We made a commitment in 2005 to provide ethically sourced precious metals to the Australian public. Nearly 10 years on we continue to do so, recently adding certified Fair-trade gold to our long list of 100% recycled precious metals.
Most precious metals have excellent recycling capabilities, once out of the ground they can be used refined and reused; however the initial mining can be very destructive to the environment. Generally pollution is in the form of other heavy metals being leached into waterways with sediments and deforestation. Social harm is not excluded, everything from warlords and forced labour to death from mine collapses and poisoning from chemicals. Small scale gold mining is the biggest contributor to the rising Mercury levels on our planet, followed by the burning of fossil fuels. Mercury is a neurotoxin and it bioaccumulates moving up the food chain, building up in animals bodies over their lifetime. It’s most harmful for developing brains in babies which is why guidelines are set for pregnant women and children to restrict or remove some fish species from their diets.
Quality forms the basis of all our jewellery and therefore the metals we use must be the most pure available. Our recycled precious metals are refined and alloyed to the same or higher tolerances than virgin metals. Most of the recycled precious metals we use come from the high-tech refining facility owned by Hoover and Strong. Their refining system is one of the cleanest developed and their commitment to quality is unrivalled. The metals they recycle come from many sources, mainly from old jewellery but also from other industries like the telecommunication industry. All recycled metals from Hoover and Strong are certified 100% recycled.
Photo credit : Utopian Creations
We are one of a growing number of jewellers around the world to embrace certified Fair-trade gold. These metals are mined using sustainable practices that significantly reduce impacts to the environment and local communities. Environmental safeguards must be in place to control water runoff, Mercury use is reduced with the eventual goal of elimination and the workers must be cared for with appropriate health and safety and fair pay. Fair-trade metals help build communities, lifting standards of living in disadvantaged, isolated areas without unregulated environmental degradation. Currently there are three mines fully certified Fair-trade, Aurelsa and Sotrami in Peru and Oro Verde in Colombia. As with all jewellery metals Fair-trade gold is alloyed with other metals to make it suitable for jewellery use. Currently the metals alloyed with the gold are a mix of recycled and virgin metals from non certified sources. We are working closely with the Fair-trade association with the goal of producing the alloys with 100% certified origin metals. Gold mining causes huge environmental problems around the world, it’s only by supporting programs like Fair-trade gold that less harmful mining practices can be developed and put into practice.
Photo credit : The World Fair-trade Association