Everything About MAKING A difference, FROM MINE TO MARKET - Jewelry,
retail jewelry ...
"I love you" like a diamond and gold ring; after all,
diamonds are forever - or so we are led to believe. The gemstones and
precious metals we adorn ourselves with don't just pack a wallop on
our wallets, but many jewelry pieces also come at a horrible cost to
has been an attraction for humanity for millennia, the market for
precious stones and metals has certainly increased over the last
hundred years; thanks not just to their extensive use in industry,
but also to clever marketing.
did you know that wedding rings for men in western culture are a
tradition born of the 20th century and the company that created that
"tradition", De Beers, is also the same company that has
convinced us that a gift of diamonds equates to love? In the late
1930's De Beers increased sales of diamonds by 55 percent over three
years by instilling this notion in people's minds. They were also the
company that coined the term "diamonds are forever".
does the purchase of that half carat diamond ring prove your love for
someone? How does that differ from a beautiful colored glass piece?
In my opinion, in no way at all - it's just that the jewelry industry
has convinced us otherwise.
have always been appreciated, they weren't necessarily the most
prized of gems. In fact, the ancient Egyptians often favored colored
glass over precious stones.
massed produced gemstone based jewelry is certainly not a financial
investment either - diamond rings are like new cars; once you
purchase the ring, it loses value. If you've ever tried to sell a
diamond ring, unless it was particularly unique or it was purchased
many years ago, the chances are you'll never get what you paid for it.
Looking at it
from an environmental angle; the gemstone and precious metals
industries destroys thousands of acres of habitat each year. In some
mining and refining processes, toxic chemicals are used. For
instance, the amount of mercury entering the environment from gold
mining activities is estimated to be in the hundreds of tons
annually. Cyanide is another commonly used toxin in the processing of
poison, Arsenic, occurs naturally and is often found among gold and
silver bearing minerals. Once the ore is mined, it can be released
into the surface environment and dissolve in ground/surface water;
poisoning water a great distance from the mining operation.
To make a
simple gold ring takes somewhere in the region of 5 tons of water and
generates up to 20 tons of mine waste.
Opal mining in
Australia over 100 years has created a moonscape type environment in
the opal fields. Sapphire mining has had similar impacts. Ruby mining
is often carried out close to rivers; threatening water supplies with
contamination from effluent.
There can also
a great human cost. The term 'blood diamonds' refers to the trade of
diamonds where the proceeds are used to that help fund wars in
Africa. With nearly 50% of the world's diamonds coming from Africa,
it's not unknown for blood diamonds to wind up in the stores of major
jewelry chains. Aside from financing wars; in many diamond mines,
working conditions are deplorable and the miners paid a pittance.
alternatives - earth friendly jewelry
is becoming increasingly popular. Instead of precious metals and
gemstones, components such as glass, shells and recycled materials
There are many
ways to show someone you love them, but if you do settle on precious
metal/gem stone jewelry and are concerned about your purchase's
impact on the environment; consider these two ideas:
socially responsible jewelers who are certified to be sourcing
precious metals and gemstones in an ecologically and socially
responsible manner. While no form of mining can be considered truly
environmentally friendly, some responsible mining companies are
making an effort to ensure that damage to the environment is minimal,
effluent properly managed, workers fairly treated and areas mined rehabilitated.
buying a pre-owned ring; or even a couple of pieces. Take them to a
jeweler and have them make something new from it - if you purchase
wisely, you might save a stack of cash and wind up with a truly
I don't think
we'll ever change our fascination with things that sparkle, but
something we do need to change is our gullibility for allowing
companies to convince us of what we need to give to make someone feel
special and to demonstrate our depth of feeling; or allowing them to
dictate to us what is beautiful, precious and "forever".