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Why Everyone Is Talking About Sustainable Jewelry and How You Can Make the Switch

Fashion may be under a harsh spotlight for its unsustainable practices, but that blanket term extends to jewelry just as much as it does to clothing. In reality, the jewelry industry has been flying under the radar for its unethical and environmentally-unfriendly practices for quite a while. Take a look as we shed light on it’s current practices and how the industry is poised for a sustainable future.

Key Takeaways: All that glitters is not gold

Fine jewelry like gold and diamonds may be your most cherished possessions, but both of them are obtained by mining the earth — a process that has had damaging ramifications for the environment. It has been estimated that in order to obtain a single ring’s worth of gold, 20 tons of soil and rock are discarded. A seemingly tiny amount that is actually the equivalent of one big fire truck. 

To make matters worse, a large amount of this waste contains mercury and cyanide that is used to extract gold from rocks. And many of these gold mines dump their toxic waste directly into water bodies that have devastating effects on marine life. A prime example of this malpractice is the Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea; it’s been recorded that they’ve been dumping over 5 million tons of toxic waste directly into the Pacific Ocean every year. Across the globe, mining corporations dump 180 million tons worth of such toxic waste into oceans, rivers, and lakes on an annual basis.

Diamonds mining has been equally detrimental to the planet’s well being. Nearly 1750 tons (the equivalent of 2 cargo ships) worth of earth and its ore is extracted to obtain 1-carat worth of diamond. Moreover, unethical diamond mining practices can have been known to cause soil erosion that strips it of its natural nutrients. In Angola, Central Africa, a century worth of reckless diamond mining has taken such a heavy toll on its environment that the land was rendered uninhabitable which forced local populations to relocate. 

Sustainable jewelry and where to find it

When it comes to fine jewelry, sustainable options like lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold jewels have been on the rise. However, experts argue that the best path forward for the diamond industry is one that benefits from lab-grown diamond innovation while improving mined diamond production at the same time. Plans to reform diamond mining include supply chain tracking, community investments and sustainability programmes. US-based brands like Hume Atelier and Brilliant Earth are committed to sourcing ethical diamonds that originate from specific mine operations or countries that have demonstrated their commitment to follow internationally recognized environmental standards.

Alternatively, one of the best sustainable options for fine jewelry is to update heirloom pieces that are already collecting dust in your treasure trove. NY based Aaryah jewelry offers your hand-me-downs a new life by re-designing them to suit your modern taste — think of it as upcycled jewelry that you can wear now and cherish forever. 

The future seems bright for sustainable fine jewelry as a recent report by McKinsey and Co. states that jewelry sales influenced by sustainability considerations are poised for dramatic growth. They have estimated that within the next 4 years, 20 to 30% of global jewellery sales will be influenced by sustainably-minded consumers.


Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-12-09

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