There are many benefits to buying sustainable jewelry—it’s often more affordable, you can help small businesses, and it’s safer for the environment. That being said, many stores are trying to hop on the “ethical” and “sustainable” jewelry trends by using buzzwords, despite not actually providing eco-friendly jewelry.
Furthermore, many stores may claim that their diamond jewelry is both “conflict-free” and “eco-friendly,” but unfortunately, they might not actually know about the environmental impact their jewelry has. Although lab-created diamonds are conflict-free, it takes a lot of energy to make them. To make a one-carat lab diamond as efficiently as possible, it takes 250 kilowatts, which is more energy than the average U.S. household uses in 8.7 days.
The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to define what “eco-friendly” jewelry looks like exactly. However, there are some things you can look for to ensure that you’re buying gold and diamond jewelry that is more eco-friendly than most. Here’s our guide on what to look for when purchasing sustainable jewelry.
The Problem with Gold Mining
Most people don’t think about where the gold in their diamond engagement ring, gemstone earrings, or gold necklaces comes from. Sadly, 80% of the world’s gold supply comes from large-scale mining, and the rest comes from small-scale gold mining.
If you’re wondering, “Which is better, large-scale gold mining or small-scale gold mining?” The answer is neither—both are destructive to the environment. Furthermore, while small-scale gold mining contributes to only 20% of the world’s gold supply, it makes up close to 90% of gold mining labor. Small-scale gold mining is on the rise in developing nations and often uses child labor to procure gold from the Earth.
So even if you’re buying conflict-free diamonds, if you’re buying mined gold, you’re still supporting companies who permit child labor and low wages.
What Is Rhodium Used For?
The problem is that most people not only don’t know where their gold comes from, but they don’t care to find out. Even well-meaning individuals who recycle and implement eco-friendly alternatives into their lifestyles may end up buying recently mined gold jewelry.
To avoid an ethical issue, mined gold in jewelry must be at least one of the following:
- Fairtrade gold: The environmental and labor conditions for gold workers are kept in check to assure ethical practices. In order to be Fairtrade, the gold must be directly traceable to a specific mine or community.
- Artisanal gold: This is a vague term that can refer to Fairtrade gold, but it can also refer to small business practices in which the person who owns the company is directly involved in the gold mining. For example, if someone starts a diamond business, buys their own shovels or other small-scale mining equipment, and digs up the gold themselves to supply materials for their jewelry, it’s ethical.
- Recycled gold: Gold that has been repurposed is more environmentally friendly because it doesn’t require more excavation of the Earth. Reusing gold instead of mining new gold is something that is relatively uncommon compared to gold mining, but if it becomes more popular, it could potentially reduce unethical gold mining.
Take the time to learn about where a jewelry brand or store gets its materials from. Even if it uses the words “sustainable” or “ethical,” look into it further, and feel free to ask questions. You might be surprised to find that a “sustainable jewelry” brand uses plastic packaging, or sells inefficiently produced lab-grown diamonds.
If you’re only looking to buy a few pieces of ethical or sustainable jewelry, take the time to encourage others to do the same. Educate others on why eco-friendly jewelry is important, and how others can help fight against unethical and unsustainable practices in the jewelry industry.
Sustainability Matters at Karini Jewellery
Here at Karini, we as jewelers have a sustainability policy with which we try to protect our planet as much as possible. We value the environment, and we make an effort to protect it. Our unique jewelry features responsibly sourced natural diamonds. We are continually researching diamonds and jewelry to educate ourselves on how to better provide ethical and eco-friendly jewelry to our customers at affordable prices.
We don’t yet offer lab-grown diamonds; our experts are still conducting research into the field. If we’re able to find more sustainable lab-created diamonds and offer them at affordable prices, we may include them in the future.
We Only Use Recycled Packaging
If a jewelry store offers “sustainable” jewelry but uses plastic packaging, are they really making an effort to help the environment?
All of our diamond and gemstone jewelry uses recyclable papers and packaging, which reduces the need for more trees to be cut down. Using only recycled packaging is something we believe that all jewelry stores should follow.
Recycled Gold for Sustainable Jewelry
In addition to our eco-friendly packaging, our 14K and 18K gold jewelry uses 100% recycled gold. It’s better for the environment, and it’s worth supporting over newly mined gold.
If you really care about the environment and ethical jewelry, it’s a good idea to raise awareness about the problems surrounding gold mining (both large-scale and small scale). In order to end unethical gold mining its practices of child labor, society as a whole needs to avoid supporting jewelry stores that utilize gold from those companies.
Browse Our Unique Collection of Wearable Artwork
Here at Karini Jewellery, we value education on diamonds, gold, and sustainable jewelry industry practices. We offer a number of unique recycled gold jewelry—including diamond stackable rings, vintage rings, gemstone earrings, and necklaces, all crafted to perfection.
If you decide to buy our recycled gold jewelry, we’re grateful for your interest in increasing sustainability in the jewelry industry and supporting our small business. We also urge you to help raise awareness for fair gold mining practices, as well as encourage others to support second-hand and recycled gold so that it becomes a more powerful force in dismantling unethical gold mining.