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Since the time of ancient Egypt, gold has been a symbol of beauty, wealth, grandeur, prosperity, as well as glamour. This precious metal is the most popular used in making jewelry. However, we are all aware that the environmental cost of mining gold is huge. In fact, gold miners are among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the mining sector. Gold mining has the potential to displace populations, pollute drinking water and destroy natural habitats. To add to that, millions of gold miners work in hazardous conditions for minimal pay, putting their health at risk.
For every ounce of gold (one gold ring) 20 tons of mining waste is generated. However, considering that there are over 190,000 tons of gold in circulation (and there is about 20% still to be mined – 50,000 tonnes), there is plenty of gold to be reused without losing any of its quality. Recycled gold produces up to 99.8% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than mined gold. Furthermore, one single gram of recycled gold saves 680 liters of water and the energy savings from one gram are equivalent to 5,860 cell phone charges (almost 16 years of charging). As a result, corporations can help diminish the negative impacts of the newly mined metal and reduce its demand by using recycled gold.
If you’re looking for ethical jewelry for everyday wear, the 5 brands below are perfect for you. They are the ones that help eliminate the need to mine for natural resources and are defining what it means to make sustainable jewelry.
Monica Vinader is a brand that crafts their jewelry using 100% recycled gold vermeil and sterling silver. Their timeless jewelry is perfect for the modern woman looking to wear investment rings, pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets that will appreciate in value.
It is estimated that recycling one ton of mobile phones could produce on average 130 kg of copper, 3.5 kg of silver, 0.34 kg of gold and 0.14 kg of Palladium.
Environmental Impact: Monica Vinader s a rare brand that has certifications and awards to shine a light on their sustainable efforts. They’re Positive Luxury Certified by the Butterfly Mark, source ethical diamonds that are Kimberley Process approved and have won The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise Sustainable Development in 2022.
“Did you know that 70-80% of all platinum is mined from South Africa, an area where water is a scarce resource?”
When one of their heirlooms is shipped to you it’ll arrive in a bag, box and stickers that are 100% recyclable and they only use FSC paper. In fact, their jewelry comes with environmental impact statistics allowing customers to see the pollution avoidance of their recycled gold piece.
Catbird is a woman-owned brand that makes their own delicate jewelry entirely in-house at the Brooklyn Navy Yard using recycled gold and conflict-free, responsibly sourced stones.
Environmental Impact: Jewelers and artisans are fairly paid. Furthermore, at least one percent of sales are donated each year by the Catbird Giving Fund to organizations like the ACLU and the Food Bank of New York City. More than $800,000 have already been donated. You’ll rise to the gold standard in every way.
“Fine jewelry born and raised in NYC” is the tagline for this brand that was started in 2015. The aim was to offer fine jewelry fit for modern times and for an affordable budget.
Environmental Impact: This NYC based brand is raising the (gold) bar when it comes to sustainability. It makes gold jewelry with 100% recycled gold. Furthermore, their pearls are responsibly sourced from Japan and their conflict-free diamonds from indigenous communities. Their high-quality, sustainable jewelry are made in house by highly skilled artisans, and are perfect for the modern woman. Lastly, once an order is placed, Aurate donates a book in your name to Mastery Charter schools.
Automic Gold is a queer-owned studio making pieces using ethically mined stones and reclaimed solid gold from old electronics and old jewelry.
Environmental Impact: In fact, they are “certified by SCS for 100% recycled content.” Every single piece is made by hand by experts in NYC. To add to that, Automic Gold is one of the few fine jewelry brands in the world that goes up to size 16 in rings, with 29 sizes to pick from. Furthermore, you’ll only find photoshop-free images on their website. They offer free shipping across the US, free returns, and free repairs for six months.
KBH Jewels is a female-founded sustainable fine jewelry brand that handcrafts their jewelry in NYC with 100% recycled and reclaimed 14k solid gold, cultivated diamonds and organically cultured South Sea Pearls.
Environmental Impact: From jewelry to packaging, everything KBH makes, supplies, and transports is sourced responsibly. In fact, they’re a member of the Ethical Metalsmiths organization, which advises companies on how to work with gold and other precious metals in a sustainable way. One thing is certain: you’ll be very proud to wear and pass these on.