Professional Jeweler Archive: Do One Little Thing

August 2004

Adventures in Retailing

Do One Little Thing

Contribute to the Jewelers' Burma Relief Project

Many news stories, some rather grim, have tied the jewelry industry to issues of social and environmental concern. The number of examples can make you feel overwhelmed and powerless.

But we are not powerless. In fact, we are very fortunate. Our industry, which has been linked to so many troubles, is also in a remarkable position to accomplish a great deal of good. As individuals, we must realize we can make a difference no matter how small.

Whether we work for a cartel or an independent jewelry store, the choices we make as members of the jewelry community affect many unseen people in countries around the globe. It is our duty as members of this community to act in a manner that shows responsibility and concern for all those individuals and the lands in which they live.

Take the situation in Burma, for instance. A year ago, the U.S. government formalized trade sanctions against an illegal and brutal government. Since then there have been many arguments, especially in the gem community, in favor of and in opposition to the ban on Burmese products, including gemstones. Regardless of whether we believe formal sanctions are a benefit or a bane, we can do something apolitical to help the people of Burma. [Editors Note: The ruling military regime changed the country’s name to Myanmar in 1989. Some countries, including the U.S., do not recognize that name or the regime.]

Several members of the jewelry industry have joined together to organize a project that offers aid to those whose land and labor has offered our industry so very much. The Jewelers’ Burma Relief Project is an industry-led effort raising money for the Foundation for the People of Burma, a San Francisco-based organization providing direct assistance with medical, educational and micro-business development in the country.

One of the programs we are focusing on is an orphanage in Kyaikto, about four hours from Rangoon, the capital. While continuing to raise money to help with nutritional and sanitation needs, we are working to find donors to build a dormitory because the orphans live in housing conditions unimaginable by our standards.

This project is just one example of what we as an industry can accomplish. Whether it is through humanitarian efforts, the development of fair-trade gemstone initiatives or the support of eco-sensitive mining, we all can begin to make a difference within our industry and as an industry.

I end with folk singer Pete Seeger: “If there’s a human race here in a hundred years, it won’t be any big thing that will save it – a big slogan, a big movement, a big organization of any kind. It’ll be saved by literally hundreds of millions of little things going on.”

Let us each start with one little thing.

By Brian Leber

Brian Leber founded the Jewelers’ Burma Relief Project and is president of Leber Jeweler, Western Springs, IL; info@

To donate to the Jewelers’ Burma Relief Project, write a check to the Foundation for the People of Burma/JBRP, 900 Montgomery St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94133; (415) 486-6527.

Jewelers can help children oppressed by a brutal government through the Jewelers’ Burma Relief Project.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications