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Environmentally Aware Goldsmiths?


I was hoping for some input and suggestions from anyone in the
jewellery market who is environmentally aware.

I am currently a student in Toronto at the George Brown Jewellery
Arts program. I want to create an essay (and book) based on ways
that you try to lower your impact on the Earth in our trade. Do you
collect all your gold and silver for smelting? What lengths do you
go to?

Are you more likely to suggest a customer buy new stones or reuse
their old jewellery to create new pieces?

Does your shop buy jewellery to disassemble into its starting
elements? Have you tried alternative mediums for your creations?

Are you aware of where your stones come from? How they are mined or
treated? What circumstances they are acquired in? What is in your
shop that is environmentally friendly? What do you do with your
chemicals? How do you deal with casting waste?

Any other you have would be great to hear about. I will
be certain to post the essay after its finished - and give credit
where it is due, so make sure to leave your name and shop details.
Perhaps even include pictures of pieces you have done that are
environmentally aware, or created using alternative materials.

I am working towards creating a book about this as well.

Thank you for your time and community!
Inquisitively yours
Heather L. Morigeau

Do you collect all your gold and silver for smelting? What lengths
do you go to? 

This issue isn’t about the environment. It’s about money. All
jewelers (well I hope all jewelers) know that nothing should get
thrown out that might have precious metals in it. There’s
gold/platinum/silver dust everywhere in a shop. Carpets need to be
refined, aprons, sweeps from your floor, everything. But again, this
has nothing to do with helping the environment. It’s about helping
yourself stay in business.

Are you more likely to suggest a customer buy new stones or reuse
their old jewellery to create new pieces? 

Only if a customer wants me to. However, 95% of the colored stones
that I see in customer’s pieces are of fairly low quality. Do I
really want to put a piece of junk into a beautiful piece of jewelry?
Sure if they want to pay for it, but I would always prefer that the
level of quality is consistent throughout the piece. Same goes for
diamonds, but only about 75% of that is junk.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi There,

Regarding the colored stone market…Most large suppliers only buy
precut stones from Asian markets (Thailand, India, China, Sri Lanka)
and are not aware of the ethics and environmental impacts that the
mining causes. They are looking for the cheapest deal! Period! I have
talked to several colored stone wholesalers and this is the way it

However there are some enterprising ambitious entrepreneurial types
working with gem miners paying fair prices for gem rough and making
sure the mining is done in a safe a friendly manner. I am one of
those ambitious types…I have several close relationships with
miners in Africa and Asia and I have contributed thousands of dollars
to promote the local mining industry with providing modern machinery
and innovative sustainable infrastructure so that the locals are
making a sustainable wellbeing and paving the road to a better way of
life. My gems, which I all cut by myself, are exquisite works of art
and are absolutely symmetrical, have superior polish and are cut to
proper angles to maximize brilliance. I can guarantee origin,
authenticity, fair trade, etc. I dare you to go and ask your current
supplier if they can 100% identify the complete origin of their
stones from mine to market.


Jeff Nechka
Premier Gems Ltd.

Like Jeff, we also work directly with mining consortiums and
individual miners who certify to us- with references- that their
mining is done in as ecologically-responsible manner as possible as
well as verifying that workers are treated as employees and not
slaves. Unfortunately that precludes our working with many of the
larger mining concerns and thus we pay a higher price for rough, but
as our gemstone pieces are either cut by me or through our sole
cutting partner we consider the finished stones to be premium due to
the care exercised in their cutting and the vision that goes into
those special pieces. As I cut much of our rough to complement
asymmetrical jewelry designs, we aren’t major producers of finished
gems or jewelry and can afford to spend some time verifying our
sources as far as possible. It’s actually sad commentary that Jeff
and others like us have to label our work as “premium” or “fair
trade” in many instances simply to separate ourselves from the rest
of the unscrupulous horde.

There are many ways to support independent businesses which treat
their employees and Mother Nature with respect: find out which of
your suppliers has a procedure to handle hazardous substances and
recycling, talk with your jobbers and reps to find out if they know
how friendly their companies are to their employees and the
environment, and so on. The Heifer Project is a non-profit
organization that teaches sustainable agriculture methods and
responsible natural resource management through donations of seed
and livestock, money for school supplies and basic health care,
well-drilling and other aid to specific regions around the world.
When we contribute we’re able to direct money and resources to the
regions from which we purchase our rough, and thus give back (in some
instances) to the very miners and their neighbors.


Clyde Gilbert
Greenwood Studio