Antananarivo, Madagascar – (African Boulevard News) – Regarded as the world’s largest sapphire supplier, Madagascar is a major source of fine gems since their discovery in the late 1990s. However, the sapphire mines in this African country are now exposing the hollow ethical claims of some jewellery firms.
Luxury groups such as LVMH and Richemont have committed to traceability and sustainability in the supply chains of their coloured stone jewellery. However, the sincere implementation of the promises is questionable, as evidenced by the hundreds of artisanal miners in Madagascar, working in hazardous and inhumane conditions to supply large companies with coveted sapphires.
According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, about 70% of Madagascar’s sapphires are mined by hand, creating a high risk of labor exploitation, child labor, and environmental damage. Artisanal mining has led to the loss of land and degradation of water sources, leaving local communities exposed to poverty and disease.
Expert geologist, Charles McManus, pointed out that “it is not enough to address supply-chain transparency alone.” The root cause of the exploitation in the sapphire mines is the extreme poverty in Madagascar, which forces individuals to engage in dangerous work to feed their families.
The paradox of the situation is clear; jewelry companies market their products as luxury items, yet, their supply chains are filled with exploitation and inhumane practices. When asked about their commitment to ethical sourcing, Richemont stated that “it is the responsibility of every member of the gem and jewelry industry,” highlighting the need for collective action to address the matter.
In conclusion, the Madagascar sapphire mine exposes the hypocrisy of some jewelry firms’ ethical claims. Luxurious jewelry with natural gems should not be the result of a process that damages the environment, exploits workers, and hinders sustainable development. Consumers have the power to demand accountability and transparency from these companies, and industry stakeholders must ensure that ethical standards are upheld and reinforced.