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

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,]

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.



Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

10 Responses

  1. Heather in Arles

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

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