Sustainability and jewelry making.
Balancing sustainability with gemstones, metals, and the chemicals involved in metalsmithing is complicated. I am very aware of the effects of all these activities on our environment so I endeavor to keep my impact to a minimum.
It starts with mining. Both gemstones and metals are mined from the earth.
Gemstones are used in jewelry to add color and sparkle, so now I select the ones I buy based on those attributes AS WELL AS their impact on the earth’s healthy balance. I avoid stones mined from some areas. For example, over-clearing is devastating Madagascar’s forests. I don’t buy gemstones from there. Instead, I prefer stones from small family mines or those who collect surface stones, and I deal with stone vendors I trust.
Lately, I have been purchasing rock slabs from American miners and so my husband and I are cutting and polishing the cabochons ourselves.
That said, I have a huge stash of stones I’ve been given and bought over the years when I was less aware and didn’t note the gem’s origins. They are beautiful. They are unknowns. I use them.
I buy silver from companies that recycle the silver already in circulation. Mainly, I use Argentium silver, which is only made from recycled metal. When I use gold, it is recycled, as well.
The activity of metalsmithing can be polluting, but this designer mitigates the impact whenever I can.
I follow all chemical recycling practices now recommended, and generally prefer using natural household common ingredients when possible: vinegar, salt, etc. It’s healthier for me and the earth.
And fabricating Argentium silver involves fewer chemicals, because it doesn't tarnish or fire scale like standard sterling.
Sustainability is a lifestyle, not an action.
It is a matter of caring. Just stopping a moment to think before doing something out of habit is all it takes. Because your mother did it is no reason to continue non-environmental practices. This practice has slowly migrated my studio toward sustainability. It’s important to me. I know it’s important to you. Buy with confidence.