Hello readers! Today we will begin our discussion on jewellery! After stumbling upon an Instagram ad by Ana Luisa about sustainable jewellery, I was intrigued to do more of my own research. The brand claims to be carbon neutral by preserving a forest area which offsets their CO2 production. Their carbon footprint methodology can be found here. They use recycled gold and silver from previously-owned jewellery for their products, although it is unclear where this jewellery is obtained. The diamonds are also lab-grown, to ensure no exploitation of labour for mining or raw materials.
While we often hear about ethical concerns associated with diamonds (as with most precious raw materials), hence the term “blood diamonds”, what are the environmental impacts of jewellery production? Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? When diamonds are mined, approximately 250 tonnes of the ground is shifted per carat. This results in soil erosion due to top soil exposure and destruction of ecosystems, not to mention the ground that to be deforested for any of this to even take place.
Mining involves toxic chemicals like sulphuric acid, cyanide and mercury, all of it which gets washed away as runoff, potentially polluting nearby water bodies. Gold mining also requires a large amount of water, especially in the case of hydraulic mining. An example would be AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third largest gold producer, a company which had to suspend its 2 of its operations in Ghana due to water pollution from extraction. In 2011, the company intended to build 2 water treatment plants, and in 2019 has since entrusted its 4 wastewater treatment plants and 2 drinking water treatment plants to Veolia Ghana Limited.
So what exactly can jewellery companies do to be more ethical? Well, according to this article, here’s how:
Jewellery companies must be accountable for the supply chain and be able to trace the sources of their purchased materials. They can also employ environmentally-conscious designers who are willing to experiment with alternative materials. Apart from that, they should also look into using recycled materials, especially since precious metals like gold never lose their value.
Companies can purchase directly from local artisans. This empowers local communities and simplifies the supply chain by doing away with sweatshops, giving companies more control and traceability of their supply chains. However, simply purchasing from local communities is not enough. Companies must ensure that they are paying fair and competitive market prices in order to enact real change and development.
Lastly, companies have a responsibility to be transparent to their consumers. Publishing annual reports on carbon footprint, waste management and traceability are important in helping us make more informed decisions.
That’s all for today! I hope you found this discussion on jewellery insightful. Perhaps now you’ll pay more attention to where you your gold hoop earrings come from, because I know I will!
About. (n.d.). Ana Luisa. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.analuisa.com/pages/about
AngloGold Ashanti has contracted Veolia for water treatment at its Obuasi gold mine in Ghana. (2019, June 3). Veolia. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.veolia.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/anglogold-ashanti-has-contracted-veolia-water-treatment-its-obuasi-gold
Diamond Commodity Chain. (n.d.). The Ohio State University. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from https://u.osu.edu/diamondscarlsoncaggiano/impacts/
Discovery and Mining. (2015). In The Diamond Course. Diamond Council of America.
Moraes, C., Carrigan, M., Bosangit, C., Ferreira, C., & McGrath, M. (2015). Understanding Ethical Luxury Consumption Through Practice Theories: A Study of Fine Jewellery Purchases.
Sustainable Jewellery: From Dirty to Sparkly. (2018, September 9). Development In Practice. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from http://dip.ng/journal/2018/9/9/sustainable-jewellery-from-dirty-to-sparkly