If you’ve asked Santa Baby for a diamond ring, I believe that you might want to reformulate your request – here’s why.

…An aquantaince of mine, working in the jewellery & watch business and very committed to various charity projects, once told me wearily he needed that as a balance for – here he stopped and looked at me and went on with his official voice  – “a balance for all the stress and shallow glamour”. I actually knew exactly what he was trying to say…

Blood and tears…blood-diamonds-and-toxic-gold-and-more
It’s in fact a matter so horrible and so undeniably real as well as complicated, that I prefer to give you just the headlines in this post:
1 First: industry problems every consumer should care about
2 Second: a 2013 gold origin “test” showcasing the state of affairs
3 Third: what to do & eco eye candy

Blood & Tears

Here are the two proven, painfully well documented, and widely known major problems the jewellery industry is facing:

1 The Human Rights Abuses
Think brutal civil wars. Think miners terrorized by warlords; government corruption and violence; poverty and money laundering; poor working conditions; forced labour and /or child labour. The Responsible Jewellery Council and the Kimberley Process are industry tools to avoid conflict material. However, they are not ensuring that the production be fair – or ecological, so on to…

2 Health Hazard & Environmental Destruction
Think toxic cyanide spills; deadly mercury pollution; the only thing sustainable being the severe, long term ecosystem destruction.

[Sources: Brilliant Earth | Brilliant Earth: Kimberley Process | Global Witness: Kimberley Process | Fair Gold | Responsible gold mining Solidaridad | Fairtrade Intl. | Alliance for responsible Mining]

Dirty Gold: A Snapshot

According to a 2013 test run by the German eco watchdog magazine Ökotest, all four independent German eco jewellers they chose for review were able to prove working with 100% ethical gold.
By contrast, a famous US jeweller, a cult jeweller from Paris and one Germany’s own fine jeweller, as well as major “shopping addresses” for jewellery here in Germany (retail; online; teleshopping) were not capable of proving the ethical pedigree of their gold.
And ethical jewellers still are – of course – the exotic birds of jewellery shopping.
[Sources: Ökotest, FairTradeMinerals.de]

What to Do

Look for independent jewellers.
In the US as well as in Canada and Germany, there’s a new ‘breed’ of responsible jewellers who work with local, fair-mined gold and local gemstones (yay, Canadian diamonds and the real Rhinegold).
Here is an example of a few designs I absolutely adore because they’re so intricate, sophisticated, and luxurious that – and I hate to say the next part – that they look nothing like the eco/fair goodness they actually are!
Amalena: 18 ct gold jewellery (starting from 89€)amalena-ethical-eco-gold-jewellery
Raw Copenhagen: beads and charms, skandi meets boho style (starting from £32,00).
Bijohly: fine jewellery and wedding bands made in Berlin.
More brands here.


10 replies on “Gold & Gems: Why Care for Fair Mined or Eco? [Critical Consumer Quest #4]

  1. This is an amazing post and perfectly timed. Thank you as always for spreading awareness in so many ways…

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