Recently, there has been a large movement towards purchasing more eco friendly products. The same is true in the jewelry industry. We want the best styles, but we also want to protect the planet. You can go green while adding the glam.
While the world prizes the beautiful diamonds, precious metals and colorful gemstones produced naturally by the earth, many are concerned about the repercussions for mining these valuables. Though practices remain much the way they have for hundreds of years, there has been progress towards less invasive ways to mine the glorious minerals. In addition, organizations like Earth Works Action and the EPA are working to put new technologies in place to effectively reduce emissions, leaching and unfair work practices within the industry.
Today, mining with organizations like these ordaining their practices are much more envirmentally friendly than they were just several years ago. But for those who still want to further protect the earth which has provided this beauty, there are other options.
In addition to purchasing natural gemstones, you can look for created gemstones. Created gemstones are exactly the same as a natural gemstone in every way from color, hardness, composition and appearance but is formed in a lab able to reproduce the exact conditions needed in nature (heat and pressure) to create the real thing. Since they’re made by man above the ground, there is no mining. Another positive with created gemstones is the price. Since there is much less labor involved, they’re priced much lower than their verified natural cousins. And since there are no surprises when creating a gemstone in the lab, created gemstones don’t have inclusions the way real gems do. They’re effectively a perfect representation of the original, free from defects yet they retain the stones’ core qualities in color, hardness and composition. Some of the most common created gemstones on the market today are sapphires and rubies from the corundum family, alexandrite and aquamarine.
Another option, similar to created yet entirely different, is purchasing pearls. Almost all of the pearls on the market today are cultured meaning they are effectively “planted” into an oyster and raised through aquaculture. They still undergo the same process as natural pearls, but get a simple push at the start and are kept safe by their keepers. Since the oysters that produce pearls are quite picky, the water is kept free of pollutants and is stringently monitored for cleanliness. In addition, once a pearl reaches the intended size (often several years), the oyster shell that produced it is used for mother of pearl jewelry, buttons or art work. Little goes to waste, the water is kept clean and a beautiful pearl results. Whether you choose saltwater Akoya pearls or freshwater pearls, it’s a win-win.