We tend to believe that the “fast fashion” industries and their half-siblings “fast fashion jewelry” are the main culprits in causing environmental damage. Did you know, however, that mining just one 0.333 ounce gold ring creates around 20 tons (!) Of mine waste? This shocking estimate by Earthworks certainly puts things into perspective: while making fine jewelry is much less polluting than making “quick jewelry,” there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Buying fine vintage jewelry is the most sustainable avenue there is when it comes to jewelry purchases. It solves the three most polluting aspects of contemporary jewelry production.
Vintage Fine Jewelry does not create toxic pollution
The mining of industrial-scale jewelry – for precious metals or gemstones and diamonds – has a number of harmful effects on our environment: from erosion of land and leaks of chemicals into water supplies, to dramatic changes in air quality and loss biological diversity. Extraction techniques sometimes involve removing surface soil and using chemicals that can lead to the formation of sinkholes, soil contamination, and alteration of the ecosystem of a particular region.
Due to the open pit mining and leaching of cyanide heaps, this process produces a gray liquid sludge that contains cyanide and toxic heavy metals and is often discharged into natural waters. For example, the Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea releases 5 million tons of toxic waste into the Pacific each year.
Vintage jewelry means that none of the extraction and mining techniques are used. When you buy fine vintage jewelry, which as a rule of thumb is characterized by excellent durability, you are also extending the life of the beautiful piece of jewelry without further polluting the air, soil and water.
Vintage Fine Jewelry: Zero Waste
Branded jewelry now makes up 20% of the total jewelry market and its share has doubled over the past two decades. The constant pursuit of “fast fashion” adds to the waste problem, and according to data, a whopping 120,000 pieces of fashion are thrown into landfill every hour Jewelry Industry Report in 2020 from McKinsey.
Fine jewelry has stood the test of time and the materials used for fine jewelry are of course designed to be durable. For example, gemstones, silver, gold and diamonds, which can withstand practically all damage imaginable, are timeless and the desire to own them has not ceased since the dawn of human civilization. The quality of the materials and craftsmanship of vintage and antique jewelry hold their value and there is no compromise on the quality or beauty of the piece of jewelry. These are items that you will want to wear often and for years to come. That is, instead of buying an average of 20-30 pieces of costume jewelry every year and throwing them into the landfill at the end of the season, you end up with a piece of jewelry with character and authenticity that is impossible to reproduce and that is so aesthetically pleasing, you will be cherished Vintage jewelry never tired and can combine any jewelry from ancient times with a modern wardrobe.
Fast consumption promotes consumerism, more waste in landfills
We buy more than three times what our parents did for clothes, accessories and jewelry. However, we often give these things little, if any, wear. Remember that people bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than in 2000, but kept the clothes only half (!) That long. Fashion and costume jewelry companies offered from two collections per year in 2000 to five ten years later and up to 24 collections per year (Zara) in 2019.
The rapid consumption further increases the amount of waste in manufacturing, the disposal of items that are not of high quality and very poor wearability, and get bored with the bracelet of this fashion brand that does not transition well into the next season.
Vintage and antique jewelry will never go out of style, because its historical value, excellent workmanship and elegant aesthetics ensure it has a place in the fashion world for decades and is also a good investment.
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