Responsible Gold

Guilt ridden I am - I recently read “The price of Gold” an older
article published by Ganoksin.

I am a environmentally conscious person and now I am feeling major
conflict over the work I sell. This is coming at such a bad time - I
have been working for years to be financial independant and now that
I have finally reached the goal of living off my work, I am having
this conflict. I can’t afford to revert to just selling silver and
continue to be self employed. Is there a casting company that uses
only scrap and reclaimed gold? Right now I use Billanti. Perhaps
another option would be for me to bite the bullet and simply bring my
casting in-house. In such a case, is there a reliable source for
casting grain that comes ONLY from reclaimed scrap gold?

Thank you

Guilt ridden I am - I recently read "The price of Gold" an older
article published by Ganoksin.
http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/the-price-of-gold.htm 
I am a environmentally conscious person and now I am feeling major
conflict over the work I sell. 

My first post to the list! (Hello! :slight_smile: )

As a just-starting-out person in silver and goldsmithing (I’ve been
making beaded jewellery for years), the ethics of the materials I
use concerns me too. I’m not sure that it would be possible to be
100% certain about every stone and every gram of metal, but I’d like
to do my best. Asking my wholesaler if they can tell me the origin of
the silver and gold I buy will be a start - I live in Australia, so
(I assume, please correct me if I’m wrong) it’s highly likely that
the metals will have been mined and processed within the country,
which would at least in theory mean that this has happened under
Australian industrial and environmental laws, a known quantity to me
as opposed to what might go on in developing nations that have more
easily exploitable labour and so forth.

I certainly don’t expect that the wholesaler could tell me which
mines the materials have come from, though I think most of the
precious metals mined here are done so by just a few larger outfits
(presumably BHP, etc). There’s a set of guidelines that many mining
companies are signatory to:

which would again in theory mean they ought to be aiming for
ecologically sustainable and ethical practices. I realise
discovering the actual practice would require some research.

And the same applies to stones. I’d like to “buy local” and
ethically where possible. It’s not always going to be possible, but I
will at least make the effort.

  • Sonia

(PS - I’ve often wondered if “new age” retailers selling tumbled
stones as crystals promoting peace/wellbeing/etc have considered the
origins of such…I’m not sure that a stone that’s been blasted out
of the earth and processed by someone earning 20c a day has such good
"vibes".)

Is there a casting company that uses only scrap and reclaimed
gold? Right now I use Billanti. Perhaps another option would be for
me to bite the bullet and simply bring my casting in-house. In such
a case, is there a reliable source for casting grain that comes
ONLY from reclaimed scrap gold? 

Check with your local pawn shops. You can often get scrap gold from
them at very reasonable prices. I have done so in the past, it is a
nice way to go if you are looking for generic 14K yellow for casting.

Lee

I am a environmentally conscious person and now I am feeling major
conflict over the work I sell. 

Do you also feel guilty about all the plastic water bottles you use?
And the aluminum cans? Steel cans? Paper? The electricity to power
your computer and your flex shaft, that was made with nuclear or
coal energy?

If you’re living in the industrialized west, you get to feel guilty
just for waking up. The way most of us live is doing environmental
damage.

So, feel free to get worked up about gold use, but feel guilty about
all the rest too.

Or, just throw up your hands and say, oh well.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I am a environmentally conscious person and now I am feeling major
conflict over the work I sell. 

Do you feel conflict over using your computer? There are
environmentally destructive elements used in every computer. Do you
feel conflict over using your car to get places? Cars use oil,
something that is rapidly turning into the most environmentally
destructive stuff out there. Do you feel conflict over turning on the
heat in your house (or the air conditioning)? Same thing. Do you eat
meat? Methane gas from cows is harming the environment every day.

All we as humans can do is minimize our impact, but we will never
get rid of our impact on the Earth. If you decide to stop using gold
it won’t have one iota of impact on what is being done out there. Not
one mining company is going to stop their operations (especially not
with current gold prices). Using recycled gold only won’t truly help
either because by selling your gold work to the public you are just
increasing the desire in general to own gold jewelry and most
jewelers can’t use only recycled gold.

And how about this? When you switch from using a casting operation
like Billanti’s, which is relatively energy efficient because of the
quantities they produce, to setting up your own operation in house,
which, unless you’re doing thousands of castings a week (which it
doesn’t sound like), is going to be far less energy efficient, what
extra damage are you doing to the environment? Additionally you’re
going to go out and buy all that new equipment, all of which uses
energy to produce and various elements to make that will be taken
from the earth as well. So while you may be helping (albeit very
slightly) one impact by using your own recycled gold, you’re doing a
whole lot of other damage to the environment at the same time.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-234-4392
@Daniel_R_Spirer
www.spirerjewelers.com

Guilt ridden I am 

Most of the gold I use is recycled. Which sounds all warm and fuzzy
enough. This is certainly what I tell anyone who asks. But think
about the reality of that. Recycled gold comes from so many sources
and gold has been recycled for so long that my material contains
matter that has been associated with pretty much every sin and evil
mankind has ever committed. Certainly some percent of it was
originally mined by slaves, financed wars, stolen, fought over, paid
for every vice imaginable. It has also been given and invested in
the most honest and generous causes. It has been fashioned into
symbols of love and devotion. As money it has paid for homes,
temples, hospitals and schools.

If you insist on virgin gold, you must tolerate the impact of mining
on the landscape. But the very fact that you add to the demand for
gold, even if you can be sure that the source of your material is
green-friendly, adds to the price pressure to mine more, wherever
and however it can be done.

If this kind of thing makes you crazy, I think it is better to use
some other material. Governments should enforce safe mining rules.
The very few consumers and jewelers who are conflicted by these
issues are not going to make much difference.

Stephen Walker

I am a environmentally conscious person and now I am feeling major
conflict over the work I sell.

Weeelll, good luck with this one. Everything we use, buy or create,
comes from the earth. The question could be one of levels of
sustainability.

We can stomp around in a hummer, and we can walk, and everything in
between. Mud huts to gold bricks. We can use resources for cheap
schlock, and we can use them for quality built to last. Problem is,
sometimes it is hard to tell just which is which? Well built forever
schlock, beautifully designed chintzy cheeseballs, and beauty is
without a doubt in the eye of the beholder. Welcome to planet earth
2006. I personally try to use and reuse as much as I can, as well as
making quality and made to last. Seems like there are a few billion
differing points of view, and thousands of “right” ways to do
anything. Make the best you can, with your best intentions, be as
kind as you can, and go for it! If it is not working for you, change
and do something different. We all have a limited time engagement
here Sierra Salin north of “Frisco”

Elaine, and Folks,

So, feel free to get worked up about gold use, but feel guilty
about all the rest too. Or, just throw up your hands and say, oh
well.

You know, there IS a happy medium between feeling guilty about
’everything’ and saying ‘oh well’.

Personally, I try hard to eliminate disposable items or items I know
were extremely harmful to the environment. I don’t eat fish or
seafood; I don’t use paper towels or paper napkins. But, I do use
toilet paper. I try to be a responsible consumer and still live
pretty normally.

Wanting to contribute to conservation efforts, in however small a
way, should never garner such ridicule from people. We should
applaud every effort to be better stewards of the planet, it is the
only one we’ve got.

I say BRAVO to everyone making any effort to reduce negative impact
on our environment.

Sincerely,
Dawn B. of Taylor, Texas

To answer Daniel and everyone else who asked “Well are you conflicted
about using” cars, computers…the toilet etc., the answer is yes and
that’s why 65% of the time I’m embarrassed to be a human being. If
I’m not careful I will find myself in an every day battle with
misanthropic manic depression.

When the human race finally “does itself in” this planet’s going to
breath a sigh of relief and grow green again - albeit a heavy metal
contaminated, nuclear waste infested green. In the meantime, I guess
I’ll just continue to do my part to destroy the world.

Thanks all for the pragmatic smack in the head.

if i am reading your email correct you are looking for someone that
will cast your gold not new casting grain. if this is correct i have
been using a great caster in the Detroit area for melting down
customers old gold. his name is Ray. you can contact him through his
wife Beth, she does the cad end of the business. her email is
Bethidzikowski@aol.com or you can call Ray at 248-559-5919

Matthew

Do you also feel guilty about all the plastic water bottles you
use? And the aluminum cans? Steel cans? Paper? The electricity to
power your computer and your flex shaft, that was made with nuclear
or coal energy? So, feel free to get worked up about gold use, but
feel guilty about all the rest too. 

This argument has been echoed by others on this list. I personally
see it as fallacious.

Imagine going to a doctor for help in overcoming the nicotine habit,
only to be told "well, you’re also sedentary, overweight and your
eating habits are

not the best; you must tackle it all immediately or just forget
about it and continue as you have been." Most of us would immediately
recognize this as bad advice.

The argument that we must not seek to address any of the world’s
ills unless we are prepared to overcome them all immediately is
similarly flawed, and is at its root an argument guaranteed to
paralyze any movement towards productive change.

My counter-argument is that this world has inequities and injustices
aplenty, more than any one person can take on. We must deal with it
the same way we would eat an elephant- pick a spot and take a bite,
and where you begin doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you
begin.

So I said all that to say this; there may not be any one great
answer to the question of responsible gold, but it is good that the
question is asked and

the possibilities explored. The fact that other social and
environmental ills also exist in no way invalidates the question.

There are several approaches if one seeks to minimize ones
culpability in the social and environmental issues connected with
gold- one can work in silver or other metals, one can conceivably
purchase gold directly from a producer which mines it in a socially
and environmentally responsible manner. One can use techniques like
kum-boo which utilize minimal amounts of gold to good effect as
surface ornamentation. One could lessen one’s consumption by using
depletion-gilded tumbaga. One can lobby legislators to enact better
regulation of the mining industry. One can seek to educate the
public as to how current mining practices make gold unattractive in
its human and environmental impact, and encourage adornment with
other metals.

I am sure that these are just a few of the many possible ways to
address the problem. I think it is ironic that if the question were
one of a technical nature, this list would likely be flooded with
helpful advice and innovative solutions, but that responses to a
question of social responsibility are in some cases dismissive.

Lee

All,

I think that what Dan is saying is that no matter what man does, it
impacts the environment. This, of course, is true of all species. In
man’s case, the impact is far greater because we are not unlike a
metasticizing cancer. We are feverishly replicating, not just in
terms of population expansion, but more importantly, in impact on
environment, devastation of resources and degradation of environment.
We worship at the altar of "growth is good, growth is progress "
whereas, in reality, it may, indeed, be lethal. Nuclear
proliferation is a good example. My view of responsibility is that we
should do everything possible to thwart rampant, mindless expansion
until we can get a handle on what our impact might be. Scientists are
already talking about the point of no return; ergo the irreversible
threshold !

As I have said before, nature corrects her mistakes…things that
don’t function properly don’t evolve, and, if they don’t fit into the
grand scheme of things and if they are ecosystem incompatible, they
become extinct. In this case we are talking about how a given
organism fits into the overall scheme of things.In the case of man,
there is little to support his ecological compatibility.

If I had to single out man’s most significant failing it would be
that he has come to think of himself as being a God. Certainly he
has come to associate himself with deities because of anthropomorphic
deification…we see god in our own form. In reality we are such a
microscopic entity in the overall scheme of things that we would
better serve our sense of reality by thinking of ourselves as
microbes. Somehow, I think that we are not going to give up our
delusions until we experience a catastrophic event. We are too
comfortable with our fantasies, assumptions and creature comforts.

I know that what I have been venting about is only distantly related
to our mundane daily endeavours. On the other hand, if any of us
sense that things are not quite what they should be, they should be
entertaining the possibility that a wider viewpoint should be
encompassed. I am not advocating involvement in a “movement”. I
merely suggest that we should not become so complacent about the
status quo that we are lulled into a state of
semi-conciousness…after all, Costco, Walmart nor Home Depot will
not save us if things go bad !

I know that a lot of you will find all this talk boring and
irrelevant, but whatever happened to the inquiring mind.?..Ron
Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca

You know, there IS a happy medium between feeling guilty about
'everything' and saying 'oh well'. 

Of course I know that. My point was to be aware of your environmental
footprint. And unless it is as small as it can possibly be, it is
inconsistent to worry about just one aspect of it.

I don’t use paper towels either, I use cloth towels, but an
environmental expert friend argues I’m doing more damage by using so
much water!

All the choices are complicated and it’s hard to win.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi folks - I hope I’m not being too long winded here. Feel free to
stop or delete at any time.

In the big picture I think it makes sense for any individual to
"start where you are". If one aspect calls to you, moves you to make
a change then that’s a good beginning. It would paralyze any of us to
think that the only valid way to make change is to address everything
at once. We don’t even know what “everything” is.

On the specific topic of responsible gold - I have been buying gold
an platinum from a small company in Columbia Oro Verde/ Green Gold
Corporation.

The gold and platinum are certified sustainably mined and fairly
traded by an independent organization.(The IIAP) Green Gold
purchases from artisanal miners in the Choco region of Columbia.
These communities of miners have agreed to a stringent list of
"green" practices including replanting of the areas they mine, no use
of mercury or other dangerous substances. In return, they gain land
that is livable, water that is potable, ponds that can support food
fish, etc. and they are guaranteed a return on their gold of 10% over
spot. I actually feel good about every ounce I buy knowing that my
money is going to families and community sustainably harvesting their
local resources. Okay, then I alloy it with your everyday copper,
silver, etc. mined in the usual non-eco-friendly ways. Still - I
believe, there is great value in supporting this type of system. The
Association for Responsible Mining (ARM is made up of individuals
who throughout the world who are working together to help foster more
of this, to get corporations and governments to move to more
sustainable and fair trade practices.

I’ve heard that the major percentage of gold in circulation is
actually recycled - if everyone on Orchid who cared about “dirty
gold” asked their suppliers to furnish 100% recycled gold (keeping
separate any newly mined material) I’m sure it could be, in fact
eventually would be done. Probably for a premium but what would it
really require of a company as large as Hoover and Strong, Hauser and
Miller or Rio Grande to run all the scrap they receive separately
then mill as usual to provide 100% recycled content (at least the
main metal if not the alloys). I think it is exceedingly rare that
companies make this kind of move on their own initiative. I believe
this sort of change comes from the consumer side - people asking,
saying, requesting, demanding alternatives, offering some proof that
there is a market worthy of the effort. How many jewelers would it
take to get one supplier to take notice? How many collective ounces
would need to be purchased over the course of a year? For myself I can
tell you that my business has nearly doubled in one year and I
believe it is entirely due to the change to green gold and platinum
and recycled silver. I believe the customers for this are out there
in great and growing numbers. There are very few of us right now
offering anything to meet that desire partly, I think, because the
materials are not easy to come by. I think this could be changed.

Remember when there was no such thing as post-consumer recycled
paper? When 10% recycled paper content was a big deal? Change often
starts small. Remember when only “mother earth granola types” bought
organic produce? And now major supermarkets and places like Costco
carry some ( no doubt a somewhat watered down version of “organic” but
still-progress).

in support of small changes,
Miche

http://www.sumiche.com
custom fine jewelry using fair trade/certified green gold and platinum
http://www.eco-gold.net

Hi Everybody,

As a guy trying to get recycled gold (not mined lately, recycled
from old jewelry scrap) to those who care about the difference… As
casting grain, solder, and wire… I’m terribly disappointed by
Nodirtygold.org folks for making sweeping acusations about gold
mining and the jewelry business. One claim-For every ring produced
there is twenty tons of “mine waste”. Thats just ridiculous, as no
mention is made of refined gold or mines that try to operate with
minimal impact on the environment.

my worry is our customers will read this (in the NY Times no less)
and shy away from gold. What shall we say to these "over the top"
propagandists at nodirtygold.org?

Please join me in contacting The world Gold council, MJSA, and JA
and ask them to respond, or give us a sense of direction on how to
best oppose this kind of unwarrantred attack on our trade.

Daniel Ballard
PMWest

actually, we should find their members and directors, and look at
the content of their:

  • teeth
  • contacts on their cell phone
  • metals used in the chips of the computer that hosts their website

this is a version of a very old rant: no mining. what I don;t get:
all metals come from the ground, all natural gemstones come from the
ground, the toothpaste that they use (hopefully) to brush their
teeth comes from the ground, the zinc and steel in the expresso
machine they made their coffee in this morning. that is the basis of
modern civilization. I assume that these people are part of it. or,
perhaps not, maybe they live in a remote area, without modern
technology or modern medical care, and really don’t brush their
teeth, in which case they will have a low life expectancy anyway

In my opinion, one could say that these people may be hypocrites.

if they truely do not like gold, maybe they will sell you whatever
gold they have at 1/2 of spot (what was their phone number?)

Don’t worry too much about it - gold, and mining it, is the world’s
oldest profession. what response? other than stifling a yawn.

FYI, on low grade ores, where you have 0.06 ounces of gold per ton,
yes, that work out to about 1 ounce of gold per 17 tons of rock. So
what. helps us understand just how rate and valuable this metal
tru\ly is.

But, if they decide it is too dirty, i will happily buy it at 1/2 of
spot. subtracting the weight of the dirt from the total, of course.

regards

http://www.artclayworld.com/makes.html PMC is the other
manufacturer of precious metal clay. I recommend Art Clay over PMC
because in the research I've done, I haven't found anything about
the recycled metal content of PMC or efforts by PMC to minimize
environmental impact. If you're not at all familiar with precious
metal clay, visit: ArtClayWorld.com. 

I don’t know for a fact that Precious Metal Clay is made from
recycled metal; however, I think it is. Why? Because Mitsubishi
Materials Corp., the maker of PMC, processes 10 TONS of precious
metals a year. That’s what they do – deal with reclaimed and
recycled metals.

For whatever reason PMC doesn’t seem to have made this fact a big
part of their marketing campaign.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Elaine,

Because Mitsubishi Materials Corp., the maker of PMC, processes 10
TONS of precious metals a year. That's what they do -- deal with
reclaimed and recycled metals. 

I think you will find all major metal refiners/sellers will be
handling large amounts of recycled precious metal all the time. I’m
sure Hoover and Strong is handling similar types of quantities as
will most of the major dealers.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
@Daniel_R_Spirer
www.spirerjewelers.com

PMC is the other manufacturer of precious metal clay. I recommend
Art Clay over PMC because in the research I've done, I haven't
found anything about the recycled metal content of PMC or efforts
by PMC to minimize environmental impact. 

I asked Tim McCreight about this and he said that all metal clay
is made from recycled metal.

Lisa Orlando

Daniel Ballard,

Your very conscious comments brings me to the following thoughts.

What we all need to be aware of is the agenda of those “do gooders.”

It is all too easy to provoke negative action against "perceived"
miscreants. We see here on Orchid in regular cycles, attempts to
jump start some action or other. Frequently, this will generate a
thread such as this one, and the fur will fly.

Anyone deciding to join a parade, needs to know just who the actual
orchestrator is, as well as the agenda.

Returning the Earth to Green after we have “nuked” ourselves is as
much a fantasy as some of the anti campaigns are.

Some countries are working diligently to convince their aboriginal
peoples to stop relocating to more greener pastures, when the land
they most recently moved onto has been totally used and cut bare. Is
this the Green we are to return to?

Some of our “jump on the bandwagon” actions cause starvation against
the very peoples we are “protecting.”

Please look before leaping.
Terrie