It’s worth noting that with the rise of consumer awareness and increasing demand for gold that is not tied to human suffering and environmental destruction there is greenwashing occuring. The Responsible Jewelry Council’s standards and their verification procedures have been called into question as “more shine than substance.”
But there are some better options. Here are some words to know:
Fairmined: a certification through the Alliance for Responsible Mining that assures that gold marked with the Fairmined label comes only from small scale mines that are responsibly managed and meet requirements for work conditions, environmental protection, and organizational and social development.
Fairtrade: similar to Fairmined, Fairtrade certification means that the gold has come from mines that meet environmental and safety standards and pay their workers a living wage as well as a ‘premium’ to spend on community projects such as education and healthcare. At this point Fairtrade gold is labeled only in the UK but that may expand soon.
IRMA: Still in the final phases of development the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance is seeking to create a set of standards that will provide independent auditors the ability to grade large industrial mines and certify mines that meet their expectations.
Recycled: recycled gold is gold that has been previously mined, refined and made into jewelry before being melted down to be made into something new. Recycled gold is, from my perspective, the best way to go as new mining does not occur. I also just love the idea of wearing jewelry that had a previous life in another form.