ethical, sustainable and slow fashion is been mentioned very often nowadays. But most of the time we talk about clothes or shoes and other fashion accessories. But what about such jewellery? Of course, this topic regards also them. For example, the production of a single ring produces up to 20 tons of waste. But it’s not just waste. In most cases, metal mining and processing are far from fairness and more reminiscent of modern slavery.
Traditional gold mining is very unfriendly to nature. It is either earned by corporations in a country where gold is mined and people continue to lose weight, or it comes from small, often family-run mines where ‘miners’ do not have much knowledge and use quite carelessly the mercury they spend on themselves and their surroundings because they know nothing better. and they need to make money somehow.
Ecological risks of gold mining
The hydrometallurgical process of gold mining from low-purity ores represents a very risky process from an ecological point of view. The use of cyanide solutions in tonne to 100-ton batches poses a huge risk in the event of an accident. An example is the catastrophic contamination of the Danube with cyanides and heavy metals from the Romanian hydrometallurgical plant Baia Mare in January 2000. The result was a natural disaster – hundreds of tons of dead fish and other animals and destruction of the nature of a large area for decades. Accidents of a similar nature have occurred several times in the USA or South American Brazil when the Amazon River was infested.
Another problem is the use of metallic mercury for amalgamation gold mining, for example in Mongolia, South America or Africa. There are also significant problems with the appropriate deposition of thousand-ton quantities of leached rock, the agricultural use of which is currently virtually impossible.
Due to the potential risks of using cyanides, new methods are being developed, such as leaching in thiosulphate solution or thiourea. For the time being, the more extensive use of this method is hindered by their price, which is also related to the more difficult extraction of leached gold.
How to buy ethical and ecological jewellery
You certainly don’t buy expensive jewellery every day, so it’s quite easy not to rush and choose a brand that meets ethical and environmental standards.
You can consider the following aspects in particular:
- The materials from which jewellery is made (precious metals and stones) should be obtained ethically and be Fairtrade or Fairminted certified.
- Jewellery can also be made from recycled materials, such as older jewellery. Precious metals can also be obtained from old electronics.
- Jewellery production itself should be ethical and jewellery should be created in places where human rights are respected and employees are fairly rewarded for their work.
Alternatives to Ethical and Fairtrade Jewelry
First of all, we have the opportunity to buy “second-hand” jewellery, which you can find not only in bazaars but also in various smaller goldsmiths.
However, jewellery from independent local jewellers is also offered. You can buy pieces that are often made by hand and only in a few pieces. However, it must be taken into account that the materials used by these jewellers do not come from fair sources in most cases.