Out of all objects in my life I have the most sentimental feelings towards my jewelry. It took me quite many years to realize that I’m simply just not a ‘jewelry person’ as in, I almost never coordinate my jewelry to my outfits, don’t like wearing them and feel like an unneccesary burden to put on in the morning. So eventually I stopped buying them, but this has taken me about 10 years to realize. Yes, I might be a slow learner.
Instead of decorative value jewelry has a really strong sentimental value for me. This necklace has been on me since I was 16. It has a broken clasp, has been like that for more than 15 years but I refuse to give it up even for that day or two to get it fixed.
The ring that I wear on my middle finger has been there since I left to study in the States. I’m pretty sure it will eventually break off it has gotten so thin over the years.
My anklet was given to me by my Grandfather a couple of years before he died. Each year as the weather gets warm enough to wear sandals I put them on and wear it until late fall. If I travel to a warm climate during the cold months I also put them on. This is my small summer ritual. 🙂
I was somewhat aware that gold is bad, but thought that since I don’t buy fashion jewelry and very loyal to these that were gifted to me I’m making an eco-conscios choice with this minimalist approach. Well, I was wrong…
The impact of precious metals and stones
To assess all the negative effects of jewelry production could fill a book, so I will just summarize the main areas before this post gets too long. Raw materials used for gold/silver/platinum jewelry are exploited via mining practises destroying hundreds of tons of rock. It harms not only the landscape but also natural habitats of animals and full ecosystems. If even one species disappears from the territory because the environment is not suitable for them anymore could effect the balance of the whole ecosystem and eventually the local people as well. Mining contaminates the water supplies both surface water like rivers and groundwater as well. These often happen in areas on the world where water is already very scarce. Mining is among the top causes globally of cyanide and mercury poisoning in our rivers and if you think that this is the problem of remote areas let me explain that in the past two decades there have been major oil spills in Romania, China, Russia as well as in Canada destroying the water supply of millions.
When we talk about “ethical jewelry” the following criteria have to be examined to determine the fairness of it.
Traceability: If your vendor knows exactly where the material is coming from its a good sign that they pay attention to the impact of the manufacturing not only the profits.
Transparency: It refers to the economics related to gold trading. In the best case scenario practises were used during the process to benefit local communities instead of large corporations.
Social Impact: It is also important to consider how the mining affects local communities. Mining could mean a way out from poverty instead of causing it.
Environmental Impact: All mining is harmful for the environment but while large-scale mining breaks 150 tons of rock to get an ounce of gold, small-scale can do it in 1 ton.
In reality most of the gold is “open market” or “recycled gold” both of them provide little or no information on the origin, however a “fair trade” certification is available for gold as well, neadless to say it comes with a pricetag.
Part 2: Ethical stones – do they exist?