The breathtaking beauty of a diamond ring or a gold necklace can hide an ugly past. The mining operations that pull gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones and metals can be among the most environmentally destructive and polluting industries in the world. For example, the WorldWatch Institute estimates that the gold contained in a single .33 ounce, 18 karat gold ring produced an average of 18 tons of mine waste. In many countries, mining operations are accompanied by horrific conditions for workers, especially the “conflict diamonds” of Africa, which are often mined by slaves or other forced laborers and are used by paramilitary groups to fund brutal wars.
As awareness grows of the terrible social and environmental costs of many of the world’s most popular precious metals and stones, there is growing demand for socially and environmentally responsible jewelry. Examples of green jewelry include:
- antique and vintage jewelry
- jewelry made from recycled or reclaimed materials
- jewelry made from sustainably mined materials and gems
- jewelry made from other eco-friendly materials, such as hemp
Starting and Promoting a Green Jewelry Business
The two most common types of green jewelry business are designing and creating eco-friendly jewelry, and selling jewelry created by others.
One of the most popular ways to get started as a jewelry maker is to open a shop on Etsy.com, now home to a thriving community of eco-friendly jewelers. Other options include local craft fairs and farmer’s markets, personal websites, and eBay. Green jewelry makers enjoy an almost endless array of recycled, reclaimed, and sustainable materials, from antique diamonds to recycled glass, vintage watch gears to sustainably harvested pearls.
Opening a jewelry store that sells the work of others usually requires a physical storefront, a good website, or both. There are a myriad of ways to make your green jewelry businesses even greener through your choice of premises, from using eco-friendly building materials, cleaning services, and advertising materials, to green web hosting.
Three Eco-Conscious Green Jewelers For Jewelry as Green as It Is Beautiful
greenKarat uses recycled gold and sustainably produced diamonds to create stunning and eco-friendly rings, earrings, necklaces, and more. As one of the pioneers in the recycled gold jewelry industry, greenKarat has created a detailed set of standards for sustainably sourced gold and other materials called the Green Assay, which calculates the ecological footprint of each component and stage of processing that goes into the piece of jewelry, including metals, alloys, gems, refining, and bench practices. greenKarat also offers customers an optional carbon offset tax to make their purchases carbon neutral. greenKarat itself operates on 100% wind generated energy.
Moonrise Jewelry uses eco-friendly, fair trade materials to create beautiful designs, including the Premier Eco-Jewelry Collection of 100% ethically sourced materials and the unique Orchid collection, which uses real orchid flowers preserved in resin to last a lifetime. Moonrise’s eco-labeling system helps customers source their purchases.
Alkemie is a Los Angeles-based husband and wife team of designers and jewelers that create beautiful, nature-inspired designs with reclaimed metals.
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