In New Zealand, it’s estimated that around 97% of gold used for jewellery is sourced through unethical mining practices – leaving indigenous land devastated in its wake.
On a mission to change the way we design, create and purchase jewellery is Good Gold: a proud family business pioneering the sustainable movement one ring at a time.
Laurel and Ash are married. Siggy and Laurel are best friends. After over 20 years in the jewellery sphere, the talented trio were ready for a new venture so set themselves the challenge of creating the world’s most ethical wedding ring.
Now, the Good Gold team craft minimal wedding rings by hand using New Zealand alluvial gold naturally washed down from the mountains by rainwater. It’s collected by small-scale local miners in order to safeguard the land before being lovingly crafted into rings in the team’s Nelson workshop. There are rose gold, white gold and yellow gold colourways to choose from which come in round or flat bands. Whichever style you choose, each beautiful piece is designed to be treasured for many years to come.
With the rise in lovers searching for sustainable wedding jewels, Together Journal caught up with Good Gold to find out how you can make one of the biggest decisions of your life, a responsible one.
Why is it important for couples to consider a sustainable wedding or engagement ring?
Traditional pit mining of precious metals is atrocious. To mine enough gold to make one wedding ring, 10-20 tonnes of mining waste is created, that waste consists of crushed rock and chemicals like cyanide and mercury that is used to separate the gold from the rock.
In many parts of the world, indigenous people have had their land stolen by big mining companies which is left devastated and unusable. You wear your wedding ring every day, I think it’s important to know that it’s come from good beginnings.
What should couples look out for when searching for a sustainable wedding or engagement ring?
Make sure the company can give a deeper insight into why their jewellery is sustainable, beyond the fact that they use recycled metal and conflict-free stones. These are both easy claims to make but in no way reflect any further research or thought into where their materials really come from.
It’s also a good idea to see if they’re a member of a trade group like Ethical Metalsmiths. If they’re truly interested in sustainability, they should also have blog posts explaining how transparent their supply chain is.
Is purchasing a second-hand ring a sustainable choice?
Definitely! We also love when people use heirloom pieces as their wedding rings. But this isn’t always an option for people and I do think that it is important to support disruptors that are actively trying to change the mining industry.
Couples should look for brands which give back. What inspired Good Gold to join forces with The Toolbox Initiative?
It was so important to us to find an organisation where the highest percentage of our donations went directly to the people that needed help as opposed to administration costs of a big organisation. What I love most about The Toolbox Initiative is that it directly supports independent jewellers in their own business as opposed to putting people to work in someone else’s company.
It’s such a cool exchange as well as the technique we learn from the jewellers we donate to is incredible, it’s a real partnership. Not only does the Toolbox initiative help by giving jewellers tools, they’ve also donated funds to enable jewellers to set up schools which teach kids English, French and jewellery making. It’s pretty incredible how big an impact a small group can make.
Should couples expect to pay more for sustainable jewellery?
Not necessarily, but there can be a bit of difference as some ethical materials are harder to get or more labour-intensive to deal with. On the whole, the prices should be pretty similar.
Is there a difference in the lifespan of sustainable jewellery in comparison to traditionally mined rings?
If rings are made of solid gold, they should last a lifetime or beyond. In our opinion, jewellers should always stand behind their work. Precious metals are tough, anything less than a lifetime guarantee is unacceptable.
Photographs by Ana Galloway. Visit Good Gold online or follow @goodgold.nz on Instagram to find out more.