Showing posts from December, 2007

Rubyvale: Lust for Dust

Here in Rubyvale, the lure of the sapphire is real. While the fabled el Dorado may have streets lined with gold, Rubyvale’s dusty pavements are littered with gems. “Here you go,” says Kym with a cultured tone not often found in the Australian outback. Her finely manicured hands load a fat pile of “wash” into my sieve with a rough, well-used shovel. This where my search for a sapphire begins; with a pile of dirty gravel. "Back in 1979, Smiley Nelson was walking home from school across the some of the fields mined by the big commercial operators,” says Tony, our guide, “and he kicked up a huge yellow sapphire weighing 2019 carats. It passed through a number of owners in the intervening years and I recently heard that it sold as a 1,400 carat, cut stone in New York for $1.2 million.” I take the sieve, about the size of a big Frisbee, and plunge it into a 44 gallon drum full of water, jiggling and bouncing it vigorously just below the surface. This action, I’m told, washes

Why Green is the New Black

Everywhere you turn lately, it seems, people are talking about climate change, global warming, carbon offsets and lower emissions. What’s fact and what’s fluff? Roderick Eime looks at the arguments. It would appear that even the most resistant critics have bent to the notion that the burning of fossil fuels is at least contributing to the climate change sweeping our planet. The jury is divided on whether it is the primary contributing cause or just part of an overall planet-wide cycle. Either way, pouring carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal and other greenhouse gases like methane and carbon monoxide is not helping matters. Agreed? Shop Your Way to Carbon Neutrality? Barney's, the trendiest of New York department stores, has heartily embraced environmental branding. It's a symbol of how chic environmentalism has become and how quickly causes can become trends. Do America's retail-entrenched society and notoriously "faddist" shoppers thi