Passing my mining standards test

I went straight to the mine to learn how they mine and to be sure it was to my standards. Before purchasing, I analyzed the situation. Does it pass my mining standards test- ethically for the workers and ecologically for the land?

Overall they more than passed. There is always room for improvement and I'm already formulating ideas to further their safety and make the process easier, but none of my main concerns were here- no children were mining, there was ZERO environmental destruction and most importantly- these miners worked for themselves by choice. Not only that, but women were not only present, but in charge of business. This plus zero negative environmental impact made them pass with flying colors.

Picking Rough Gemstones

All sales and business conducted in Cambodia is done by women. They handle and are in charge of all cash. Here at the mine it was no different. 

Miners keep their largest gems for repeat customers and those who go straight to the mine. The quality is not sorted. It is up to the buyer to choose and guess. Highest risk yes, but also highest reward.

My gemologist explained it is like playing the lottery even the most trained eye cannot be sure of the final gem size and quality. A lot of it is sheer luck. 

Ecological Mining

I was surprised how little the landscape looked disturbed, they focus on one hole at a time to search for gems and refill it when done. Not one tree is removed, no water is wasted and no chemicals are used, there is no need.
 
They are farmers first, miners second.
 
These local miners work for themselves and are given permission to mine the land after their daily work.

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The Mines

The gemstones are found 15 meters into the earth. A hole about 3 feet wide is dug straight down. At that depth the soil is collected and sorted. This is all done with minimal tools and no electricity or water. After they are done, the hole is refilled.

They work in couples, as a husband and wife team. The husband  digs the hole, and descends into it to collect the dirt. Filling a bucket the wife rolls up and down into the hole. The dirt is then sorted through in search of gemstones.
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Road to the Gem Mines

With our gemologist and local guide (a previous gem cutter) to show us the way, we begin our 8 hour drive into rural Cambodia.


To the ONLY place in the WORLD with the Rare, sought after color I want, the home of the infamous Ratanakiri gemstones. 

We hiked through the forest over the rich, deep red soil into a rubber tree farm. In the distance we spot the miners working in between the rubber trees...

Thoughts along the 8 hour trek to the mines

I'm full of hope and anticipation. Will we get anything high quality? Is there ANY chance I can get a darker color that can be cut into my engagement ring?! Do I dare hope it can be cut in the shape I want? My hope is high but full of caution- chances are extremely low. Gem hunting is hard. As my gemologist guide explained, it's like playing the lottery- everything might suggest the rough is good, but you could get nothing. And you don't know what they'll have that day- it's A LOT of luck as well.

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Heading to the Mines!

Early morning travel for the BEST reason โ™ก  If you LOVE sapphires but wish they had the sparkle of a diamond, I have the perfect stone for you! I'm heading to the mines!

Specifically looking for the rare beauties with this description, need I say more? I'm choosing it over a diamond for my engagement ring and will be bringing back more for one of a kind custom orders.  Let me know if you'd like to see them! ๐Ÿ˜˜

My Engagement Ring

I know, I know. You're probably thinking what about the ENGAGEMENT RING?!? 

Being as perfect of a partner as he is, he knew how important it would be to me to have a piece that encompassed the same goals and values Liv & Lov has- a piece that was 100% traceable and ethical: "A Beautiful Story from the Earth to your Hand". We'll be sourcing the materials for my ring directly- starting with the stone. From the country we both fell in love with last year (and the stone that encompasses the country's spirit of hope and love that stole my heart)- YES! We're heading back to CAMBODIA!

Our journey starts November 2nd (Yep, less than a week away- eek!)

P.S. There's exciting news for you too! Cambodia has a great number of INCREDIBLE gemstones, so looking for a ethical custom piece straight from this magical place? Whether you'd also like this unbelievable rare blue gem or others- like Aquamarine and Amethyst- let me know! More details to follow tomorrow!

I hope you'll follow along <3 <3<3<ghfghgf<f

I'll be posting our journey on Here, Facebook & Instagram!

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Extra Special, Wonderful News!

Honestly, one of my favorite things about Liv & Lov is my customers- you supportive idealists with a great eye ;) and big, beautiful hearts, you truly are the BEST.

So I wanted to share with you first...

Sometimes you have to travel around the world and back to find the one. The one with the heart that you've searched all your life for. I feel so blessed and grateful to have found my home, my love and my best friend. Mike (that supportive, beautiful man that you've either seen or heard about these past 5 years) asked me to marry him. I said YES!

Here is a photo from our Engagement- Moon in Venice!

Holiday & GEM REVEAL Party!

Gem Reveal & Holiday Party
(invite only)

 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Grand Reveal: 6:30pm

Want to be on that list? Limited spots available! 
Email me to get one! 

Friday night is a special invite only event, where I will share images from my recent trip to South East Asia and reveal the stones I sourced from Cambodia! As the gems are so limited and many one of a kind, I want to give my followers the first choice of gems for custom jewelry. 

As well as a Holiday Show and Gem Reveal Party, it is a celebration of TWO huge achievements for Liv & Lov towards ethical sourcing- FAIRMINED Silver AND the yet to be revealed stones from Cambodia. Possible because of AWESOME Liv & Lov Silver Soldiers like YOU! 

I hope you can join me in celebrating! 

Email me at doraszekelydesigns@gmail.com if you'd like to grab a spot!


As well as travel photos/ stories and FIRST look at these GORGEOUS limited, directly sourced stones you'll enjoy champagne & Cambodian desserts!
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Liv & Lov always,

Dora

Hello from Cambodia (Video with Gem Clue!)

I looked at the Cambodian part of the trip as a place to be inspired- and I was. But it was SO much more ๐Ÿ’› I want to support and share the beauty of this country and of the people, and the best way I know how to is through jewelry. I decided to investigate the local gemstones here and what I discovered was WAY beyond my expectations. Here is my reaction shortly after and a clue to what I found:

Link to Video on Facebook (apologies it wouldn't embed on here!)

https://www.facebook.com/livandlov/videos/vb.260787503951184/1127501873946405/?type=2&theater

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Inspiring.

September 17th, 2015

A tiny sneak peek from Angkor Wat, Cambodia! To say this place is mind-boggling, incredible and inspiring are all such UNDERSTATEMENTS!

Most of the design elements are STILL used TODAY! As I always say- good design is timeless. So incredibly inspiring. Its what I strive for in every Liv & Lov jewelry piece and seeing it here in EVERY detail is incredible. Its part of why I fell in love with this country and whyโ€ฆ

I am SO excited I have the opportunity to bring a piece of this country back with me! ๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’Ž  

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Exciting News- I will be Sourcing Gems from Cambodia. Why?

September 20, 2015

Before I share exciting news for Liv & Lov from the Cambodia part of the trip, I'd like to share a few posts about why it had such an impression on me. I decided during my visit because of what I learned, felt and admired in the country and the people, their history, ancient and recent- to search for and create relationships to source there.

First Cambodia broke my heart.

The moment we entered the capital, Phnom Penh, I knew it would. It is a country rising from the ashes. A country of such beauty and creativity with a recent horrific history of genocide. Pol Pot's regime killed the creatives, the intellectuals and their entire families, emptying out entire cities. Eliminating 1/4 of Cambodians. I would have been a prime target- educated, a creative, someone who wears glasses and someone who speaks more than one language. Any ONE of those would have been enough. We visited the museum located at one of the torture centers and one of the killing fields, walking over bones that are still rising from the soil. We met a survivor whose sorrowful eyes immediately brought me to tears as his eyes locked with mine. I will not be posting any graphic photos out of respect for the lives lost but it is important to share what happened there. The goal of opening these places to the public (where these crimes against humanity occurred) is so we do not allow genocide to happen again. It is why the survivor speaks there everyday and why many survivors recorded their story- in order to educate the youth of today to stop genocide in the future. So many did not believe it was happening and did not help. It lasted nearly FOUR years without a country intervening because they did not believe it. I hope we join together to fight for humanity in the future.

It is a cultural tradition to have spirit houses for the deceased in Cambodia to wish them luck in their next lives. This was the one outside of one of the most disturbing mass graves- filled with women, children and babies.

Royal Palace in Cambodia

Obviously I needed to investigate the Royal Palace up close! This is one of the temples there. I felt like I was walking through a fairytale! To say the details were inspiring is an understatement ๐Ÿ˜

AND the mini replica in front is also a sneak peek of our next stop- the famous Angkor Wat! ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿ‘‘

Greetings from Phnom Penh, Cambodia!

September 14, 2015

Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I will have a separate blog about the country to do it justice. 

Currently I'm in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The view from outside our room (we lucked out!). So far the most interesting city I've seen and I've barely stepped foot in it. Read through one account of the history. Already shocked by this country and it appears that'll only get stronger.