Brand Partner Series: Meet Jean Wolfe, the Powerhouse Behind Our Ethically-Sourced Amethyst

ethical gemstones, ethical sourcing, sustainability - | by: Sarah Dizon Sowinski

Brand Partner Series: Meet Jean Wolfe, the Powerhouse Behind Our Ethically-Sourced Amethyst

 Jean Wolfe is the talented small-scale miner behind Alcazar Amethyst - our source for all the rough-cut amethyst we use for our jewellery at The Groggy Owl. To understand why having a brand partner like Jean is so amazing, I first need to explain the importance of sourcing gemstones ethically, and its challenges. 

Your 'Healing' Crystals Might Be Doing More Harm Than Good

With atrocities such as underage labour, low wages, unsafe health and safety conditions for workers, violence, as well as environmental and sustainability issues plaguing the gemstone and crystal industry, it is so important to be mindful of where your stones are coming from. Unlike with diamonds however, which has the Kimberley Process Certification System for example, (yet even this has problems), there is no standardized certification for what constitutes an ethically-sourced gemstone. 

What makes an ethically-sourced gemstone? 

"Ethical" is such a vague term, and can be used by anyone to mean a number of things. To make matters worse is the complicated and highly fragmented supply chains of the gemstone industry, which often makes tracking the gemstone from the mine all the way to the consumer challenging. I wrote a little bit more on the topic of ethical gemstone sourcing in this article

To summarize what I wrote in that article regarding what makes an ethically-sourced gemstone, I believe it must satisfy the following criteria:

  •  All workers involved in processes the stones must be paid a fair, living wage. This includes all workers involved in every stage of the supply chain. 
  • The working conditions must be safe for all the workers at all stages of the supply chain. This also means no children or underage workers are involved at any stage. 
  • There should be little to no negative environmental impact. 
  • People were not forcibly displaced off land due to mining activities. 
  • The stones should be conflict-free, which means it doesn't fund or fuel wars and violence.

Overall, the stones should not be tainted by any human rights violations or environmental harm. It should be free of violence, child-labour, poverty, community displacement, unsafe working conditions, and environmental destruction. 

Meet Jean Wolfe: Small-Scale Amethyst Miner Extraordinaire

Image used in quote banner courtesy of Jean Wolfe. Image is a photo of Jean mining amethyst in Northern Ontario. 

Amethyst from Jean Wolfe meets all of the above criteria for what I consider to be a truly ethically-sourced stone. Ethical sourcing means working with small-scale miners that aren't causing massive environmental destruction, and Jean fits that perfectly. I'm beyond thrilled that we exclusively source all our rough-cut amethyst from Jean.

My mom actually met Jean first, when she attended the Winona Peach Festival in 2018 as a guest. Jean was there as a vendor for the event. When my mom got home she was so excited to show me the bag of rough-cut and tumbled amethyst stones she purchased from her. "Sarah, you are going to love this person's shop! She mines all the amethyst herself! They're from Thunder Bay!" 

Despite using her amethyst stones in our jewellery for over a year since then, I was finally able to sit down and chat with her a few weeks ago. Over coffee she told me all about how she turned her love for "treasure hunting" into a business, and is completely self-taught. 

What makes Jean Wolfe and her amethyst so awesome: 

  •  She mines and processes the amethyst stones from start to finish herself! 
  • She mines all her amethyst from a small, family-run mine near Thunder Bay. I love that the amethyst from her is relatively local, and being from a small-scale mine, the environmental impact is minimal. 
  • She embraces the natural beauty of each stone - so they're not colour treated or enhanced. In expressing her love for natural amethyst, Jean says, "imperfections are not imperfections, but pure, unique and natural beauty."
  • She only goes up north to mine amethyst about once a year, and spends the rest of the year processing the stones. This model alone greatly reduces the footprint of the amethyst stones.  

Aside from the fact that her amethyst checks off all the boxes of my ethically-sourced gemstone criteria, Jean is a wonderful person to work with. She is so passionate about her craft. She takes so much time and care bringing out the natural beauty of Ontario amethyst. Jean explained to me that it takes about 50-80 days to process the stones. She is also a wealth of knowledge, and took time to explain to me the different stages of her process, as well as the physical properties of Canadian amethyst. Jean even let me hand-pick all the stones I purchased from her in person! She's amazing. 

If you would like to get in touch with Jean and shop both her amethyst and her own line of handmade jewellery, visit her page at Alcazar Amethyst. 

About the Author: Sarah Dizon Sowinski

A self-taught artist and jewellery maker, Sarah Dizon Sowinski is the founder, designer and maker behind The Groggy Owl. Sarah completed her BA in International Development Studies, where she focused on ethical business practices and social responsibility. She is currently working on a post-grad in Business and Human Resources, with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Related Posts

Why I Care About Ethically Sourcing Gemstones and Why You Should Too
Are your ‘healing crystals’ doing more harm than good? In many cases, yes.  I love rough-cut gemstones and crystals. ...
Read More