It is a huge challenge to jump straight into the sea of one of the most defying industries and try to dodge the bad practices, such as trafficking, money laundering and destruction that characterize it. But this was the task Wonther chose to undertake. Mining is the 2nd most polluting industry in the entire world and, for the time being, almost all the entire jewellery and watch industries rely on it to do business. Nonetheless, Wonther is committed to change this and to create beautiful jewellery pieces, not only in shape but in meaning and purpose as well.
And how is this possible? The best way to go green is through responsible sourcing and recycling - during which no properties are lost. It is possible to recycle metals and still come up with clean and high-quality gold and silver, for example.
So, what is wrong with the mining industry?
The act of extracting metals and minerals can be harmful both to the environment and to those who work directly on it. Sourcing these materials usually implies excavations in inhospitable places and unsteady grounds, making it difficult to ensure if proper safety and control measures are being implemented. Besides these risks, it’s worth to mention some others like:
- Water pollution - Mining generates high concentrations of chemicals that will then reach water bodies deposits, contaminating them and affecting all beings that have contact with it.
- Biomagnification – A lot of small animals that live in or nearby mining areas are continuously consuming and exposed to heavy metals. These are then consumed by animals above them in the food chain and so on. The toxic metals will pass on, through feeding relationship, until reaching the top of the chain – us, humans.
- Biodiversity loss – To carry out excavations, large areas of untouched lands are being destroyed or modified. Many animals that inhabit these places will never be capable of adapting to their new surroundings or feeding themselves, ending up dying.
- Scarcity of natural resources – Nowadays, we are extracting some minerals and metals way faster than their capability to form naturally, which means that it will be increasingly harder to find them out there.
- Erosion – By mining, we are exposing large areas to the erosion effect, deforming habitats and foundations. These, alongside machinery vibrations, weaken mining sites, turning accidents and collapses more likely to happen.
What is Wonther doing to radically change the industry?
At Wonther, we started by ensuring that we were doing things the right way. Now, we are pushing others to do the same. When we show that it is possible to change, to do better, we are telling others that they are not doing enough. That was what our customers helped us confirm right after we launched 'Love, Give Back, Repeat' – Wonther’s silver closed-loop recycling campaign.
- We only use materials from suppliers certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, whose origins we know respect human rights and the environment
- We choose to use synthetic diamonds, the same beauty, no harm
- We use as much recycled gold and silver as possible
- We wrap our pieces in sustainable and handmade packaging
- We support local producers
- We avoid using plastic as much as possible
- We are committed to becoming carbon-neutral
What can you do as a consumer to force this shift?
We should put our money where our values lie, so our actions can drive real change. You can also help by:
- Buying from brands with solid ethical, social, and sustainability commitments
- Asking brands what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint
- Demanding to know where and how are the materials sourced
- Demanding to know where and how are the pieces produced
- Researching about living conditions in the country where the materials and products are sourced and produced
- Being aware of workers' rights and ask brands about it
- Recycling jewellery pieces you don't use anymore
- Thinking critically about low-cost products and what they represent
A piece of jewellery is a gorgeous thing that can be passed on through generations and that can have a powerful meaning, such as a wedding band or our grandmother’s favorite necklace. That is why it’s even more important to choose a piece that respects both the environment and the people who helped create it, so it can have a lovely story too. We really need to commit to saving our planet and our surroundings because, yes, jewellery pieces are truly beautiful, but our planet and human rights are even prettier.
All photography copyright of Wonther