This is a really big question. When faced with something so complex and layered we find it's best to go back to basics. So what does ‘ethical’ mean to us in the context of the precious metals we use to craft our jewellery?
It is not considered ethical for people (individuals and communities) to be harmed in the extraction of new metal from the earth or that the earth itself be subjected to mass land clearing and excavation eradicating natural fauna and flora in the process.
There are many ethical issues relating to the mining of virgin metals. We have made, what we consider to be, the extremely easy choice to say ‘no’ to virgin metal and make the conscious decision to use only recycled materials in all our hand manufactured components instead. It's the same issue as single use plastic bags and making the choice to use a reusable one or one that is made from a fully recycled and recyclable material. By doing so we eliminate unwanted waste and carbon emissions in making said product and we in turn are making for a happier earth by reducing toxic landfill or hazardous items that will intersect with our ecosystem.
Did you know there are other industries that use precious metals in their products that aren’t in the jewellery industry?
Radiology: X-ray film contains silver in the form of halides which be refined to pure silver
Dentists: Gold fillings, though less common these days
Automotive & Electrical: Use precious metals such as gold and copper and palladium, particularly in batteries of electric cars as it improves the performance and efficiency
When it comes to precious metals and jewellery we don’t tend to throw them in the bin. We hand them down or we have them remodelled into new jewellery or, in some cases, sold to pawn brokers and gold buyers. This is a link in the chain to how metal is recycled and can be reused in new projects whilst still being a ‘like new’ product. This is by far the best way large metal refineries obtain their gold (along with jewellers who send in their workshop scraps and dust) as it is all melted down and separated into its pure forms (gold, silver, platinum, palladium etc), critically assessed and then alloyed into new metal products that can be sold onto jewellers like us.
Up-cycling your jewellery
It comes as no surprise that there are, or can be, problems with supply chains across all industries and metal production is no exception. That is why there is further choice when it comes to where virgin metal comes from when it's required. Thankfully these days there are many ventures offering eco-friendly mining and strict fair trade regulations covering all human rights concerns. And it is with this in mind that it was easy for us to choose a supplier who covered all these bases fully and responsibly. We choose to only source our metal from Chemgold, an Australian family business who's core ideology is to be responsible. They are members of the Responsible Jewellery Council who in turn hold Chemgold to the ’highest standards in terms of producing superior quality, as well as acting morally and ethically with our business partners and customers. Our commercial success is based on the quality of our services, as well as our commitment to the RJC’s Code of Practices for business ethics, human rights, social impact and environmental performance’.
Responsible Jewellery Council
When it comes to needing premade or prefabricated jewellery parts (such as earring butterflies or setting mounts) we have vetted a couple of companies in America (Hoover & Strong & Stuller) who are committed to using 100% recycled metal in the making of nearly all of their products. There is certainly room for improvement when it comes to recycled metal in Australian companies, and hence why we are having to get these products internationally. Wherever possible we are ordering multiple items and holding orders until we can get enough goods to fill a parcel, as always trying to minimise our carbon footprint.
If you have any questions relating to this article, please feel free to get in touch, we would be happy to discuss. Otherwise, we hope this has been a fun and educational read.
Until next time,
Megan & Jenna