OK, so there is a lot of talk in the crystal world about whether a crystal is ëthically sourced" or not. In this writer's estimation, the whole term, "ethically sourced," is a bit of misnomer created as a marketing scheme, because the truth is, there is no fool proof, 100% way to ensure that a crystal has been "ethically mined" as there is no common consensus on what "ethically mined" means and no regulatory board to approve it as such. However, the term has played a positive roll in the industry in so far as it has got people asking some important questions around child labor, ethical extraction, ancillary enviormental impact and fair labor practices.
As the industry is unregulated and for all intents and purposes will continue to be so, it is important for each individual to ascertain what ethically sourced means to them and to adhere to that internal code if they wish to call their crystals "ethically mined." I for one, particularly being situated and sourcing my crystals from exclusively within Africa, where dubious labor and environmental practices can be rife, feel the pressure to do so.
So here is what ethically sourced means to me:
There has been no child or forced labor involved in the mining of the crystals.
The crystals have been extracted from the earth with an eye towards respect for the crystal and respect for the wider environment.
People are paid a living wage if they work for an employer that mines and sells to a wholesaler or that wholesalers are paying individual artisanal miners a fair amount for the crystals mined.
There are some things you can take for granted. If you think, "wow, this price is too good to be true," well, it probably is. The surest sign that a crystal has been "unethically mined", is if they can afford to sell it on the cheap, there has to be a reason why. Generally it is because someone earlier on in the supply chain has been treated unwell.
The fewer people in the supply chain the better the chance to be able to discern the mining practices employed. The best for a retailer is to have a few excellent wholesalers who buy directly from the source, the miners themselves. This makes it much easier to ensure that the crystals have been produced in a way that has met minimum ethical standards as outlined above. If a retailer does not know the original source of the material, it is impossible for them to say with certainty that the crystals have been mined ethically. It is ideal in this regard when a retailer can say the country and even the mine or region where the crystals come from.
Countries with dubious labor practices require that the supplier and retailer are even more cautious than they would be if the source is a country where labor practices and laws are well established and regulated, like the United States. One can pretty much assure that material mined in the US is a safe bet for having been ethically mined at least with regard to a concern such as child labor. Too bad most of the best crystals are coming from outside the United States! ;-) . If it is a country, like the Congo, a supplier would want to make sure it is from an established mine or an artisanal miner to ensure that it has been ethically sourced. Many people get their stock from China, because it is cheap......well, there is a reason it is cheap. This is not to say that ethically sourced material does not come out of China, because I am certain that it does, however, the ability to ascertain this as fact is much more difficult.
There are also countries where environmental factors need to be taken into account. Of noticeable import is the situation in Brazil.....where the rainforest is under such pervasive threat. There are so many beautiful crystals that come out of Brasil, but there are also many dubious mining practices where the rainforest is being harmed in some instances. One needs to ensure if sourcing from this and similar situations, that the environment is adequately cared for and that destructive practices are not being used to produce the crystal that ends up as the center of your spiritual or meditative practice.
So, is an "unethically sourced" crystal permanently damaged, less than or an emitter of bad juju? I don't believe so. I don't believe a crystal is inherently bad because it is unethically mined. Although there is the argument that anyone who handles a crystal imparts some level of their vibrational energy on the crystal, this can be cleared and a crystal can be utilized for all its intended purposes however it was mined. The real question is YOU. If you knew you could do something in a way that reinforces the values you hold personally.....do you do as Ghandi imparts when he said, "be the change you want to see in the world?" or do you turn a blind eye and reinforce a practice because it benefits you financially or otherwise? I believe it is far better, when incorporating crystals into a spiritual practice, and having knowledge that there are those that are ethically mined and those that are not, to do your best to incorporate those crystals who were derived in a manner in keeping with how you would have mined them yourself.