Buying Ethical Crystals Shouldn’t Be This Hard (2022)

Chances are, you’re within a six-foot radius of a crystal right now. It could be the rose quartz pendant hanging around your neck, the amethyst on your desk that helps you focus, or your beloved jade face roller. If you’re obsessed with these sparkly rocks—or even if you just ended up with a few in your possession thanks to your one woo-woo friend—you’re certainly not alone. According to The Guardian, demand for crystals and gemstones doubled between 2016 and 2019, and the industry is now worth m-u-l-t-i-p-l-e billions. But while these rocks are supposed to help boost your intuition and cleanse your space of bad vibes, their journey to your apartment often involves labor practices that would make you shudder.

This is not breaking news. In 2014, the New York Times found that Myanmar’s jade industry—then spurred by demand from China—“helped finance a bloody ethnic conflict and unleashed an epidemic of heroin use and HIV infection among the Kachin minority who work the mines.” In 2016, a Global Witness report found that Afghanistan’s lapis lazuli mines provide the Taliban up to $20 million per year. In 2018, the New Republic attempted to track down the sources of crystals and found that many came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where children as young as 7 work in industrial mines. In August 2019, Los Angeles magazine reported that some L.A. crystals were sourced from Brazil, where there is “an epidemic of illegal and destructive mining” that is destroying the Amazon rainforest. Less than a month later, The Guardian published an investigation into the crystal industry in Madagascar, where around 85,000 children work in mines.

But even after all these chilling reports, there’s still next to no transparency about where your amethyst comes from.

For example, let’s look at Etsy. I randomly chose 20 active crystal shops on the platform that had sold between 4,000 and 50,000 products since opening. Of the 20 shops, only four listed information on the country of origin of their crystals, and none named specific mines. This makes sense, because it could tip off a competing shop to a supplier—but it also means that unless you’re intimately familiar with labor laws in countries around the world, there’s no way to tell if your shiny new citrine was ethically sourced.

(Video) 4 Steps to Source Ethical, High Quality Crystals

Buying Ethical Crystals Shouldn’t Be This Hard (1)

When I asked the Etsy vendors directly if their crystals were sourced ethically, 14 said yes, but most didn’t share details about specific mines. Because there is no international certification scheme for crystal mining—as there is for diamonds—consumers have to rely exclusively on the word of the shops they purchase from. And shop owners have to rely on the word of their suppliers, who have to rely on the word of the mine owners—some of whom are the ones responsible for unethical labor practices to begin with. It’s a messed-up game of telephone, to say the least.

(Video) The SCARY Reason I THREW OUT all my Crystals & Spiritual Stuff

Still, a handful of crystal sellers are really trying to make sure their rocks are sourced in a socially responsible way. Kahtonna Allen, a veteran and self-described “army brat,” launched her store House of NteKKah on Etsy in 2017, then opened a brick-and-mortar store in Augusta, Georgia, earlier this year. When she attends crystal and gem shows, she questions each vendor thoroughly, choosing to purchase only from those who can offer the most information. She knows that some aren’t honest about their stones’ origins. “You’ll hear about, ‘Oh, there’s this rare stone that was found,’ then you figure out this stone was found in a mine that was closed down because people were harmed. I’m not purchasing that,” she says. On top of questioning vendors about their crystals’ origins, Allen also avoids stocking crystals that are known to be commonly mined by forced and child labor, such as malachite. She sources the mineral from only a single vendor who she says has documented ethical practices.

Kelley Knight, author of Spells for the Modern Mystic and owner of the Modern Mystic Shop in Atlanta, uses the same strategy as Allen, choosing to build relationships with family-owned mines and suppliers who can share details about their mines—some even provide photos and videos. “We know these folks personally, including the owners, and trust what they say,” she says. She asks every supplier she purchases from at least three questions: “Do you ethically source your crystals? Do you know which mines they come from or who owns the mines? Do you know if the miners and polishers are treated fairly, paid fairly, and provided PPE?”

If you’re not regularly chatting up crystal vendors (same), there are still precautions you can take: Be wary of anything cheap. “A crystal that costs 30 percent less in comparison than most of your local, or even online, stores needs to be researched. Ethically sourced stones generally cost more to the reseller and [that] makes the retail price higher,” Knight says. As in, that selenite palm stone selling for $3, when they usually go for around $10, really could be too good to be true. Knight pays a premium to work with suppliers who source from ethical mines, and to stay in business, she needs to connect with caring and educated customers willing to shell out for quality. She compares crystals to fast fashion, another industry that’s earned criticism for its reliance on child labor, low wages, and unsafe working conditions. “The question shouldn’t be, ‘Why are you so expensive?’ It should be, ‘Why are you so cheap?’” Knight says.

Buying Ethical Crystals Shouldn’t Be This Hard (2)
(Video) ETHICALLY SOURCED CRYSTALS | What ETHICAL GEMSTONES means and why it matters for SELLERS and BUYERS

Knight also prioritizes vendors that source crystals from mines within the United States. Although the U.S. doesn’t produce as wide an array of stones, the Fair Labor Standards Act makes forced or child labor illegal. “If we can source from the U.S., we can assume by default it’s ethically sourced,” she says.

When all else fails, there’s always the option to DIY. Consumers can mine their own stones at destinations like Emerald Hollow Mine in North Carolina, which claims to be the only emerald mine in the world open to the public. Amateur miners and gem hunters, also called “rockhounds,” sometimes sell their finds in shops or at gem shows. One shop owner I contacted said she extracts, cuts, and polishes most of the stones she sells herself. And although some crystal healers say lab-grown crystals can’t be used for spiritual purposes because they don’t come from the earth, Knight disagrees: “Lab-grown crystals are usually made of natural minerals and therefore still completely maintain their ability to affect their environment, and us, through their energy and mineralization.”

(Video) Why I Stopped Collecting Crystals (honest advice you should hear)

Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re purchasing crystals as ethically as possible:

  • Compare prices across shops and avoid the lowest-priced crystals, particularly if they’re 30 percent or more lower-priced than competitors.
  • Ask sellers—whether in person or online—about the origins of their products. If they can’t give you a straight answer, take your money elsewhere.
  • Write letters to government officials advocating for stricter labor and mining laws, particularly outside the U.S.
  • Talk to your friends and followers about crystal mining issues.

    Sure, the crystals we love may have positive effects on those who own them. But if miners or children or a rainforest were harmed in the process of getting that hunk of rose quartz to your doorstep, then those good vibes really aren’t worth it.

    Abby Lee HoodAbby Lee Hood is a Nashville-based writer covering gender, justice, leftist politics and video games.

    FAQs

    How do you ethically buy crystals? ›

    Here's what you can do to make sure you're purchasing crystals as ethically as possible: Compare prices across shops and avoid the lowest-priced crystals, particularly if they're 30 percent or more lower-priced than competitors. Ask sellers—whether in person or online—about the origins of their products.

    What does it mean if crystals are ethically sourced? ›

    Bellino defines ethically sourced crystals as “[taking] into account the way in which [the crystals] are mined, and how this impacts on not only the earth itself but also the people that are part of the sourcing process”.

    Is crystal environmentally friendly? ›

    Crystals Are A Non-Renewable Resource

    The environmental damage doesn't stop with water. What most of us don't think about is that gemstones and crystals are a non-renewable resource – meaning that their supply from geological deposits is finite.

    Is Moonrise crystals ethical? ›

    Ethical Crystals

    Their main concern is the stone's beauty and price, and they “trust their sources.” At Moonrise Crystals, we trust and then verify. We vet our supply chain for real ethical concerns like: Fair Wages. Safe Factory Conditions.

    Is Rose Quartz ethically sourced? ›

    Last, the fact that they are ethically sourced and morally conscious is everything!! I 100% recommend her shop and also her website (moonrisecrystals) if you want to see and learn even more!

    Will the world run out of crystals? ›

    Much like with anything to do with sustainability, less is more is also a good approach. After all, crystals are a nonrenewable resource that will eventually run out.

    Is it unethical to buy crystals? ›

    Some stones sold as wellness crystals online have been traced to mines involved in unethical practices. Studies have found "healing" crystals do not perform better than placebos. Some owners of crystal stores are now ensuring they source ethical stones.

    Is it OK to buy crystals? ›

    It is relatively safe to buy crystals online, and you shouldn't go paranoid over getting a fake crystal. Yes, some retailers do sell fake, man-made crystals, but not all of them. It is always a good idea to know what you're looking for before purchasing crystals online and to be a bit educated about them.

    What is the meaning of ethical source? ›

    Ethically sourced means that products and services from each point of a business's supply chain are obtained in an ethical way, which includes upholding rights, decent working conditions, health and safety, good business ethics and more.

    Are Swarovski crystals ethical? ›

    While most of the world's non-renewable crystals and gems wreak environmental havoc and encourage civil unrest with dire consequences, Swarovski crystals have always abided by the highest of ethical and sustainability standards.

    Is gemstone mining bad for the environment? ›

    A study done by Laurence Scott at the University of Basel in Switzerland showed the impact of mining gemstones include water contamination, landscape destruction, soil erosion and soil loss, habitat loss, and many other detrimental impacts to the environment.

    Is quartz mining bad for the environment? ›

    When quartz is mined in its crystal form, its origin is hard to trace. Without proper precautions, quartz mining can contaminate the water supply, contribute to air pollution and more.

    What is a lab grown crystal? ›

    According to Slate, lab-grown crystals are still made from mined materials, but ones that would have been mined for other purposes anyway. In other words, even though synthetic crystals require natural ingredients, their production makes a much, much smaller impact on the environment than natural crystals.

    What is black moonstone? ›

    Black Moonstone is a variety of Moonstone that was recently discovered in Madagascar. It can be seen containing white, grey, brown and tan colors running throughout almost every piece.

    What is white moonstone? ›

    White moonstone is affiliated with the crown chakra for spiritual or psychic experiences. Women are sometimes recommended to remove moonstone during the full moon. This gem is an alternate birthstone for June, popular with Geminis and Cancers.

    Where are crystals sourced from? ›

    “'Healing crystals' are mined in places like Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo where mineral extraction is linked to severe human-rights violations and environmental harm.” In the DRC, seven-year-old children work in the cobalt and copper mines, where covetable “healing” stones such as citrine and smoky ...

    Where is rose quartz sourced? ›

    Much of the rose quartz that is sold today is produced in Brazil, South Africa, India, and Madagascar. Other sources include Namibia, Mozambique, and Sri Lanka. In the United States, a deposit near Custer, South Dakota once produced significant amounts of rose quartz.

    How much is the crystal industry worth? ›

    Today, it's a $1 billion+ industry, and continues to grow. Natural crystals and stones are in high demand and there's lots of money to be made in selling them.

    Are crystals vegan? ›

    Crystal is 100% vegan, which means none of their products contain any animal-derived ingredients.

    How long does it take the Earth to form crystals? ›

    The process can take as little as a few days to maybe a thousand years. Natural crystals that come from the Earth form the same way. These crystals were formed over a million years ago inside the Earth's crust. They occur when the liquid in the Earth consolidates and the temperature chills.

    Do crystals continue to grow? ›

    No, you are right. They won't continue to grow. They need to be kept in a supersaturated solution to grow. Solution means a lot, not just watery solution, they can grow in a melt or in a superheated "gas" (to hot to stay liquid not matter how high the pressure).

    How much do crystal miners make? ›

    The salaries of Quartz Miners in the US range from $30,880 to $70,360 , with a median salary of $48,550 . The middle 60% of Quartz Miners makes $48,550, with the top 80% making $70,360.

    Are crystals diamonds? ›

    With regard to their actual differences, foremost a diamond is formed as a result of highly pressurized carbon. It is also another type of crystal with the element carbon arranged in a tetrahedral crystalline fashion. However, crystals are minerals that come in various shapes, sizes and even colors.

    Are crystals precious stones? ›

    The main difference between crystal and gem is that a crystal is made up of atoms or ions arranged in a definite order and a definite structure while a gem is a mineral that is very precious and occurs only in a limited geographical area. A crystal may be called a gem while a gem would not be called a crystal.

    What does crystal mean biblically? ›

    "Crystal" is also used in the book of Revelation and describes parts of heaven. Crystal in the Bible is clear and transparent, like glass. We find that precious stones are also significant in the Bible, and they are mentioned as early as Genesis, chapter two. "

    Why do people buy rocks? ›

    People collect rocks for many reasons. They might enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or to feel connected to the specific locations. Professionals do it for monetary gain and prestige within the community. Others collect for a feeling of control, nostalgia, or simply to enjoy the beauty of their collection.

    What to do when you get crystals? ›

    Regularly cleansing and recharging your stones is the only way to restore your crystal to its natural state. This act of care can also reinvigorate your own sense of purpose. Read on to learn about some of the most common cleansing methods, how to align a crystal with your intention, and more.

    Is ethical sourcing good or bad? ›

    Ethical sourcing is critical to ensuring that workers globally are protected from unhygienic, unacceptable, unsafe, or exploitative working conditions. That is to say, workers should be paid a fair wage for their services and not be subject to a culture of fear or violence in the workplace.

    Do consumers really care about ethical products? ›

    More than six in ten younger consumers closely consider a company's ethical values and authenticity before buying their products, the research found.

    Why is it important to ethically source? ›

    Ethical sourcing ensures that products or services are obtained through responsible and sustainable methods. Ethical sourcing ensures that products or services are obtained through responsible and sustainable methods.

    Is Swarovski crystal mined? ›

    Swarovski is a brand name for a range of precision-cut crystal glass which is made only by its producers in Austria. They do not occur naturally in the Earth.

    How is Swarovski sustainable? ›

    Waste. By 2030, Swarovski plans to transform its own operations and become 90 percent landfill-free with at least 70 percent of waste being recycled or repurposed. In addition, the company is partnering with external experts to invest in sustainable innovations and aims to double its material efficiency by 2030.

    Are crystals natural? ›

    Most minerals occur naturally as crystals. Every crystal has an orderly, internal pattern of atoms, with a distinctive way of locking new atoms into that pattern to repeat it again and again.

    What are the most ethical stones? ›

    Here are our top 10 most ethical gemstones and their ethical sources.
    1. Diamonds in the Kimberley Process. ...
    2. Lab-grown Moissanite. ...
    3. Canadian Ammolite. ...
    4. Sri Lankan Sapphires. ...
    5. Small-scale Amethysts. ...
    6. Sustainable Pearls. ...
    7. Muzo Emeralds. ...
    8. Brazilian Citrine.
    29 Apr 2022

    Are gemstones more ethical than diamonds? ›

    Colored gemstones are an alternative to traditional diamonds, but they are not without their own ethical considerations. According to the GIA, colored gem mining and production is associated with child labor, forced labor, environmental destruction, and sometimes violence.

    Are gem stones sustainable? ›

    Inherently mining gemstones in principle are not truly sustainable- they are a limited resource. But there are ways to minimize harm to the environment. When mining operations are not thoughtfully designed, they can pollute air and water, erode soil, and destroy habitats.

    Is granite or quartz more eco-friendly? ›

    Quartz is more eco-friendly than granite

    Granite is a natural stone, but is porous and requires sealing with chemicals to minimize staining and etching. According to the EPA, granite may also off gas radioactive materials called radon.

    What is the difference between quartz and engineered quartz? ›

    Engineered quartz is also simply called quartz. But engineered quartz stone is not found naturally, but made from quartz crystals held together with a resin binder. This makes it possible to create a variety of different colors and patterns for you to choose from for your countertops.

    Are lab created gems fake? ›

    Also referred to as “synthetic,” lab-created gemstones are in fact real and genuine; just man-made instead of mined from the earth. Believe it or not, lab gemstones are chemically, physically and optically identical to their natural counterparts!

    How do you tell if a crystal is dyed? ›

    How to tell if a crystal has been dyed? If you are trying to ascertain if a crystal has been dyed or not, have a look at any cracks or marks within the crystal. Usually if they have been dyed there will be a build up of colour in these areas.

    How strong is moonstone? ›

    Moonstone falls between 6 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale. It also has poor toughness. Moonstone ranks 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.

    Is Labradorite and Moonstone the same? ›

    Labradorite is made from calcium sodium, while Moonstone is made of potassium sodium. This means that even though Labradorite and Moonstone have a lot in common, they are two very distinct minerals.

    What does GREY Moonstone mean? ›

    Throughout history, gray Moonstone has been synonymous with the Moon, good fortune, love, magic, protection, and wealth. It is the ultimate fertility and eroticism crystal, and wearing a gray Moonstone necklace during lovemaking at full Moon will harmonize the body into a natural lunar cycle.

    What does it mean when you lose a moonstone? ›

    If a crystal gets lost, or broken / damaged every time you use it, it could mean that the energy of that crystal is not compatible with your own energy. Energy is made up of particular vibrations and if they become too strong, it can cause damage.

    Who should wear moonstone? ›

    The moonstone is best suited for the zodiac sign, Cancer. It is considered as the master healer for women. It works towards enhancing the quality of Cancerians, especially those who are loyal and attached to their family.

    What chakra is moonstone? ›

    What chakra is Moonstone? The Moonstone is related to the higher chakras. It is linked to the crown chakra - our most important chakra for bigger picture thinking and connecting to the cosmos. It is also linked to our third eye chakra - the gateway to our inner wisdom and strengthening our intuition.

    What does ethically sourced mean? ›

    Ethically sourced means that products and services from each point of a business's supply chain are obtained in an ethical way, which includes upholding rights, decent working conditions, health and safety, good business ethics and more.

    Where are crystals sourced from? ›

    “'Healing crystals' are mined in places like Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo where mineral extraction is linked to severe human-rights violations and environmental harm.” In the DRC, seven-year-old children work in the cobalt and copper mines, where covetable “healing” stones such as citrine and smoky ...

    How do people mine crystals? ›

    The gemstones are usually extracted using a hydraulic suction stystem or a continuous-line bucket system. The latter is the preferred method and operates like a conveyor belt running from the sea floor to the surface where the ship or mining site extracts the desired gems and returns the trailings back to the ocean.

    What is a lab grown crystal? ›

    According to Slate, lab-grown crystals are still made from mined materials, but ones that would have been mined for other purposes anyway. In other words, even though synthetic crystals require natural ingredients, their production makes a much, much smaller impact on the environment than natural crystals.

    Is ethical sourcing good or bad? ›

    Ethical sourcing is critical to ensuring that workers globally are protected from unhygienic, unacceptable, unsafe, or exploitative working conditions. That is to say, workers should be paid a fair wage for their services and not be subject to a culture of fear or violence in the workplace.

    Do consumers really care about ethical products? ›

    More than six in ten younger consumers closely consider a company's ethical values and authenticity before buying their products, the research found.

    What does ethical mean simple? ›

    1 : involving questions of right and wrong : relating to ethics ethical issues. 2 : following accepted rules of behavior We expect ethical treatment of animals. ethical. adjective.

    Is it OK to buy crystals? ›

    It is relatively safe to buy crystals online, and you shouldn't go paranoid over getting a fake crystal. Yes, some retailers do sell fake, man-made crystals, but not all of them. It is always a good idea to know what you're looking for before purchasing crystals online and to be a bit educated about them.

    Are Swarovski crystals ethical? ›

    While most of the world's non-renewable crystals and gems wreak environmental havoc and encourage civil unrest with dire consequences, Swarovski crystals have always abided by the highest of ethical and sustainability standards.

    Which country has the most crystals? ›

    Gemstones
    GemLargest ProducerSecond Largest Producer
    FluoriteChinaMexico
    DiamondRussiaBotswana

    Is amethyst toxic? ›

    It is stable and mostly quartz, which everyone uses. While it might contain elements which could harm you, they don't. So it's not toxic.

    Is a crystal alive? ›

    Scientists typically describe crystals as "growing," even though they are not alive. In subterranean gardens, they branch and bristle as trillions of atoms connect in regular three-dimensional patterns.

    Is selling crystals profitable? ›

    But are they really making a profit? Yes: the market for healing crystals has never been bigger! Today, it's a $1 billion+ industry, and continues to grow. Natural crystals and stones are in high demand and there's lots of money to be made in selling them.

    Are lab created gems fake? ›

    Also referred to as “synthetic,” lab-created gemstones are in fact real and genuine; just man-made instead of mined from the earth. Believe it or not, lab gemstones are chemically, physically and optically identical to their natural counterparts!

    How do you tell if a crystal is dyed? ›

    How to tell if a crystal has been dyed? If you are trying to ascertain if a crystal has been dyed or not, have a look at any cracks or marks within the crystal. Usually if they have been dyed there will be a build up of colour in these areas.

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