Ethical jewellery: combining aesthetics and ecological responsibility
Buying ethical jewellery is a great way to combine beauty and ecological responsibility.
Nowadays, adopting an eco-responsible attitude in our daily actions is no longer an option to preserve the environment. Food, housing, travel, etc., in all areas of everyday life, our actions have a fundamental impact on the planet. The same applies to our choice of jewellery. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings: we can choose to adapt the choices of our jewellery pieces to take an ecological approach, attentive to the respect of man and the environment.
What is ethical jewellery?
To be ethical, the manufacture of a piece of jewellery must meet at least two conditions:
- Respect for the working conditions of all those involved in the jewellery manufacturing process;
- The preservation of all the geographical areas concerned in one way or another by the manufacture of the jewel.
A piece of jewellery is said to be “ethical” when its manufacture, from the extraction of the stones and precious metals to its sale, respects both the people involved and the environment.
The environmental consequences
Behind the beauty and brilliance of many gold and silver jewels, there are often deplorable mining conditions. The extraction of gold, silver or other precious metals that make up our jewellery causes real pollution with catastrophic consequences. Phenomenal quantities of water are used and toxic and harmful products are released into nature without any precautions. The air, land and waterways are therefore continually polluted and forests are overexploited and destroyed.
The human consequences
In order to extract metals and stones in the mines, the mining populations are often forced to work in deplorable and dangerous conditions. Human dignity is often trampled on: wages are shamefully low, children are exploited, labour is forced.
Ethical jewellery is made by companies that are aware of these abuses and are transparent about the traceability of precious materials and the extraction processes.
Recycled jewellery: an eco-responsible alternative
Recycled jewellery made in France
Here is another way to do good for the planet and adopt an eco-responsible attitude: recycling your jewellery. Is your grandmother’s diamond engagement ring sitting at the bottom of your jewellery box? If it seems too old-fashioned to wear, you can transform it to suit your taste and give it a second life. At Pierres de Julie, we can recycle your old jewellery. In our workshop, we can redesign a new setting, recut the gem, recycle the gold to create a unique and personalised piece. Based on your wishes and ideas, we create for you a new piece of custom-made jewellery in gold or silver.
Another form of “committed” jewellery is vegan jewellery. As with ethical jewellery, it is eco-friendly and also demonstrates a desire not to use animal leather in its manufacture. Vegan jewellery is therefore made from vegetable leather or cork: proof that you can remain chic without betraying your commitments.
Can I buy ethical gemstones?
Of course, it is possible to buy “ethically sourced” gems with a Fair Trade certification. Ethically sourced gems are the result of fair trade that guarantees a decent income for the workers who extract them. In addition, Fair Trade gems are cut in workshops equipped to combat silicosis, a fatal pathology for gem cutters. Although the “ethical diamond” label does not officially exist, several solutions are available if you wish to acquire one that is ethical and fair. For example, you can opt for the Canadian diamond. Extracted from the Ekati mine, the Diavik mine or the Gacho Kué mine in north-western Canada, it offers one of the best guarantees of respect for environmental and ethical standards in the world.
How do you recycle gemstones?
Recycling gemstones is part of a sustainable development approach.
Recycling a gemstone essentially consists of re-cutting it to a shape that meets current standards and mounting it on a recycled gold frame. Re-cutting a gemstone allows it to regain a brilliance that it may have lost and thus to enhance its value once again. If you wish to reuse your gem or have it appraised, we provide quality appraisals in complete confidentiality. Do not hesitate to contact us for a first free estimate of your jewel or your precious stone.
Did you know that by 2030, a large part of the gold deposits will be exhausted? Extraction will then become problematic. The good news is that gold is 99.9% recyclable. It is therefore entirely possible to create new jewellery from recovered and revalued precious metal. Using recycled gold to create jewellery creates a short and virtuous supply chain. The ecological impact is also important, because beyond the ethical aspect, recycled gold favours a made in France and artisanal manufacture of jewellery and thus avoids pollution due to transport and exploitation.
Ethical gold: what does the Fairmined label mean?
Gold mining is a very lucrative business. The figures speak for themselves:
- 20 million: number of miners working in gold mines;
- 100 million: number of people living from gold mining;
- 50: number of countries involved in gold mining profits.
Paradoxically, the gold mining territories are among the poorest areas of the world. Economic exploitation, lack of respect for human rights, child labour, health risks and environmental damage are commonplace. Pollution from toxic substances such as mercury and cyanide (to name but a few) threaten the ecological balance of the planet.
The Fairmined label is an eco-responsible and socially responsible response to combat these problems and guarantee ethical gold. Fairmined gold comes from artisanal mining communities. These operations respect the rules of fair trade and guarantee environmental protection and a real social commitment to local workers. Today, throughout the world, several mines are Fairmined certified and many others are in the process of being certified. The Fairmined label ensures transparency in the exploitation of gold from extraction to sale.
If you want to buy ethical jewellery, make sure your jeweller is a member of the RJC (Responsible Jewellery Council), an ethical charter that traders, setters, jewellers, lapidaries and producers of raw materials commit to respect. Many great designers and brands have joined the RJC: Cartier, Chanel, Vuitton, Piaget and many others.
If you are interested in ethical jewelry, don’t hesitate to discover what Les Pierres de Julie offer in our store…
We are also available for any free expertise of your vintage jewelry, for that you can send an email with your photos to email@example.com.