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Business

16 March 2016

Ethical jewelry

The extraction of precious metals and stones causes considerable environmental and human damage. How not to participate?

1kg of gold extracted is equivalent to 27 tons of greenhouse gases and more than a million liters of water. Without counting the quantity of cyanide and dynamite used in the process. Since the release of Blood Diamonds in 2006, the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, we know that the diamond trade also funds wars and trafficking.
To be absolutely sure that your ring did not cause such tragedies there is a solution: choose Fairmined certified gold (created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining). Among the major jewelers, Chopard is the only one to use it, and only for its “Palme Verte” collection. Some much smaller brands are very fond it to the point of making it their specialty: jewelry by JEM and Paulette à Bicyclette are 100% Fairmined.

So, how to be sure that your gem is “clean”? If it is a diamond, a Kimberley Process certificate is the best guarantee, even if the breaches have been updated. However, it’s impossible to establish the traceability of a ruby, a sapphire or a tourmaline, as colored stones are produced by thousands of small mines on the other side of the world. And there is an incredible amount of intermediaries. Since the early 2000s, some jewelers like Tiffany & Co. have taken measures to boycott jade and rubies coming from Burma. Mining companies are also aware of these new challenges, like the English company Gemfields or the Muzo mine in Colombia. The latter has launched an international communication campaign to improve the image of its emeralds (reputed to be the finest in the world). It particularly emphasizes the integration of the size and distribution processes and also their ultra-modern extraction techniques that provide better working conditions. Today, the images of slave workers and polluted sites don’t quite fit with luxury’s image and their jewelry pieces that cost tens of thousands of euros.

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