Fox Mine turquoise, onyx, vintage frangia coral, vintage coral pendant.
Bronzite and vintage frangia coral.

Bronzite, mookaite and citrine.

Bronzite, mookaite, and jasper pendant with gold keishi pearls and onyx.

The mix
It is not easy to be frivolous in today’s economy. It is almost impossible for evolving greenies to think of the implications of rampant consumerism. As a part time jewelry designer, I have struggled with the matter of adding non essentials to a world already clogged with the flotsam of acquisitive societies. Then, I agonized over the materials I use to make jewelry. For example, how were the gemstones mined, were workers exploited in order to produce the gemstones I buy? Is it ethical to use pre-ban ivory and vintage coral? I worried about the political prisoners who process Chinese gemstones and the Myanmar jade miners who allegedly live in squalor and whose wages are paid in opium. I reached such a pitch of moral indignation that a friend commented, only half facetiously, that I would soon have to limit myself to digging up rocks from my yard and smelting my own metal in order to make sure that no one but I suffered in the process.
My friend was right. Moral indignation is all very well, but I cannot allow it to paralyse me. Jewelry does not exist to solve global problems. Rather, it exists to satisfy the ancient urge for adornment. This seemingly frivolous urge will not go away if I take myself too seriously. People will buy jewelry whether I make or not. Ergical people will try to find out whether the product they buy was made under conditions that caused damage to people and to the ecology. In this, as in most situations, what I need to do is take the middle ground. I will not buy Burma jade, but will I have to take in trust that Canadian jade miners are reasonably well treated. I will not buy so-called crystal –read glass–beads from China unless I know that the workers who made them were issued the shields and respirators that protect their eyes and lungs. I can do much of the basic silversmithing needed to produce findings–the doodads required to put a piece of jewelry together, i.e. , head pins, jump rings and the like. It is highly unlikely that a Balinese silversmith will loose his job as a consequence. Naturally, as a First World worker I demand higher payment than the downtrodden masses of the Third World. My clients take that into consideration.
That is not surprising. Americans usually pay well for skilled work when required to do so. I charge twenty eight dollars an hour to to repair work–my contention is that I can turn out a new piece of jewelry worth 300 dollars within the same time frame. Plus, that was the going rate five years ago. So far none of my clients has complained. True, their number is minuscule since I do not advertise or do any of the fancy marketing required to “grow a business.” I work at home except for doing a small number of shows in the metropolitan DC area. I make my own schedule. I have the luxury of being able to respect my work, frivolous or not. That is what I call happiness.

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