The Open Source Initiative

Interview with Mike Angenent on issues with traceable melee diamonds and sapphires from Madagascar

MC: First, explain how you got involved in “Open Source.” What’s your personal background and what was the inspiration behind the project?

MA: Well, I am a goldsmith, gemologist, diamantair by profession and was always fascinated by the fact that you could trace a gemstone by its inclusions. 3 phase for Colombian emeralds, etc. I realized that my customers also liked to know this and where fascinated by the stories behind the jewellery piece, the whole process of how to make an exclusive piece of jewellery and the story about the gems and the diamonds.
MC: You went out on a quest for this material?

MA: Yes, when a friend of mine was in Madagascar, I decided to visit him and of course, look for nice gemstones. It was not my first visit to a third world country but still it hit me like a brick.

He showed me a complete color line of sapphires and I was sold. But, I also saw the reality of mining and how little to nothing was left to the people there. (One reason, and one that should be applauded, that the current government put a ban on the export of rough).

After my visit I was already playing with the idea of setting up a foundation to better tend the needs of the people involved in mining. Had I not had a house and obligations back home, I would have probably stayed and taught English.

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Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, a designer jewelry company, that sells eco-friendly, conflict free diamond jewelry and unique wedding rings online at Choyt also publishes, the most respected consumer and trade resource website on ethical sourcing and fair trade jewelry issues.