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Ethical in Action Design Contest/Fundraiser Launched

It’s an invitational design challenge which will culminate in an auction benefitting three organizations.

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(PRESS RELEASE) VANCOUVER, WA — Towards the beginning of summer Susan Fauman, owner and sole metalsmith of Susan Fauman Jewelry, was starting to think more deeply about how to be more responsible and “ethical” in her studio practice and business. Considering herself an independent “bridge” jeweler she – and many other makers like her – use stones that are more organic in shape, untraditionally cut, included, and… untraceable. She reached out to Eric Braunwart, owner of Columbia Gem House, to ask few questions. Eric generously gave her a few hours of his time, sharing many of the insights he has gained from decades in the industry, most of which have been in the service of advocating for community and worker’s rights and safe working conditions across the globe where his company operates.

That initial conversation turned into the many more conversations she had with Sabrina Hoffman, another maker and owner of Dally+Toil, who also works inside Columbia Gem House. Together, they hatched a plan for attempting to raise more awareness, in detail, across the industry and to consumers alike about the problems of human exploitation that affects gems and jewelry.

This gave birth to an Instagram account @ethical_in_action and their inaugural project: an invitational design challenge which will culminate in an auction benefitting three organizations devoted to increasing access to justice and equity in the jewelry industry. Columbia Gem House generously provided gemstones to 25 total designers who will contribute their time and metalsmithing skills to the cause. Starting on Thanksgiving, there will be a battle-style bracket vote through the stories on @columbiagemhouse, where the winner will win a 250$ gift card and 2 runner up 100 gift cards , to Columbia Gem House. Not only will it give a sneak peak at the pieces, this is a challenge after all, so there must be a winner. Then, starting on Giving Tuesday, the pieces will be posted on @ethical_in_action with information and backstory on pieces and designers for review. The auction will be held on that account from December 4 – December 6. Make sure to follow along, aside from a good cause, there are some great metal smiths involved.

The three organizations this will benefit are as follows:

  • We Wield The Hammer – Focuses on representation and support of women and girls of African descent in becoming skilled at metal fabrication, along with extending the program to Senegal, Dakar.
  • Peoples Training and Research Center – Focuses on justice to victims of occupational (including gem and jewelry industry) and other fatal diseases in India through various activities.
  • Bonded Labour Liberation Front – Focuses on addressing bonded and child labor issues by carrying out awareness campaigns, organizing regional and national seminars and partners with international organizations to combat modern slavery, injustice, illiteracy, inequality, and poverty in South Asia.

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