Commitment to the environment and human rights is the core of every decision we make.
WEND carefully sources the metal, gemstones, and packaging for our jewelry, considering the environmental, labor, and societal impact of every resource we use.
We are working towards a zero-waste studio, becoming the first Enviro-Star certified Jewelry brand in Washington State. We make your jewelry as you order it, reducing resources and waste.
Metal makes up the majority of our jewelry, so let’s start there.
Newly-mined gold is devastating for the environment. Gold mining accounts for much of the burning and destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest, vast amounts of mercury contamination, cyanide-poisoned waterways and communities, human rights abuses including the subjugation of women and even outright slavery.
At WEND, we use a combination of Certified Recycled Gold and Fairmined Gold. There are only a few SCS (Scientific Certification System) Certified Gold recycling facilities in the United States, and the majority of our gold comes from one of them. Here is more about the SCS Certification process.
In the rare event that we are unable to use Certified Recycled Gold, as sometimes happens with gold chain, we use Fairmined Gold. Fairmined is an assurance label that certifies gold from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations who meet standards for responsible practices.
We steer clear of newly mined ore as much as possible. The world has more than enough gold out of the ground to meet our needs, but because gold is so expensive, there will always be a market for newly mined gold, no matter what the environmental cost.
We choose to re-use.
WEND does not buy gemstones from 99% of the suppliers we come into contact with.
If we aren’t certain of a gemstone’s provenance, cutting, polishing, and journey through the supply chain, we do not purchase it.
We don’t intend to make gemstone suppliers uncomfortable with our long list of questions. But we need to understand their practices on child labor, slavery, worker fatalities, vulnerability of women in the mines, and the gem cutting and polishing practices that put lives in danger.
Cutting and polishing colored gemstones is a life or death issue. When proper equipment isn't utilized, the result can be silicosis (a deadly lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust). The first 4 minutes of this video show how this disease plays out in India, a major cutting center for colored gemstones.
The most serious issues in the mining of colored gemstones concern human rights abuses. However, we have an equally long list of questions about impacts to the environment.
How much do they disturb the land when they mine the ore? Do they use explosives to create the underground mines? Do they re-plant the land after cutting down the trees which are in their way?
colored gemstone sourcing
1. Certified Fairmined from the most renowned ethical supplier in the US, Columbia Gem House.
2. Mines in the US (preferred) or in countries with enforced environmental and labor standards such as Australia and Canada.
3. Artisanal and Small-Scale mines which prioritize human rights and the environment. The main way this happens is if the mines are run by women (very rare, but the movement is underway).
4. Post-Consumer Recycled Color Gemstones – When we buy clients’ gold, we also buy their gemstones. We love to find ways to re-use them, as they are usually in perfect shape and have a story of their own to tell.
5. Family mines when we know and stand behind the history and provenance of the gemstones.
6. Your gemstones. We love to re-imagine your old jewelry into modern heirlooms!
Diamonds come from deep within the Earth and are often found in the most vulnerable communities around the globe.
Like gold, the mining of diamonds can be devastating to the environment, the miners, and their communities.
Since the Blood Diamond days of the early 2000’s, laws (namely the Kimberley Process) have been enacted to improve standards.
However, human rights abuses continue in atrocious ways.
The definition is way too narrow. The Kimberly Process only covers diamonds used by rebel groups to finance conflict aimed at overthrowing governments.
It completely misses diamonds associated with armed groups who are not fighting governments, or military exploitation for personal gain, or violence committed by government or private security forces against people on or near mining areas, or widespread environmental damage that undermines local health and livelihoods.
If you’d like to dive deeper, check out this 32-page report by the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, titled “Real Care is Rare”. It is an eye-opening, well-researched document detailing the situation in diamond mining as of September, 2019.
1. Post-Consumer Recycled Diamonds:
We buy diamonds that have lived a previous life in jewelry.
Sometimes they are quite old and have an Old European Cut, sometimes they are re-fashioned to a Rose Nouveau cut, and sometimes they have a Round Brilliant Cut.
2. Canadian and Australian Diamonds:
Our rustic diamonds (diamonds with inclusions, sometimes called Salt + Pepper) mostly come from Canada or Australia.
Most rustic diamonds on the market come from Africa. At this time, there is no good way to ensure that human rights abuses and environmental destruction are not part of the equation.
WEND sources diamonds where slavery is not an issue, where laws are enforced, and where mining's inevitable environmental destruction is mitigated.
3. US or European made Lab-Grown Diamonds:
Diamonds grown in a lab eliminate the need to dig them out of the earth.
However, not all lab-growns are created equal. Labor and human rights standards are not readily enforced in the most common lab-grown diamond-producing countries. As a result, basement sweatshops and child-labor violations are common.
WEND only uses lab-grown diamonds from countries that enforce labor and environmental standards.
Questions to ask
If you are shopping around, here are some questions to ask prospective stores, brands, and jewelry designers.
Change in the jewelry industry starts with you. Jewelry should bring nothing but joy, and least of all, harm.
1. Where was this piece of jewelry fabricated?
2. Was child labor involved in the supply chain of this piece?
3. Where does the metal in this piece come from?
4. Is the metal either post-consumer recycled or Fairmined?
5. What do you know about the origin of the gemstone?
6. Do you know what mine the gemstone came from?
7. Do you have a personal connection to the mine?
8. Where and under what circumstances were the gemstones cut and polished?
9. If you didn't make the piece, do you know who did? Did they have access to a living wage, safety gear, and ventilation?
10. Will any percentage of the purchase price of this jewelry benefit the environment, human rights, or animal welfare?
P.S. WEND supports an alignment of definitions when it comes to an ethical jewelry practice. We love the Jewelry Glossary Project for that reason.
Jewelry should bring nothing but joy, and least of all, harm.