Why Antique Jewellery is Better for the Environment
Precious metals, diamonds and gemstones are mined, shifted, refined and, eventually, the components come together as a piece of jewellery. This long process can be tough on the environment, and, in an increasingly eco-conscious world, it has never been more important to reduce the impact that jewellery manufacturing has on the planet.
Truly sustainable modern jewellery can be hard to find, but buying antique jewellery is a great way to reduce the need for further mining and manufacturing operations – making it a truly environmentally friendly option.
The negative environmental impact of mining
Both diamond and gold mining operations are damaging to ecosystems and the wider environment in different ways. Only their consistent profitability justifies their continuation, despite the ongoing effects they have on the world.
Environmental impact of diamond mining
Diamond mining is arguably less impactful on the planet than extracting metal from the earth, but the effect is still considerable. Research has shown that mining just one carat of diamonds causes up to 3.1 tons of earth displacement, 8.9 litres of fuel consumption, and 2534 litres of water usage. Extrapolating this data, to reach the estimated 147 million carats of diamonds mined worldwide in 2018, the impact of the diamond mining industry is over 455 million tons of earth displaced, 1.3 billion litres of fuel burned and 372 billion litres of water used. There are more than 50 active diamond mines in the world; around 80% of them don’t report on the effects they’re having on the environment.
Environmental impact of gold mining
Gold mining has greater consequences – often with more immediate repercussions. Modern gold mining techniques such as open-pit mining displace huge amounts of earth looking for traces of gold – up to 20 tons worth for just a few grams of metal.
Chemicals such as mercury and cyanide help extract the gold, and many gold mining operations fail to discard the waste materials responsibly. Often, these harmful chemicals are dumped in rivers, clogging the flow of water and poisoning wildlife.
Antiques are green
Antique jewellery breaks the cycle of jewellery production. By buying antique, you’re extending the life of a piece of jewellery that’s already been mined, manufactured, and distributed.
Period jewellery was made by skilled craftspeople hundreds of years ago, before the introduction of mass-scale mining. The gemstones and metals in antique jewellery don’t cause further damage to the environment and chances are that they were sourced more responsibly than they would be in modern production.
Not only is antique jewellery eco-friendly; it’s also long-lasting. Mass-production, for all of its benefits, is still primarily a cost-cutting exercise and the jewellery often has a short lifespan. Antique jewellery, however, has already proven that it can last the test of time and is likely to last long into the future too.
Eco-friendly engagement rings
Antique engagement rings are becoming ever more popular. Not only are they the ethical choice in terms of protecting ecosystems from further damage, but they’re also symbolically resonant, representing the longevity and romance of a relationship.
They’re also unique, with detail and workmanship across the Art Deco, Victorian, and Georgian era that is impossible to find in modern pieces. Rather than choosing a homogenous modern engagement ring, it might be wise to find a ring that is both distinctive and doesn’t cause further harm to our planet.
Every piece of jewellery we sell is vintage and second hand, meaning not one of them has had an additional impact on the environment since they were first produced. We work with the Antiques are Green Association, a company that promotes the green credentials of antique and vintage products. And we are partnered with Stop Blood Diamonds, an initiative to reduce the negative impact diamond mining has on workers in the industry.