Sourcing Ethical Metal for Jewelry-Making

open pit mine
We’ve talked quit a bit around here about eco-friendly jewelry making. From making your own recycled colored pencil beads to using yoga to recoop after a jeweling marathon, there are lots of ways to green up your jewelry making adventures.

One thing that I don’t think gets enough attention is the metal that we use in our crafting. Between chains, clasps, and wire for wrapping, metal plays a huge part in any handmade piece of jewelry. That metal can have a huge impact on the environment.

A lot of conventional gold, silver and copper mining is devastating both to mountains and to the surrounding areas. Many mining companies use a process similar to strip mining, and the runoff from this practice pollutes soil and water, and displaces tens of thousands of people each year because of this pollution. “Open pit” mines like the one pictured above are the main culprits.

Small-scale mining has its own problems, especially where gold is concerned. A recent article from Yale Environment 360 talked about the rise of mercury poisoning that accompanies a rise in gold prices, like the one we’re experiencing now. There’s also the issue of illegal gold mining, like the sort that caused mass lead poisoning in Nigeria.

So how can we make our own jewelry eco-friendly? There are luckily a couple of eco-options out there. Let’s take a look.

Next >> Recycled Metal

8 thoughts on “Sourcing Ethical Metal for Jewelry-Making”

  1. Great post. I think it is important that people point out things like this that may seem obvious, but really are not. We take so much time to make sure that we buy things that are fair trade and ecofriendly, but there are so many components. We have an import business through which we import handmade jewelry from different parts of the world. Frankly, the thing we focus on the very most is that our crafters make a fair living. When it break it down though, it is tough to know where the brass/bone/silver/gold/gemstones all really came from. We do our best to interview the crafters, but in cases where we work with small companies who employ these crafters, it is tough to always get the whole story, and frankly, possible that they themselves don’t even know where their raw materials came from. This post reminds us all that while focusing on the steps within the process is important, we need to also take a step back and look at the big picture to ensure that we are working within the parameters that we’ve set for ourselves and/or businesses.

  2. Thank you so much for bringing this up. Especially after the holiday ads, I’m sickened by the amount of bling that we are made to feel we need in order to feel special. I’ve asked my husband many times not to buy me jewelry, especially diamonds, but he seems to think that I’m joking. I guess that I can only control my own purchases, and I’ll be more aware of where I get my supplies.

  3. I recently began making my own earwires out of Hoover & Strong’s recycled sterling silver, 20 gauge. My customers really love the fact that they are recycled, and this is the only company that can guarantee their silver is 100% recycled (not 10%, 20%, like others).

    If you have questions about how to make them, contact me or visit my website!
    Drops of Sun Eco-friendly Paper Jewelry

  4. It is such an important point. I only buy fair trade jewellery now, but the worry about where the metal comes from is a sore point. I’m currently wearing one of these, which is quite intriguing. It is part of a airplane and made into quite a cool modern looking pendant.

  5. All the metals that eco-jewelers at Priolo and Co. use are from Hoover and Strong. It is so important that people realize the importance of buying recycled metals and Fair Trade gemstones.

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