Ethical jewellery: what to ask and what to buy

This article first appeared in the Ecologist on 24 April 2012.

Nobody wants to look at jewellery and feel pangs of guilt but there’s no denying that the industry has a poor record when it comes to ethics with everything from blood diamonds to dirty gold and environmental destruction on the charge sheet. What’s more, according toEthical Metalsmiths, although metal mining only employs 0.9 per cent of the global workforce, it consumes 10 per cent of the world’s energy. ‘Mining is the most environmentally damaging industry in the world, and jewellery is 100 per cent dependent on mined products,’ says Greg Valerio, co-founder of Fair Jewellery Action(FJA) and owner of CRED Jewellery. But does that mean you have to give up bijoux entirely? Well, no. But you do need to know what to look out for.

Gold
Jewellery, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, accounts for around 50 per cent of global demand for gold. But there’s a plus side to its popularity and the yellow metal has become the first jewellery component to get Fairtrade certification. Figures released by the Fairtrade Foundation show that artisan and small-scale (ASM) miners sometimes receive as little as 70 per cent of the internationally agreed price of gold. Along with paying fair prices to workers, in order to be certified, mines must minimise the use of chemicals such as mercury and cyanide to extract the gold from ore. Along with low-chemical gold, there is also Fairtrade and Fairmined Ecological Gold….

Read more at the Ecologist 

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