks in that picture certainly look a lot more rare and interesting than the random pebbles I see from day to day.  I know that there’s plenty of information out there (of particular note in the US for those interested in surveys) for anyone that wants to learn about geology and the extensive surveys which geologists perform regularly around the world.  While I don’t know if we’ll find the cure for cancer inside of a rock or not, I’m sure that the precious materials in our planet are a boon for just about every industry in the world.  I can’t completely discount it though, maybe it’s just the romantic in me but I have to wonder, since it seems only logical that a cure for the worst diseases that originate on this planet would likely come from this planet as well, and not some magical space rock; hopefully we won’t waste too much more money on space exploration until we’ve perfected faster-than-light travel!

geology-and-pickaxe

I doubt there’s a better way to close up a fun blog posting about geology than to put up a picture of one of the oldest and most effective tools of the trade (the mighty pickaxe!) for anyone who’s had to dig through some of the tougher parts of earth.  Mike Beauregard.

The Progress Against Blood Diamonds

blood-diamond

Image is courtesy of: qthomasbower.

Many experts have claimed that the illegal mining and distribution of diamonds in Africa has been funding violent conflicts (typically with guerrilla warfare and various governments’ military getting involved) throughout Africa, with sums totaling into the billions of dollars (USA standard).  In fact, Al Qaeda, one of this world’s most notorious and violent terrorist organizations, is known to have made millions of dollars from the sale of diamonds mined illegally by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.  The motivation for many of the warlords behind the violence against the African governments is primarily for control over the region’s extremely profitable diamond industry.  The above image is that of a diamond originating in Africa, although it is not fair to say that all diamonds mined from Africa are the result of bloodshed, many people find themselves avoiding the purchase of them just to be safe as a means of boycotting the conflicts and bringing down the value of such diamonds, with the objective being to render the operations no longer profitable and therefore worthless to continue.  Sometimes nonviolent and passive resistance is far more efficient than deadly force. While quartz is a great deal more common to be found throughout the Earth than a diamond.

But now let’s bring our focus back to Sierra Leone, the place of origin for the Revolutionary United Front, which has threatened, mutilated, or killed many people that live around or have access to diamond mining operations, with the objective being control and profit of these operations.  The group went about marauding and carving a swath around the nation, taking control of as many diamond mining operations as they possibly could.  The recent statistics have stated that tens of thousands of people have been mutilated, nearly a hundred thousand have been killed and more than two million people have had to flee the country entirely.

three-african-diamonds

Image is courtesy of: Cliff.

Throughout the 1990’s the global community of human rights organizations began publicizing these events of genocide to the front of many news headlines.  The creation of a program as a joint venture between the diamond industry and the United Nations was formed, and titled Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KCPS).  Regulation of the trade and sale of diamonds is the key focus of the KCPS, essentially trying to keep all the violence over these valuable jewels to a minimum, if not to dissolve them all entirely.  There are dozens of nations that are involved with KCPS and it is still an active program currently, with all the nations involved doing their utmost to have any shipments containing diamonds to have very specific combinations of numbers and certifications from governments that then guarantee that the goods within the container do not have any illicit diamonds.

Clearly there has been progress, but more could be done to dismantle these criminal organizations and guarantee the safety of the innocent people that pay the price for their presence.  Feel free to check out the following link for more information on mining in Africa.

Natural Oval Blue Sapphire

Sources of Blue Sapphire

Sapphire is an alluring blue variety of corundum. It belongs to the same family to which ruby, the red variety belongs. Second only to diamond in the list of hardest minerals found on earth, sapphire has been popularly used since ancient ages. Widely used in the making of jewelry, the gemstone has industrial uses as well. The stunning blue color gemstone has many beliefs associated with it and the most important attribute is that it is a protector. It is believed to safeguard the wearer from evil spirits, calm the mind and relieves stress. As we see in most gemstones, this fascinating gemstone has health benefits too to offer.

Blue Sapphire – A Simple Outline

Sapphire belongs to the family of corundum and we find yet another distinguished member in the family in the form of red colored ruby. Sapphire, which is mostly seen in blue color, is available in various other colors including white, yellow, brown, pink and purple. These ancient gemstones are seen in igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and in alluvial deposits. The gemstones were used by royals in the past. Kings were seen with sapphires around their necks, as they believed in the gemstone’s ability to protect from hazards. The Geologist is also do the work to find Sapphire.

Countries Where Blue Sapphire Is Found

Sapphire gemstones are available in various parts of the world including Kashmir, Burma, Srilanka, Thailand and Brazil. Let us have a quick review on the sapphires found here.

Kashmir

If based on the colors, Kashmir sapphires can be classified into three types as deep blue sapphires, green sapphires and sapphires with a shade of red. Ancient texts in India refer to sapphires. Deposits of blue sapphires were found between 1879 and 1882. The peak for sapphire findings in Kashmir was between 1882 and 1887. Kashmir has produced the finest specimens of sapphires. Now Kashmir sapphires are hard to come by and they are considered prized possessions. Read more