When people think about ethical concerns about jewellery, they usually think of diamonds and gold and the conflicts, and working condition surrounding the mining of these commodities.
Fairtrade gold is now available, ensuring the workers are given a fair price and good conditions; and diamonds are increasingly traceable to ensure they are also sourced from reputable providers. However, although the fairtrade status of gold is important, I still much prefer to use recycled gold. T
The effects of mining for metal on the environment is quite incredible, with a 2004 report for Earthworks suggesting that for every ounce of gold mined, 79 tons of mine waste is created.
The impact of silver mining is less easy to calculate as silver generally comes to the market as a by-product of mining for other metals; copper, zinc and gold. In 2005 only 30% of silver came from stand alone silver mines. But with metal mining overall believed to cost the environment around 10% of world energy usage, arsenic emmissions and cyanide poisoning I just want to distance myself from it as much as possible.
Luckily these days recycled silver is widely available, and I use this option wherever possible. Recyled gold too is more readily available than it has been for years.