Jewelry and Gemstones! Some of my favorite materials to work with wrapped into one mind opening conference! Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference is dear to my heart because it's creating a community and culture in the jewelry industry that's transparent, ethical, and GLOBAL. Before this very moment have you ever asked yourself 'Where did my gemstone jewelry come from?'. You can probably figure out the jeweler who made your pieces but don't have a clue where your gemstones are from or what variety they are.
CRJC is working to inform us about techniques of mining for gemstones and precious metals as well as upholding a standard for how humans are treated in the process. The more we know, the better we can take action toward changing parts of the jewelry and gemstone industry that are harmful to people, their communities, and the earth. You'd be surprised how many people are designing jewelry with a completely transparent and responsible approach to sourcing materials. You'll be shocked to learn the evil ways MOST of the giant jewelry companies attain their gemstones available to consumers. Something must be done and WE ALL need to get involved to change this global issue.
What exactly can you do? Register for this conference and tune into as any of the events as possible!
This year the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference is completely VIRTUAL & FREE. YUP! Anyone can attend and I 110% advocate that you do attend, even if it's just to shop for gemstones to adorn yourself with. This is a chance to learn how we, on any aspect of the supply chain, play a part in how the jewelry industry evolves from here. This is the time for change. This is the time to learn something new. If you have any interest I encourage you to register and listen to all the perspectives offered to you during the conference.
CRJC starts on Monday November 9 with a gemstone fair and boutique and ends November 13. There are presentations from a plethora of people involved with different aspects of the jewelry chain from all over the world. You can shop for gemstones that are responsibly sourced. On Tuesday November 10 you can ask a miner anything and learn about how the Diamond industry has changed and what still needs work. On Wednesday November 11 you can learn about Indigenous Land Rights and Large Scale Mining. On Thursday November 12 you can hear responsible designers speak about their process and experience in the industry. These are just a few specific examples of talks and panels that are included in the conference that I'm excited to tune into.
So the conference is amazing. Still looking for reasons to register? I've got another. The founder Susan Wheeler is a bad ass. Her jewelry is leading by example in Responsible Design. She is setting the standard for how jewelry should be created, from start to finish and cares enough to share her passions for gemstones, metals and jewelry with the world by creating a conference where we can connect with people involved in the industry across the globe. That is no small feat. Susan is cultivating a new jewelry community and calling out evil in the industry that is fighting incredibly hard to stay hidden. Her designs are elegant, colorful and thoughtful. If you are lucky enough to adorn yourself with her creations you're supporting a pillar of positive change in the world.
That being said, if you can contribute financially to the conference, you'd be supporting the spread of positive change in the jewelry industry and supply chain on a global level. Something as simple as a donation to CRJC has a huge impact. If you can donate, DO IT! You can even write it off on your taxes! I had the opportunity to photograph the conference two years in a row and it changed my life completely. It inspired me to prioritize being more responsible as a jewelry designer. It reminded me to care and think about more than external beauty. True beauty in jewelry comes from thoughtfulness that goes into sourcing gemstones and metals more than the design.
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About the Author & Artist
Megan LaCroix also known as Citrine is the daughter of a Navy Veteran. She’s lived all over the US but has roots in Michigan where her family is from. Spending summers in Northern Michigan exploring nature inspired her to create art work starting with jewelry and photography. She’d spend hours looking for rocks and creating assorted beaded jewelry with her sisters. In 2014 She graduated from University of Michigan School of Art & Design with a BFA then moved to Detroit where she is currently living and working. She is a multi-media artist with ever expanding skills but is best known for her jewelry, screen printing, photography, and paintings. Detroit Graffiti has a significant influence on her painting and drawing style. She’s participated in ArtPrize 2015 & 2021 and currently has a studio in the Village Arts Factory of Canton, MI.