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Sustainable jewelry - What distinguishes it?

Why are more and more jewelers advertising sustainable jewellery? What exactly is sustainable about their jewelry or what is not sustainable about the "normal" jewelry that I bought from my previous trusted jeweler or my favorite fashion boutique?
Reading Sustainable jewelry - What distinguishes it? 7 minutes Next Qualitative differences in jewelry

foreword

Up until a few years ago there was only a minority of people who even thought about where their jewelry actually came from and under what circumstances it was made.

Ever since the hype surrounding diamonds and the documentaries and films that followed, such as "Blood Diamond", most of us have at least heard that these coveted gemstones have often promoted hardship and misery before adorning our hands, ears or décolleté.

As far as diamonds are concerned, many people are already enlightened and sensitized, so that certificates of origin and processing mean that fewer of these so-called "blood diamonds" find a market. Import regulations within the EU put a stop to this cruel business some time ago.

But what about the rest of the gems? Why are more and more jewelers advertising sustainable jewellery? What exactly is sustainable about their jewelry or what is not sustainable about the "normal" jewelry that I bought from my previous trusted jeweler or my favorite fashion boutique?

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

Blue sapphires on white gloved hand

gems

Not only the business with diamonds is often "bloody" and exploits the need and misery of other people just to make rich people even richer.

Many stones come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and areas of central Africa. Terrible working conditions often prevail in the mines. Children are sent down narrow shafts that no adult can fit through. Helmets and masks are often scarce or not provided at all.

Unfortunately, the profit from the stones won does not go to the miners, who have to make do with a pittance, but to the already rich mine owners, who often remain anonymous and are suspected of financing terrorism and wars.

When it comes to their sustainable jewellery, sustainable jewelers like SPIRIT OF ISLAND pay attention to exactly where the gemstones are obtained. So the contact does not only take place via an intermediary. Great importance is attached to a direct exchange with the mine operators.

This requires a great deal of commitment and persistence, because the mine operators themselves are often not interested in selling directly to the jeweler.

SPIRIT OF ISLAND has therefore initially specialized in small mines in Indonesia, most of which have been family-owned for generations and are also operated by them themselves. The working conditions of the miners were already right here.

Meanwhile, Spirit of Island has also partnered with trusted mines in Australia, Thailand and India. Here, too, the requirements that the sustainable jewelery entails are checked first, before the focus is on the quality and price of the gemstones.
Woman washes gold in a river

precious metals

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

Gold mining, for example, requires a lot of energy for mining and processing. In 1000 tons of rock there are usually only 4 - 5 grams of gold. Toxic chemicals are commonly used to extract the coveted precious metal, including mercury, cyanide and hydrocyanic acid. These are already flushed out when the gold is extracted and contaminate 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 still dominates 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 gold. On the one hand, this can be gold, which is proven by a certificate that certain working conditions and environmental standards are observed.

Another method is the use of Eco Gold, which we rely on at SPIRIT OF ISLAND . On the one hand, this is "young gold", which nature itself flushed out of rock and thus found its way into rivers. There it is washed out by hand and gold pan.

On the other hand, we also use recycled gold for our sustainable jewelry, which is obtained from old jewelry and electronic devices. Incidentally, old dental gold is not used here, as it is not suitable for this due to its nature and composition. Also, no one would want to buy jewelry made from old dentures - a bit strange to think of!

Silversmith making a ring in silver by hand.

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 jewelry, the actual production of the jewelry must be examined carefully. Here, too, there are further risks lurking in terms of environmental protection and labor law.

For example, the purchased Eco Gold still has to be mixed in the right ratio to get the coveted 18 carat or 14 carat gold. At SPIRIT OF ISLAND , we only let our own blacksmith carry out this process. He uses recycled silver as a secondary 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 on the part of the wearer.

As in every area of ​​craftsmanship, there are unfortunately still far too often bad working conditions, child labor and starvation wages in jewelry production. A trusting personal relationship with his blacksmith and regular visits to the production facility are essential.

Wooden box with Spirit of Island logo and inscription

Packaging

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

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

Hand with three rings of silver with emeralds and an opal in front of an orange tree

Conclusion

Many companies are now committed to producing sustainable jewelry because they have noticed that this aspect boosts sales. If you take a closer look at them, you often realize that there is often little commitment behind this promise. Admittedly, sustainable jewelry does not shine with particularly low prices and the companies are not the most profitable either. Unfortunately, it is still associated with great costs and greater effort to manufacture products in an environmentally friendly manner and with consideration for human dignity.

But what could be nicer than sustainable jewelry with natural gemstones - created by nature, refined by humans!

At SPIRIT OF ISLAND , we believe that the positivity of a sustainable piece of jewelry shines brighter than any blood diamond in the world could!

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