For the last two weeks on Radio 4 there have been two Reith lectures given by Aung San Suu Kyi. Su Kyi is the prominent pro-democracy leader in Burma and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The lectures were extremely interesting, not least because it’s the first time she has been allowed to broadcast abroad since her house arrest in 1989, and subsequent release in 2010.
Listening to her speak and explain her actions and those of her fellow protestors reminded me of why I will not sell or buy any jade, pearls, rubies or sapphires from Burma. Burma is extremely rich in these resources but none of the money from their trade goes to the people of the country. Instead, as with conflict diamonds, the revenue raised benefits the military who are oppressing their people.
In the past NGOs and aids organisations have told tourists to stay away from the country. In her lecture Suu Kyi said that the country would now welcome tourism as long as the tourists that do visit Burma do not stay in government-run hotels. Her party are trying to make up a list for tourists so that any money they spend whilst visiting goes straight to the local people. It’s a small action for one holidaymaker but an important one.
These are difficult issues and the UK certainly doesn’t have clean hands when it comes to oppression. However, we all want a better world, and we all have to try and do our bit no matter how small it seems to be. Not trading in these resources and not using Burmese stones in my jewellery designs is mine.
Social, environmental and ethical responsibility is an important issue to me – as the owner of my own luxury jewellery label and as a human being who thinks about sustainability and our future generations. I have taken and continue to take steps towards improving and sustaining our working environment and through close work with our supply chain can continue to offer my customers a greater level of transparency in terms of my business and where the materials used to create my designs have come from. My overall aim is to create innovative handcrafted luxury jewellery designs whilst running a responsible company that I would be proud to shop in.
Here you can read more about Stephen Einhorn’s company policy on responsible sourcing and materials (including conflict free diamonds).