We all love a beautiful piece of jewelry made with the finest materials and precious stones. But did you know that most of the fine jewelry making is extremely harmful to the environment and to people. Would you still buy it if you knew what it took to make it?
The problem comes from how metals and stones are mined. Some of the most loved precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum also employ the most toxic techniques- e.g. lead, mercury and arsenic are used to separate gold from the ore. That is a lot of toxic crap for mines, miners and their communities to deal with. Not to mention the impact that mining surface soil has on biodiversity and local ecosystems. Finally, gold and diamond rich areas have a history of human rights violations, displacement of indigenous people and funding violent groups. Do you still want that shiny gold necklace or diamond ring?
Here's two things you can do that will make a big difference:
1. Know your makers.
Make sure you only buy jewelry from businesses that are committed to ethical practices and recycling. Recycled silver, gold and platinum are just as good as new! It's a simple process of melting the metal and reshaping it, there is no loss in quality in that process.
At AHHA Jewelry we don't currently use precious metals or precious stones in our designs, opting instead for more environmentally and human friendly alternatives. In the future we envisage having recycled gold, silver and platinum collections but we are committed to doing our research first and finding the right local suppliers. We will only ever work with 100% recycled precious metals and ethically sourced precious stones.
2. Choose stainless steel jewelry
Stainless steel is the unsung hero of the jewelry industry! It has the lightest impact on the Earth from all known materials. In addition to it being just beautiful, here are 3 convincing reasons why you should choose stainless steel jewelry:
Stainless steel has the power to heal itself. Chromium creates a tough invisible film that prevents corrosion, and if scratched it repairs itself by being exposed to Oxygen. It is strong, resilient and stands up confidently against the elements (doesn't rust or tarnish). As far as symbolic meaning goes, that's one empowered badass metal!
Stainless steel is hypoallergenic - people with allergies to metals will not have an adverse reaction to stainless steel. It is also very easy to clean with just soap and water (or just wear it in the shower and that's the cleaning done)
100% recyclable. There is already a strong recycling culture and infrastructure for stainless steel - around 85% of stainless steel products are recycled at the end of their life. The recycling system is very efficient and doesn't rely on subsidies or other economic incentives.
To our knowledge, no toxic materials are used in the making of stainless steel and no harmful chemicals are released when dissolved in nature.
Low energy consumption, minimal CO2 emissions.
Fun fact: any stainless steel product already has approximately 60% recycled stainless steel content in it!
At AHHA Jewelry around 80% of the material we use in our jewelry is stainless steel. We believe this is the best alternative that allows us to make sustainable affordable beautiful jewelry for you to enjoy! Our goal is to have a 100% sustainable supply chain by the end of our first year. That would be a lovely Christmas present for 2021, don't you think? :)
We can only make this possible with your help. Thank you for choosing sustainable alternatives and supporting our business. If you'd like to learn more about sustainability challenges and solutions in the jewelry industry please don't hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com
Disclaimer: Sustainability is a complex topic and there are a lot of opinions around it. Our only goal with this content is to share our research and shine a light on the issues that are important to us. We hold no judgement for anyone choosing a different approach. We believe the most important thing is to be mindful and to be informed. Our hearts go out to your hearts.
p.s. Geek section
Based on our research, here's the ranking table of the most eco-friendly materials for jewellery making (1- most eco-friendly, 10- least eco-friendly)
1. Recycled gold, recycled silver, recycled platinum
2. Stainless steel