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