Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the fact, that their buying choices affect not just themselves, but many other people, animals and the environment. Following the chain of production, reveals that there is a lot at stake when we make a simple purchase of any kind. Who made what I am buying? Are the people involved paid properly? What are their working conditions? What values does the brand have that I am purchasing from? What effects does the extraction, and the subsequent processing, of raw materials have on the environment?
Jewellery is no exception and following the chain of production of fine jewellery reveals some ugly truths. Most of us are familiar with the film "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo diCaprio, which shed light on the origins of certain diamonds and that the trade often funds bloody conflicts, corruption, and even genocide. The Kimberly process, introduced in 1990, is today very successful in monitoring the trade and therefore keeping conflict diamonds at a minimum. The truth, however, is that it is very difficult to be 100% certain of this. And when you are certain, the environmental impact of diamond and gold mining are still to be considered.
Diamond mining results in land degradation, serious impacts on water quality, devastating effects on wildlife and biodiversity. For gold mining we can add the use of harmful chemicals, including cyanide, literally a deadly poison, used for extracting gold from ore. Water sources are poisoned and it is clear what effects this would have on surrounding life, plants, animals and humans alike.
In order for fine jewellery then to be sustainable, there are two solutions:
1. Recycled precious metals, such as gold and silver
2. Sustainable diamonds, which are authentic diamonds grown in laboratories
Gold and silver can be quite easily recycled, by simply melting down existing pieces, or scrap metal and repurposing it for new pieces.
Lab grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds and even expert gemologists cannot tell the two apart. Natural conditions are simulated in laboratories, allowing the solid form of carbon in a diamond cubic crystal structure to grow. No mining, no destruction of the earth, same physical properties!
Jewellery lovers, who wish to purchase socially responsible jewellery and make sustainable fashion choices, don't have to give up on diamond jewellery and precious metals. The choices are out there, it's time to make the right ones! When we know what we are buying, we can make an impact for a sustainable future on this planet.