Frauenhand zwei Ringe Sterling Silber blauer Topas weißes Brautkleid pink blühende Blumen

What does sustainable jewellery mean?

Why are more and more jewellers advertising sustainable jewellery? What exactly is sustainable about their jewellery or what is not sustainable about the "normal" jewellery that I have bought from my trusted jeweller or my favourite fashion boutique?
Reading What does sustainable jewellery mean? 7 minutes Next Qualitative differences in jewellery

Foreword

Until a few years ago, there was only a minority of people who even thought about where their jewellery actually comes from and under what circumstances it is produced.

Since the hype about diamonds and the following documentaries and movies like "Blood Diamond", most of us have at least heard about the fact that these coveted gemstones have often promoted hardship and misery before they adorn our hand, ear or décolleté.

As far as diamonds are concerned, many people are already educated and sensitized, so that meanwhile certificates about origin and processing ensure that fewer of these so-called "blood diamonds" find a market. Import regulations within the EU have also long since put a stop to this cruel business.

But what about the remaining precious stones? Why do more and more jewellers advertise sustainable jewellery? What exactly is sustainable about their jewellery, or what is not sustainable about the "normal" jewellery I have bought from my trusted jeweller or my favourite fashion boutique?

To answer these questions, let's look at the different components of jewelry and how they are extracted and made into jewelry.

Blaue Saphire auf Hand mit weißem Handschuh

Gemstones

It's not just the diamond business that is often "bloody" and exploits the hardship and misery of other people just to make rich people even richer.

Many stones come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and areas of central Africa. Often there are terrible working conditions in the mines. Children are sent down narrow shafts that no adult can fit through. Helmets and masks are often in short supply or not even provided.

Unfortunately, the profit from the stones extracted there does not go to the mine workers, who have to get by on a pittance, but to the already rich mine owners, who often remain anonymous and are suspected of financing terrorism and wars.

Sustainable jewellers like SPIRIT OF ISLAND pay attention to where exactly the gemstones are extracted from their sustainable jewellery. Thus, the contact does not only take place via a middleman. Great importance is attached to a direct exchange with the mine operators.

This requires a lot of dedication and persistence, because often the mine owners themselves have no interest in selling directly to the jeweller.

SPIRIT OF ISLAND has therefore first specialized in small mines in Indonesia, most of which have been family-owned and operated for generations. Here, the working conditions of the mine workers were already right.

In the meantime Spirit of Island has also established partnerships with trustworthy mines in Australia, Thailand and India. Here, too, the requirements of sustainable jewellery are checked first, before the focus is on the quality and price of the natural gemstones.

Frau wäscht Gold in einem Fluss

Precious metals

Probably the greatest damage to people and the environment, however, is caused by the extraction of gold and silver.
Here, too, methods and working conditions in mine construction are usually inhumane and do not take the environment into account.

Gold mining, for example, requires a lot of energy for extraction and processing. In 1000 tons of rock there are usually only 4 - 5 grams of gold. To extract the coveted precious metal, the use of toxic chemicals is common - including mercury, cyanides and hydrocyanic acid. These are washed out during the extraction of the gold and contaminate the soil and water in the long term. The process also produces fine dust, which is released into the environment by wind and water. In this way, more than 1680m² of rainforest was destroyed in Latin America between 2011 and 2013.

In addition to the catastrophic environmental conditions, this business is also still dominated by child labor and a lack of safety regulations and protective clothing.
In order not to support these extremely negative aspects, producers of sustainable jewelry rely on fair trade gold. On the one hand, this can be gold that is certified as complying with certain working conditions and environmental standards.

Another method is the use of Eco Gold, which we at SPIRIT OF ISLAND Set. On the one hand, this is "young gold", which has been washed out of rocks by nature itself and thus found its way into rivers. There it is washed out by hand and gold panning. On the other hand, we also use recycled gold for our sustainable jewellery, which is extracted from old jewellery and electrical appliances. By the way, old dental gold is not used here, as it is not suitable for this purpose due to its nature and composition. Also, no one would probably want to buy jewellery made from old dentures - a bit of a strange idea!

Silberschmied fertigt einen Ring in Silber von Hand an.

production

Once natural gemstones and eco gold or silver have been purchased, major hurdles have already been overcome, but in order to be able to guarantee truly sustainable jewellery, the actual production of the jewellery must be scrutinised. Here, too, there are further risks lurking with regard to environmental protection and labour law.

For example, the purchased Eco Gold still has to be mixed into the right ratio to get the coveted 18 carat or 14 carat gold. We have this process carried out SPIRIT OF ISLAND exclusively carried out by our own blacksmith. He uses recycled silver as a second component. Unfortunately, even with this process, cheap materials such as nickel are still too often added, which not only harm the environment, but can also cause intolerance in the wearer.

As in any handicraft sector, bad working conditions, child labour and starvation wages unfortunately still exist far too often in jewellery production. A trusting personal relationship with the blacksmith as well as regular visits to the production site are indispensable.

Holz Schatulle mit dem Logo und der Aufschrift von Spirit of Island

Packaging

This point is probably more important than ever in times of the constantly growing online trade.
SPIRIT OF ISLAND guarantees 100% plastic-free packaging. Even adhesive strips are compostable and the cover letter is made of seed paper, which you can plant after reading to enjoy a bouquet of colorful summer flowers after only a short time.

The caskets are made of ecologically degradable material and the luxury versions are made of handcrafted real wood, which was obtained from sustainable cultivation within Europe.

Hand mit drei Ringen aus Silber mit Smaragden und einem Opal vor einem Orangen Baum

Conclusion

Many companies these days are making a point of producing sustainable jewellery as they have noticed that this aspect boosts sales. If you take a closer look at them, you often realize that there is unfortunately often little commitment behind this promise. Because admittedly - sustainable jewellery doesn't shine with particularly low prices and the companies aren't the most profitable either. Unfortunately, it still takes a lot of money and effort to manufacture products in an environmentally conscious way and with respect for human dignity.

But what could be more beautiful than sustainable jewellery with natural gemstones - created by nature, refined by man!

We at SPIRIT OF ISLAND are convinced that the positive radiance of a sustainable piece of jewellery shines brighter than any blood diamond in the world could!

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.