By Brecken Branstrator
The @ethical_in_action Instagram account has launched a bracket-style design competition that will end in an auction to benefit three organizations fighting for the rights of those working in gems and jewelry.
Vancouver, Wash.—A new initiative aims to educate industry businesses on responsible practices, and the mission of its first project is to address some negative aspects of the trade.

At the beginning of the summer, Susan Fauman, owner of and metalsmith behind Susan Fauman Jewelry, was diving deeper into how she could be more responsible in her business.

She reached out to Eric Braunwart of Columbia Gem House, a leader in the area who has made it a focus of his business for decades, with questions.

After hours of picking his brain and learning from his insights into advocating for human rights and safe working conditions, the discussion led to many more with Sabrina Hoffman, maker and owner of Dally + Toil.

Together, Fauman and Hoffman created a plan to raise awareness both in the industry and among consumers about the problems that exist in the world of gems and jewelry.

What resulted was the Instagram account @ethical_in_action, designed to be a space to learn about ethical and responsible practices and materials.

They also created the initiative’s inaugural project—a design challenge that will culminate in an auction to benefit three organizations focused on justice and equity in the jewelry industry.

They enlisted 25 designers, who have donated their time and metalsmithing skills to the cause.

Washington-based Columbia Gem House also got in on the project, providing gemstones to the participating designers. Everyone received a turquoise and chalcedony accent stone (as seen in the post below) as well as a variation on the sapphire slice.

(The Instagram caption also includes the list of participating metalsmiths.)

The minimum requirement was to use the sapphire slice.

Starting on Thanksgiving, the initiative held a “battle-style bracket vote” through Columbia Gem House’s Instagram account.

They started by posting everyone’s pieces that day, followed by the first head-to-head on Friday during which followers voted through the poll feature in Instagram Stories.

Votes were held again Saturday and Sunday, with the latter resulting in one winner and two runners up.

The winners will be announced on the Columbia Gem House page today (Nov. 30).

The winner will receive a $250 gift card to Columbia Gem House and two runners-up will each get $100 gift cards.

Tomorrow (Dec. 1), which is Giving Tuesday, the creations will be posted on @ethical_in_action along with information and backstories of both the pieces and the designers behind them.

The auction will follow on the account from Dec. 4-6.

The three organizations benefitting from Ethical in Action will be We Wield the Hammer, a metalsmithing program for women and girls of African descent; the Peoples Training and Research Center, an organization focused on improving worker health and safety in India; and the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, which works toward the total eradication of bonded labor, injustice, illiteracy, inequality and poverty in South Asia.

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