Industry Facts About Traditionally Sourced Jewelry

Statistics highlight need for greater social and environmental responsibility in the jewelry sector.
Jun 17, 2010 9:52 AM ET

The jewelry industry has operated in much the same way for decades. At Sulusso, we are working to raise awareness about current practices while offering sustainable jewelry solutions for conscious consumers. Below is a summary of statistics and facts surrounding traditional jewelry.

Metal Mining
  • 22 of 22 metal mines investigated by Earthworks were found to be contributing to water contamination
  • A typical gold ring results in 20 tons of mine waste
  • Cyanide and Mercury are typically used to separate gold from the ore
  • Metal mining is responsible for 96% of arsenic emissions and 76% percent of lead emissions in the US
  • Metal mining is the most toxic polluter in the United States
Unstable Governments
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo produces more than $2 billion of diamonds annually, but 90% of its population (60 million people) lives in poverty
  • 70% of the world's gold comes from developing countries such as Guatemala and Ghana
  • Nearly 2 million children work in mines around the world. Thousands more children work in cutting and polishing factories
  • Burma exports 80-90% of the world's rubies and jadeite
  • Madagascar produces 50% of the world's sapphires
  • Globally, metal mining employs less than 1% of the workforce but consumes as much as 10% of energy
  • Each diamond mine consumes 13 million gallons of diesel fuel annually to power generators
  • Genuine diamonds created in a lab are optically, chemically and physically identical to their mined counterparts
  • Most diamonds marketed as Canadian Diamonds are mined there, but then sent to India and Africa for cutting and polishing
  • Of the four major mines in Canada, only one is majority owned by a Canadian company
  • 65% of the world's diamonds are mined in Africa (annual value of $8.5 billion)
  • 46% of Angolan diamond miners are under the age of 16
  • Certified conflict-free does not mean that the diamond is "clean." It is still marked by severe social and environmental impact. It just hasn't been sold to fund armed conflict in a developing country

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