by Staff Writer
An eco-friendly lifestyle is no longer difficult to achieve. Eco-friendly homes, cars and clothing all make it easier for you to care about the planet and remain fashionable and care-free. Eco-friendly jewelry is a wonderful way to accessorize your favorite organic cotton jeans and soft bamboo T-shirt. You probably aren't very surprised to learn that you can stay green and wear beautiful jewelry. Eco-friendly handmade jewelry, fashion jewelry and fine jewelry will add color and style to everything you wear while keeping you guilt-free. This eco-friendly jewelry buying guide offers some ideas for applying a green-living philosophy to your jewelry buying decisions.
An eco-conscious awakening: Mankind has loved the shine of gold, sparkle of diamonds and glow of gemstones for centuries. We've used these precious materials to adorn amulets and jewelry, to symbolize status and ceremony. We've also spent a lot of energy searching for precious metals and colorful gemstones -- digging up the land and disrupting the eco-systems. Fortunately, as people become more aware of our detrimental effects on ecology, an eco-consciousness is growing in the jewelry industry. From fine jewelry to fashion jewelry, earth-friendly accessories are becoming very popular.
Mining for beauty: Most precious metals, diamonds and gemstones are found through mining, a process that displaces large amounts of earth. Hard-rock mining uses chemicals to leach metals such as gold from earth and leaves these chemicals in the ground. Consumers have encouraged efforts to find a more environmentally responsible way to gather natural materials. Some producers are beginning to listen as campaigns for ethical mining take hold; the movement encourages better working standards for miners and reducing mining's impact on the environment. As this trend continues, it will become easier to find jewelry made of materials that were mined in a more earth-wise manner.
Recycling beauty: Recycled jewelry offers a wonderfully responsible way for you to add earth-friendly treasures to your collection. This recycling takes two forms: reusing and caring for vintage jewelry and incorporating recycled non-jewelry items into new jewelry pieces. Many companies will purchase old gold jewelry to melt and resell to manufacturers. Recycling precious metals reduces the need for extracting more from the earth and keeps the metals in the marketplace instead of lost in drawers, closets and scrap heaps. Look for recycled jewelry made of gold, recycled silver and other recycled materials when you're shopping. You can also find great pieces of handmade jewelry that incorporate recycled glass, beads made from discarded magazines and recycled plastic.
Supporting small producers: Artisans around the world handcraft beautiful art, jewelry, clothing and practical household items. Businesses with an interest in social responsibility are giving these skilled craftsmen and craftswomen new access to the global marketplace by paying them fair prices and wages for their goods. When you buy handmade jewelry from artisans, you can own a one-of-a-kind piece and help support fair trade, which provides support for livable wages in developing communities. Artisans often use sustainable and recycled local materials, such as grasses and copper, to create earth-friendly jewelry. Many pieces of handmade jewelry also incorporate local tradition and art.
Considering vintage jewelry: Many collectors love vintage jewelry, and some of these jewels are displayed in fine museums. These beautiful pieces are eco-friendly because they are essentially recycled. You can own lovely, one-of-a-kind antique rings, bracelets, brooches, necklaces, earrings and hair accessories and reduce waste at the same time. Even better, estate jewelry often features the highest quality of craftsmanship, and these pieces always connect you the artistry of a previous era.
Fine jewelry: Fine jewelry helps reduce waste by giving you investment pieces that will last a lifetime. Buy just one or two great pieces of fine jewelry to wear on special occasions instead of acquiring a drawer full of jewelry you rarely wear. Reducing frivolous consumption is an important element of the green lifestyle. Concentrate on finding high-quality jewelry in classic styles.
Cultured pearls: Make pearls your gem of choice. Cultured pearls, which include almost all the pearls available in today's market, are farmed through aquaculture. Farming in water is considered less damaging ecologically than mining for gemstones on land. Pearl producers carefully maintain the cleanliness of the water within their farms because the pearl oysters will not thrive in polluted water. The oyster shells are used for other products, such of mother-of-pearl jewelry and buttons.
Contemporary style: Fashion trends continually change, and the cute new jewelry designs can be hard to resist. When looking for casual jewelry, consider items made of sustainable products, like necklaces with hemp or cotton cords. Choose decorative wood and glass beads instead of plastic, which may not be easily recycled. Finally, avoid trendy jewelry that you'll only wear one season; you'll spend your wardrobe budget more responsibly and reduce the amount of trash sent to the landfill. When you're finished with a piece of jewelry, consider reselling the item or using the components to make a new piece yourself.
Created gemstones: Created gemstones are a wonderful alternative to mined stones. Created gemstones are more affordable than natural stones, and they can be as beautiful as the natural gems. These gemstones feature two distinct forms: lab-created stones, like created rubies, which have the same physical properties as the natural stone; and simulants, like cubic zirconias, which resemble natural gemstones but don't have the same properties. Some people prefer to wear created gemstones as green jewelry rather than the rare gems found through extensive mining. There is some debate as to whether created gemstones are earth-friendly jewelry or not. They are made of chemicals, and some are mass-produced; however, the manufacturing of created gemstones may have a less harsh impact on the environment than mining for natural stones.
Stay informed to make the most of living green. Read, ask questions and be aware of the latest news in the green jewelry movement. Remember that environmentally responsible manufacturing practices are an evolving trend. Keep searching for green jewelry and accessories; more options are coming. Don't forget to be positive. Your efforts, grand or small, help us all protect and enjoy Earth's natural treasures.