Steering Clear of Unethical Jewelry Mining: Why I work with recycled paper

High end expensive jewelry is often crafted from materials that were dug out of the Earth, usually by children. By now, most people have seen and heard horrible stories of skinny children spending the majority of their lives down in a dark mine, inhaling dangerous particles, working for shit pay, and being killed by mine collapses.

There have been great strides made to mitigate the toll on human lives, with businesses pledging a “human rights due diligence” added to their business practice to ensure they are only sourcing from ethical supply chains. An example of this is the jewelry powerhouse, Tiffany & Co- they can trace their newly mined gold back to one mine of origin that is tightly regulated. Another popular company- Pandora- has been upfront about its due diligence research into its supply chain, and upon finding several non-compliant parts of the supply chain, they have taken further steps to fix the issues. Companies are well aware that their consumers care about how their jewelry is made, and whether it negatively impacted someone else on the other side of the globe. (Some people try to argue that those mining jobs are the only jobs for many people, and how could you deny them that income? Are we really going to argue about whether we should continue to let a five year old spend his life in a mine so he can make just enough to feed his family for ONE DAY? There are many, much bigger issues involved with child labor that need to be fixed, it’s not just about jewelry production, I am aware of that. Unfortunately, this is just one small head on the huge hydra of consumerism.)

There are still many mines around the world that operate under the radar, with no regulation and no regard for the safety of its workers. There will always be companies that look the other way, uninterested in the extra cost it takes to make sure their product is produced ethically. Those CEOs can’t take a pay cut, right? And just as unfortunately, there will always be consumers who don’t care about some kid on the other side of the globe who just suffered a broken leg when a rock fell on it, and whose family just loss their only breadwinner.

This is why I stick to paper. I have no desire to get set up to make mineral jewelry, and have to try to vet my supply chain. Besides the cost, there are so many more intricacies to mineral jewelry making that I don’t wish to partake in. I choose instead to create from “trash” and bring awareness to the darker side of jewelry production.

Paper- especially paper found stashed on a dusty thrift store shelf- is cheap, and didn’t take advantage of anyone in its creation. Forgotten paper deserves new life, and that’s my mission. Unfortunately, mineral and diamond mining is only one of the many industries that prey on the poor and uneducated, around the world.
For Cat G Design, I aim to create jewelry that is unique, colorful, and lightweight, and didn’t step on anyone’s neck during production. Paper has allowed me to do that, and create a platform that I can hopefully educate people and make them think twice before purchasing that shiny ring.

-Cat G

If you want to further educate yourself on the dark side of mineral mining, I suggest:

-The Human Cost of Jewelry: Human Rights in Supply Chains and the Responsibility of Jewelry Companies

https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/02/08/hidden-cost-jewelry/human-rights-supply-chains-and-responsibility-jewelry

-Ethical Diamonds: What Conscientious Consumers Need to Know

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