I guess I was a little obtuse in my post. I wasn't suggesting (on
a forum for jewelers, not consumers, mind) a boycott by consumers
of natural coral jewelry; I was suggesting that we, as designers,
might want to consider no longer using coral at all.
To me, that still sounds like a boycott, just on the wholesale
rather than the retail level. A boycott can be an effective tactic in
certain circumstances, but I don’t think this is one of them.
You seem to be suggesting that this coral is under threat by all
sorts of things except jewelers.
I was saying that it’s under threat by all sorts of things including
people who collect it to sell to the jewelry trade. But it’s
jewelers who are in the best position to do something proactive about
it. Merely dropping it from the list of materials we deal with isn’t
likely to save any species, though.
If you want to go with that, fine by me. But for everyone else
please consider: at one point ivory was considered to be the only
suitable material to make piano keys.
There are very few materials we use - as jewelers or in our daily
lives - that are extracted and distributed without any adverse
environmental impact. Mining for precious metals and stones requires
the shifting of huge amounts of material, and a certain amount of
environmental destruction as a consequence. But instead of throwing
up our hands and restricting ourselves to making jewelry out of old
tires or whatever, we can use our power as consumers to push for
effective regulations that will rein in the worst excesses. The
campaign against “blood diamonds” is a good example of a situation
where collective action above and beyond a boycott strategy can have
an effect on public policy, in this case leading to the Kimberley
Process and various national laws which have proved fairly effective
in keeping these stones from financing civil wars.
As for the ivory trade, it wasn’t a consumer boycott that stopped
it, but an international treaty - something that has not been applied
to the trade in coral. That ban has been hailed as a success, but
it’s only a partial one - populations of elephants have continued to
decline in many countries post-ban, due largely to the disruption of
civil wars, habitat loss as wildlands have been converted to
agriculture, endemic corruption, and the presence of unregulated
markets for ivory. In countries where markets are well-regulated and
the income from ivory sales and tourism has funded conservation
programs, elephant populations have generally increased, to the point
where this success has been noted by the international convention
(CITES) and some limited sales from these countries’ ivory stockpiles
have been allowed to proceed. This is an encouraging development,
that may someday lead to a renewed supply of another beautiful
natural material from sustainable sources. If you’d like to read more
about this issue, here’s a good article on the subject: