Jewellery and The Environment: An Overview & 3 Solid Facts

A discussion of the challenges between the production of jewellery and the environment that sustains us.

By Harry Turner

There is no doubt that the world is facing a lot of problems because of global warming. We no longer get the seasons that we once did because of global warming.

Due to these changes, there have been several businesses that have been adapting. Not to mention that many countries are looking to be carbon neutral by 2050.

One of the industries that are aiming to become more carbon neutral is the jewellery industry. However, this is an industry struggling to reduce the CO2 emissions that they are producing. Nonetheless, there are some slight improvements.

Jewellery and The Environment: woman with rings

The Environmental Challenges in Mining Gemstones

Mining can be a difficult task when it comes to being eco-friendly. The main reason for this is because of the machinery. Mines are a mass producer of CO2 so this is where this industry will need to make improvements. Furthermore, it will be difficult to make the machinery that is used to be more carbon neutral.

The materials that are used for jewellery are usually mined in developing conditions. Not only will the working standards of these mines be very poor but, they will also have less access to efficient machinery that is eco-friendly. These mines won’t be sustainable simply because these miners will be working long hours and, under poor working conditions. Some of these mines might even have slave labour, depending on the country and government.

It isn’t just mining that is damaging the earth’s atmosphere, it is also harvesting pearls from oysters in the ocean. What farmers will do is collect the pearls from the oysters and then throw them back into the ocean. This leads to organisms being washed off the oysters, leading to an increase in algae and reducing deoxygenation in the ocean.

How The Jewellery Industry is Being More Eco-Friendly

The jewellery industry alone hasn’t made many changes in terms of being more eco-friendly however, many organisations have formed to make sure that the mines are more ethical. However, mining techniques have changed slightly to be more sustainable.

Low-Impact Mining Techniques

One of the most popular mining techniques is an open pit and underground mining. These undoubtedly contribute a lot to producing CO2. However, new methods are used to reduce the production of CO2.

One of the techniques that are currently being performed and are considered more eco-friendly is in-situ leaching. This is where boreholes are drilled into a deposit to extract minerals such as copper, uranium and many more. By doing this, they are reducing the chances of soil erosion and lowering interference with the surface.

Reusing Mining Waste

There are a lot of waste materials that are produced at these mines. Tailings, rocks and wastewater is produced during the mining process. Large structures of tailings dams can be highly damaging to the environment as well. However, there are ways in which companies can make use of the materials that are produced.

One way to make use of the materials that are produced is to use the rocks for basic on-site construction. They can either fill voids or reconstruct the terrain which has recently been mined to present soil erosion. Furthermore, wastewater can be used as a coolant or to suppress dust. Depending on the minerals, tailings can be used for producing bricks, paint extenders or even in agroforestry.

Eco-Friendly Equipment

Eco-friendly equipment is becoming more common with modern-day mines. Additionally, battery-driven machinery is now powerful enough to compete with diesel-powered machines. If the diesel engines can be replaced with electric engines then that will reduce CO2 production.

The whole mining industry is trying to drive the idea of electronic equipment. One mining equipment manufacturer called Epiroc is looking to be 100% electric and have several machines that are completely electric already.

Many changes are being made in the mining industry to become more eco-friendly. Like many industries, this is a slow process because it is a massive change.

How Does Environmentalism and the Jewellery Industry Collide?

The world is facing massive changes because of global warming and western society is realising that. Furthermore, sustainability is being pushed on the rest of the world. However, sustainability is just about being eco-friendly. It is also about the treatment of workers.

In the past few years, there have been many brands that have been criticised because of how they treat their workers. One of those brands is Nespresso as they were still using child labourers at some of their coffee farms.

For jewellery, blockchain technology is being heavily pushed in the industry. However, despite this being an improvement, a lot more needs to be done for it to become more sustainable. Blockchain technology is used so it can track where the materials. It also has all the data about the traders and which shops are selling these items.

What Is The Future of Eco-Friendly Jewellery

The jewellery industry being more sustainable is very far away, however, the right changes are being made. Mining is one of the biggest contributors to atmospheric CO2. There are going to be massive improvements once the machinery is fully electric.

If you wish to stop supporting these businesses that are not sustainable in the mining industry, there are a couple of ways around it. One of these is to start buying from fairtrade jewellery companies. Another way to make sure that you are not supporting these companies is by buying vintage jewellery.

Final Thoughts on Jewellery and The Environment

Although the jewellery industry is adapting to the world’s demands, there need to be more changes for it to become more sustainable. With the progress that the mining industry has made, there are going to be massive improvements with the jewellery industry soon as well. If you wish to do your bit in not supporting unethical mines, we suggest that you buy pre-owned jewellery. That way, you are making use of antique pieces that have been around for hundreds of years.