The world celebrates Earth Day on April 22nd. This yearly celebration raises awareness for the environment’s struggles, and calls people to action so we can protect the only world we’ve got. Lectures and articles only go so far: Experts and non-profits take this as an opportunity to suggest alternatives and get people inspired into striving for greener lifestyles.
No detail is too small to go green: from food and household items to clothing and accessories. We can make eco-friendly choices every day when we get ready to leave the house, starting with green jewelry.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
To keep it simple, remember the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. With that as a framework, you can easily alter your preferences. It’s easy to make green choices such as switching from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, paying attention to excessive packaging, avoiding the use of toxic ingredients, and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.
But what about our luxury items? We don’t want to look drab and miserable while keeping our world green. We all need that bit of glamour every once in awhile, but searching for eco-friendly jewelry feels like an exercise in futility. Heck, just saying eco-friendly jewelry is already an oxymoron. Or is it?
Is There Such A Thing as Green Jewelry?
All naturally-occurring jewelry materials come from mining. Mining – whether large scale or small scale – is a destructive process. Centuries, decades, or even only years of mining leave open pits or barren mountains in their wake. Mining methods also cause chemicals to leach into the ground and water systems, affecting local access to fresh water.
Often, communities in the surrounding areas are left alone to deal with the ecological effects. With 70 percent of jewelry materials coming from developing countries, ethical questions start to come up. Jewelry like engagement rings and wedding bands are emotional purchases, so why taint them with unethical choices?
Fortunately, there are traders and jewelers who know what’s more important than cold, hard cash. Through systems such as the Kimberly Process, retailers can trace and provide proof on the ethical standards of their diamonds, ensuring ethical and sustainable fine jewelry.
There’s also a growing concern for mercury pollution caused by small-scale gold mining. Gold is extracted from the ores through mercury-gold amalgamation. This method is deadly, as it requires burning mercury, and it contributes to mercury pollution in the air and water, which affects human populations and the ecological community alike. Thankfully, an international treaty went into place in 2017, ensuring that mining companies can only use mercury-free methods to obtain gold.
As consumers, there are ways you can ensure that you only buy ethical and sustainable jewelry. Start again with the environmentalist mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Reduce the demand of gold by reconditioning old pieces
- Reuse old jewelry: vintage pieces are stylish and full of elegance
- Recycle gold, platinum, and other precious metals into new jewelry.
Finally, don’t be too shy to ask your jeweler. An eco-conscious jeweler is happy to walk you through the process of choosing ethical, green jewelry, and equally pleased to give you information of the origins of their metals and diamonds.
Some tips when purchasing diamonds:
- Check for a laser-engraved serial number. This is a more solid proof of a diamond’s origins, and instantly promises that it is conflict-free.
- Ensure that it came from a country with fair labor practices and was mined under strict environmental policies.
More than a trend, concern for the environment is a worthy cause. The demand for resources puts a strain on the planet, and sooner or later, we’ll have to deal with its repercussions, so it’s best to address this demand now with every aspect of our lifestyles, even when it comes to luxury consumption such as fine jewelry. The road towards green jewelry is long, but with global efforts, consumer awareness, and determination, we’ll get there.