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Do Your Jewels Really Shine?

Do Your Jewels Really Shine?

I suppose I’ll go cliché today, and remind you that “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Well, to the extent that this idea prevails in our society, I remind you equally strongly that we need to be aware that not all jewelry deserves to sparkle. Most of us have heard the phrase “blood diamonds” in the last few years, but have we learned much about ‘peace diamonds?’ USAID’s Peace Diamond Alliance was formed in 2002 in order to increase legal diamond exports, see to the rights of workers and reduce the labor of children, and to prevent further environmental degradation. How can a blood diamond be near as valuable as that?

The rest of the jewelry industry deserves an equally close glance. According to the No Dirty Gold Campaign, an approximate 28 percent of shoppers gift jewelry on Valentine’s Day (after all, ten percent of engagements happen on this day as well). But if that pendant or ring you have sitting in your sock drawer has any bit of gold in it, please take a second glance. Here are some facts, also obtained from the No Dirty Gold site:

–one gold ring can lead to 20 tons of mine waste.
–cyanide helps to separate gold from ore- but a fraction of a fraction of cyanide is fatal to us, and a fraction of that is lethal to the flora and fauna
–metals-mining is the US’s number one toxic polluter

The jewelry industry sure is a tough one to love. The destruction left in its wake is horrific. Fortunately, though, in the last decade or so, awareness around this issue has increased. Initiatives like the Peace Diamond Alliance and the No Dirty Gold campaign, mentioned above, have done a lot to increase the ethics in the industry. Others, like The Fairtrade Labelling Organization and the Alliance for Responsible Mining have partnered together to create fair trade mining standards, giving miners fair wages, premiums, union options, environmental standards, and non-violence standards.

As you may know, I’m always an advocate for fair trade, and consider it a wonderful option. On the other hand, I’m also a sucker for a good story. That’s why I suggest another alternative- buying your jewelry secondhand. I believe every used thing has a story, and it’s usually especially true with antique jewelry. Whether on Valentine’s Day or not, jewelry is almost always acquired as a momentum of affection. So to pass on a legacy of affection is just oh-so-romantic.

Romance may be your ‘thing,’ but perhaps jewelry isn’t! Check back tomorrow for another of our Valentine’s Day special eco-tips.

Tags: blood diamonds, eco-friendly, environment, fair trade, jewelry, no dirty gold

Posted in: Green Living, Fair & Friendly Valentine's Day

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