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Chalcedony Journeys

The fair-trade stones in our new jewelry have come a long way indeed

We’re proud to feature semiprecious stones in our new jewelry collections that are all certified fair trade by our partners at Columbia Gem House. Leaders in responsible sourcing, CGH works with a network of mines and polishing facilities around the world to ensure that the stones it delivers are as ethically sourced as they are beautiful. Here’s the story of one CGH stone, luminous blue-ice chalcedony.

The Mine

Treasures lie under the dry hills of eastern Oregon, at the Polkadot Mine. With a view of Mount Hood in the distance, Dale Hewitt of West Coast Mining uses excavators to scrape the earth’s surface, breaking large chunks of quartz into small boulders.

 

The Rocks

Each boulder is then broken open, revealing the character of the stone inside: milky white, black, gold, and—hopefully—flashes of blue. (This mine is known for its gems’ vivid variations of color.) Hewitt and team select the best specimens—whose unique, impossible-to-replicate patterns testify to their authenticity—to be sent onward, to the experts at Columbia Gem House.

 

The Polishing

When the rough chalcedony chunks arrive at CGH, they acquire an inventory number that traces them back to the Polkadot Mine. After getting hammered (or “cobbed”) to remove broken or cracked edges, the now smaller, more appealing stones next get shipped to a high-tech facility in Shenzen, China. At this workshop, excellent working conditions result in cut and polished gemstones of exceptional quality.

 

The Result

Dusty rocks have now become delicate oval cabochons, ready for setting in carefully made metal mesh chains inspired by an ancient Greek jewelry set in The Met collection. The subtle, enchanting color of the stones prove that these gems are mined, and never dyed. And this alluring quality makes the pieces in the Hellenistic Cabochon Collection make any wearer feel a little more glamorous.

Shop more fair-trade jewelry at store.metmuseum.org.

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