Ron Ringsrud's World of Emeralds
"One must speak clearly about clear stones... about ancestral rock... about the emerald's green fire." Ron Ringsrud's passion for the beauty of emeralds is infectious as he quotes Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, one of his favorite poets. Ron's soon-to-be-released "Emeralds: A Passionate Guide" (available late March through amazon.com) is a labor of love reflecting this passion. It will offer gems of knowledge "known only to connoisseurs and gemologists" as well as "the human side of the emerald world... revealed with all its romance, history, secrets and joy."
One of today's premier emerald dealers, Ron has just been elected to the Board of the American Gem Trade Association. "I've been a member for 15 years and want to participate more. Many good people are involved and we can bring a lot of progress."
A high priority on his agenda for progress is the promotion of the Fair Trade Movement. The blockbuster film "Blood Diamond" drew mainstream attention to Africa's "conflict diamonds"- diamonds used to finance violent, corrupt regimes while exploiting dirt-poor artisanal (small-scale) miners. Today's Fair Trade Movement reflects the burgeoning awareness of the need for world-wide transparent, ethical sources of production, including social justice - fair wages and a decent standard of living for the artisanal miner.
Regarding mining conditions, "Colombia at its worst is better than Africa at its best," according to Ron. "The people are poor, but not starving." The new breed of Colombian mine owners, often young MBAs, reflect a new social consciousness. "They are arranging buses to take the miners' children to school." Colombia has come a long way since the seedy "Wild West" days of the early 1980s. "2009 is to be the ‘Big Year of Pride and Progress.'"
Ron's love for his adopted second "home away from home" is obvious. "Colombians are a spiritual people - poets - the warmest, nicest people you'll ever meet. The stereotype of the Colombian drug lord actually reflects only the tiniest fraction of the population."
Ron's passion for the Land of Emeralds and its people is reflected in his strong commitment to local charities. Two of his favorites are a rehabilitation center for disadvantaged youth founded by a Catholic priest and The Theater Workshop in Bogota, which trains homeless "street people" for employment in the theater arts. "My local charity activities have helped me gain a good reputation in the region."
A cutting-edge development in the new environmental awareness is the idea of "giving back to the land." In this view, "the Earth is seen not as a resource for consumption, but as a natural, living thing that we should have stewardship over and respect for." Giving back to the land is an act of appreciation, an offering of thanks. Starting in 2000, Ron participated in a ceremony of emerald industry members in Bogota, sprinkling emeralds onto a tray of earth. Symbolically a gift was being offered back to the Earth for the immense treasures it provides. The experience was so positive, it has been repeated regularly and even expanded to the Colored Gem Show in Tucson AZ.
"Offering back to the Earth is based in ancient traditions," Ron reveals. Shinto priests in Japan would pray for the souls of the oysters destroyed in the pearl harvest. In Colombia, the native Cogi Indians of the Sierra Nevada believe we suffer sickness and pollution because we neglect to give back to the land. This newest wave of environmental awareness is a revival of ancient cultural roots. Offering thanks completes the circle.
Neruda's poem "The Emerald," inspired by a visit to the Colombian Muzo mine, is quoted on Ron's website (http://emeraldmine.com).
"When everything was high
there waited the cold emerald
it was a vigilant eye at heaven's center
the emerald that looked on
as if it were an ocean-eye
drop of God."
Expressing the awesome beauty of emeralds, the soul of a poet reflects the wisdom of the ages.
(image:Ring with a 3.25 carat Colombian emerald that Ron sold to Deja & Co. Jewelry in Saratoga. Stone is mounted in a white gold ring by JB Star. It was in their inventory for six months and was sold for around $25,000. Courtesy of Deja & Co. Jewelry. Photo by Robert Weldon.)