Saying ‘I do’ to recycled wedding rings

Andrew ‘put a ring on it’ over six years ago and this summer, I lost said ring. Rather embarrassingly, I lost it in our house, somewhere upstairs, possibly in the bathroom.

I was bathing the kids, took my wedding ring off, went to put it back on a bit later and totally forgot where I put it. It hasn’t been seen since. I have a feeling Joni may have had something to do with its disappearance but she’s never ‘fessed up. So last month I decided to give in and buy a new one.

I knew a little bit about diamonds, having written for a diamond website back in the day, but I knew nothing about platinum. I had a feeling mining for anything wasn’t going to end well for the environment and platinum is no different. Although apparently not quite as bad a gold, platinum mining is still pretty bad.

I didn’t find out just how bad until I decided to write this blog post, after Andrew had bought me a replacement ring.

I did some research and decided to get a new ring from the company Brilliant Earth, their jewellery is reasonably priced, we’re definitely not talking Elizabeth Duke at Argos here, but we’re not talking Cartier either. Interestingly, Argos no longer sell their Elizabeth Duke range, a staple of my teenage jewellery box, possibly because three of the top search results for ‘Elizabeth Duke Argos’ have the word ‘chavvy’ in them.

Brilliant Earth have a fantastic website, beautiful rings and clear information about where the metal in their jewellery has come from. The new ring on my finger could have once been part of a mobile phone, a computer hard drive, or another piece of jewellery. I like that this ring has a history, it’s like it’s slowly been making its way to my finger via a multitude of past lives.

Married life is back on after 6 months with a bare finger

Once I sat down and started writing this blog post I decided to look up some facts about precious metal mining so that I could deliver some cold hard facts to the zero amount of people who read this blog.

What I found has made me so glad I took a bit of time to source a recycled platinum ring. Once again, writing this blog has taught me that I know so very little about where the stuff I buy comes from and the destruction that’s involved in making the vast majority of it.

Forget the romantic image of individuals panning for gold in small creeks. This is industrial sized mining that obliterates landscapes.

So here goes, these facts are taken from this report from Earth Works and although they’re mainly about gold, much of the information can be applied to mining any precious metal:

  • metal mining accounts for 10% of the world’s energy consumption. TEN. PER. CENT.
  • it uses vast amounts of fresh water, just one mine in Nevada goes through 100 million gallons of groundwater in one day
  • much of the water used in the process ends up being highly toxic, with such delights as arsenic, mercury and cyanide, and this often gets dumped or is leaked into nearby rivers or the sea
  • for every ounce of gold produced, there are 79 tonnes of mine waste. I don’t do maths but even I can see this is not a good return
  • local communities are displaced and have little or no access to their own land if large mining corporations decide to mine there, many workers mine in extremely dangerous conditions

There’s lots more. I feel as though if I find my missing wedding ring (which was not made from recycled platinum) then I’ll have to sell it and give all the money I get from it to an environmental charity. Such are the guilts.

I also have a Tiffany’s & Co diamond and platinum engagement ring. I remember at the time we got it feeling smug that the diamond in it is ethically sourced but I’m guessing there’s a high chance the platinum isn’t. And now I’m starting to question whether the diamond in it is as ethical as Tiffany’s & Co claim. I daren’t look into it. So for now, I’m not going to.*

I’ve said it many, many times but I amazed at how so many different things we buy are riddled with ethical issues and most people, myself included, have no idea. When we bought my original wedding ring and my engagement ring I had no idea where the platinum came from. In truth, I didn’t even really know what platinum was.

I’m not ashamed of my cluelessness, as I’m still learning. I also strongly believe that companies like us consumers to be clueless, as if we ask too many questions about how products are made or disposed of, we might just start to make more eco-friendly choices about what we buy.

Now I’m taking the time to learn more about the impact my lifestyle has on the environment and taking more responsibility for it, I am more in control of what I spend my money on, and it feels good to make my own decisions.

 

*Of course, I did have a quick look and looks like Tiffany & Co are at least trying

 

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