Grant Conner is something of a reverse alchemist.
Rather than trying to turn everything into gold, Conner wants to turn gold into water for people in need around the world. Grant, a fourth-generation family jeweler with Orocal, who now runs Nuggets by Grant, grew up in the business. Conner knows the miners personally and the jewelry manufacturing process, and he sees room for improvement.
Not only does he want to end the waste of water particularly during the mining and jewelry manufacturing process, he wants to help solve the world water crisis.
"I had a dream about the water crisis,” he said. "I found out about an organization called ‘Charity Water’ through Scott Harrisons book ‘Thirst’ and realized I could join the effort by applying Scott’s ideas to an industry I know well: jewelry. I figured if Jesus could turn water into wine, the jewelry industry can turn gold into water.”
Conner cites a 2010 United Nations Resolution recognizing that access to clean water is a basic human right and that "clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.”
Charity Water, one of Conner’s inspirations, is a group dedicated to solving the world’s clean water crisis and getting clean water to the more than one billion people without access to it.
"I had this in my heart maybe about six years ago,” Conner said. "I knew I wanted to help with clean water. I really didn’t know what would transpire.”
Conner’s first clean water project involved a village of 400 people in Peru where he helped 60 families in the Amazon Basin, a remote area that took three days by boat to reach.
"I sent them a water filtration device and replacement filters because they told me not one person in the village had lived past age 40 due to parasites in their water supply,” he said. "This was my first project, but it was expensive on my own, which made me think about getting the entire jewelry industry involved.”
As a result, Conner’s passion has sparked a new initiative among jewelry manufacturers, jewelry retail stores, and their customers. Conner’s efforts, outlined in his website, goldintowater.com, provides a means to help people in remote, poor and arid areas access clean, fresh water and a common voice for those in the jewelry industry to actively participate in the effort.
One percent off all participating Gold Into Water retail partner jewelry sales is donated to clean water initiatives. The stores get a tax write-off when they donate. In turn, jewelry manufacturers reimburse a portion of the cost of manufacturing and price of precious metals.
Now, consumers can align their purchases with mission-driven causes and buy from "trusted” retailers who are doing something to help those in need of water.
"Getting the entire supply chain involved is making a huge financial impact,” says Conner.
So far there are eleven stores supporting the project in Alaska, and Conner has raised about $60,000 for Gold Into Water.
"I wanted to make sure this would work so I can duplicate it and make it a model for other people in the jewelry industry,” Conner said. "I truly believe it’s going to help them and help the retail shops when they give and make people aware of the project.”
Meanwhile, Conner, as president and CEO of Nuggets By Grant, recently sold a 118-ounce nugget and plans to give 26 percent of the proceeds to Gold Into Water.
"We’re going to provide water to an entire village,” he said. "On top of Nuggets by Grant, I’m leading the way on giving.”
For now, that path leads to the success of Gold Into Water and to bringing clean water to the world. When the United Nations resolution called clean, accessible water a basic human right, Conner knew that is where his path would deliver him.
"We are definitely working to fulfill that goal,” Conner said.