Our commitment to responsible sourcing is reflected in the materials we use in our jewelry. However, as long as there are problematic supply chains, we believe that it’s not enough just to choose “good” materials.
Responsible sourcing claims need to extend to supporting organizations working to change our industry for the better.
For this reason, Mercury Free Mining is an organization we’re proud to support on an ongoing basis. They were founded “to eradicate the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), ensuring the public trust in the jewelry industry gold supply chain.” (Read their full Mission Statement)
The harmful impacts of mercury use in gold mining are still relatively unknown to jewelry consumers in the United States - even as communities and ecosystems near gold sources suffer from the associated contamination.
Mercury has been used for centuries to increase the yield of gold extracted from the surrounding ore, yielding a higher profit for miners, but the human and environmental costs are steep. It “is a potent, permanent toxin that can poison the human body irreparably, causing neurological disorders, birth defects, and a multitude of other illnesses. Along with harm to miners and their communities, mercury enters into the atmosphere, and moves downstream from mining areas, through rivers, into the ocean, and into marine life. As an environmental contaminant, mercury is also exceedingly difficult to remove.”
One of the important ways that Mercury Free Mining is working to change the jewelry industry is by funding the development of technology that can yield results which are equal to, or better than mercury, at extracting gold. This organization recognizes that any viable solution cannot diminish the income of artisanal miners.
Dave and I were quite intrigued by a new technology called The Goldrop that we saw demonstrated by Mercury Free Mining during the Tucson gem shows last year. I had the opportunity to interview Toby Pomeroy, the founder of Mercury Free Mining, for an article in Ethical Metalsmiths’ blog The Source about field tests of The Goldrop at mining sites in Colombia.
The results in Colombia were promising, and this technology could mark a turning point in our industry’s contribution to the worldwide devastation caused by mercury pollution. Read full article here.
In October 2023, Toby Pomeroy traveled with The Goldrop to gold mining communities in Sierra Leone, and achieved more positive results. Read about it here.