Meredith Butler, the owner of Fool’s Gold in downtown Flagstaff, is trying to give locals a more ethically friendly source of clothing, art, jewelry and décor.
The genesis of Fool’s Gold started with Butler’s first business, Diamonds Are Evil, which she started in Texas in 2011. The business, which is a part of Fool’s Gold, uses wood to make more environmentally and conflict friendly jewelry.
The idea for Diamonds Are Evil came to her as she was studying architecture and learning to make jewelry in grad school. She fell in love with working with her hands and after working in the architecture industry for a few years, started making beautifully carved wooden jewelry at home and selling it online.
At the same time, she realized that many people didn’t know the history behind the diamond trade and the conflict it has caused in many parts of the world. She wanted to educate people about the diamond trade and give them an alternative to the typical diamond engagement ring.
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that have been mined in areas of Africa where wars are going on and the money from the sale of the diamonds has been used to fund the armies behind the wars. The issue came to the attention of the public around 2011/2012. Around that time, a number of diamond companies started using a certification process to prove to customers that their diamonds were not part of the conflict. But some customers had already started to look for something different that would set their jewelry apart.
During the 1920s, many women designed their own engagement rings because they had the time, most women didn’t work, and because they wanted something unique, Butler said. She wanted to bring that idea back and provide people with an alternative to diamonds.
Butler said at first a number of people thought the business was a protest group.
“Especially when we were at a trade show with a big banner that said ‘Diamonds Are Evil’ overhead,” she said.
But people started to catch on to the idea and many people who already knew of the problems behind conflict diamonds told her that they were glad that someone was trying to provide an alternative.
In 2016, Butler moved to the Flagstaff area. Looking to move Diamonds Are Evil out of her home, she and her partner opened the store “No Basis in Reality.” At the same time, Butler decided to branch out a bit and started carrying clothing, art and other home décor. Most of the art, jewelry and décor is made in house. Some of the items are made by friends of Butler. Other items like clothing are sourced from small businesses who have the same ethical concerns that Butler has.
All of the jewelry and art that Butler makes is made in a workshop at the back of the shop. She tries to use as much sustainably sourced or recycled materials as she can.
Butler and her partner moved the store to its current location on Leroux Street in May and changed the name to Fool’s Gold as a play on providing a beautiful alternative to clothing, jewelry and art that may not be ethically made.