Ring Sizing Tips

By Anna on December 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

Ring sizing can be confusing, so we’ve laid out some tips below to help you get the most accurate read on your ring size.

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Finger size can vary depending on the season, the temperature, the time of day, and the design of the intended ring. Fingers tend to shrink a bit in the cold, so:

-Measure rings sizes when your fingers are warm towards the end of the day.

-Keep in mind that a more delicate ring will fit more loosely; a more substantial ring will fit more tightly.

-Generally, the average woman’s ring size is around 6, and the average man’s size is around 10.

The best way to find your ring size is to go to a local jewelry shop to get sized. Although jewelers’ measurements may vary slightly, this is the most accurate method. There are several online printable paper ring sizers, but these are usually inaccurate.

If you are trying to get your partner’s ring size without letting them know:

-Measure the inside diameter of one of their existing rings. Wikipedia has a helpful measurement and size conversion guide.

-Ask around. Your partner’s family and friends might know.

If you purchase an engagement or commitment ring from us, and it doesn’t fit, we’re happy to resize it for you within 30 days.

Fair Trade and Fair Mined Gold Survey

By Anna on September 11, 2009 at 6:34 pm

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Calling all jewelers. The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) have been working together for the past three years to develop fair trade gold. In advance of their plans to launch fair trade gold in 2010, the organizations are asking those in the industry to help provide some information to make the launch as successful as possible, and to maximize the adoption and sales of fair trade gold.

ARM and FLO are looking for jewelers, goldsmiths, designer-makers, large and small retailers, manufacturers, refiners, bullion dealers and gold traders to take the survey.  You can take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=rPcDXz0aFnxTa3N21y2mVQ_3d_3d and it only takes about 10 minutes.

Greg Valerio, on behalf of the Fairtrade Foundation UK, writes of the fair trade gold efforts:

‘The adoption of fairtrade gold by the industry will hail significant developmental impact for the millions of small-scale miners around the world and will play a foundational role in addressing the negative environmental impact of mining as a whole. The fairtrade gold standard has been 3 years in the creation through an extensive international multi-stakeholder consultation process. The final standard is now out for public review at www.fairtrade.net/setting_the_standards.html or www.communitymining.org/ so in addition to contributing to the market survey you can also review and comment on the standards behind the fairtrade gold offer.’

Some Facts About Palladium

By Page on August 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

What is Palladium?palladium-ring

Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white grey metal. Palladium, along with platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs).

Palladium is similar in color to platinum, but is a bit more gray.  If we use the CIE lab system to refer to “whiteness” in  metals, where zero is black and one hundred is white, pure silver rates 93, platinum alloys are about 87, palladium alloys are around 84 or 85, and most white golds range from 78 to 83. Like platinum, palladium will develop a hazy patina over time. Palladium is much more affordable than platinum. It isn’t as dense as platinum, though it is about 12% harder.

We encourage customers to opt for palladium over white gold because it is a pure metal with naturally white properties, giving it no need for rhodium plating. White gold by itself is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats. (Karats refer to parts out of twenty-four, so 14k gold = 14 parts out of 24 parts pure gold, or about 58% pure gold.) White gold’s properties vary depending on the metals and proportions used. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for different purposes; while a nickel alloy is hard and strong, and therefore good for rings and pins, gold-palladium alloys are soft, pliable and good for white gold gemstone settings, sometimes with other metals like copper, silver, and platinum for weight and durability.

Almost all white gold jewelry is rhodium-plated since gold alloyed with palladium or nickel never comes out true white, but tinted brown, therefore requiring a thin layer of rhodium to mask the tinted shade and make it true white. About one person in eight has a mild allergic reaction to the nickel in some white gold alloys when worn over long periods of time. White gold alloys made without nickel are less likely to be allergenic.

The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be re-rhodium plated approximately every 12 to 18 months.

Cool Tools: More Safe Studio Practice Tips

By Page on July 10, 2009 at 11:14 am

COOL TOOLS
Chemical Responsibility – Disposal solutions for the studio
By Helen I. Driggs, Managing Editor

Excerpt from the Jewelry Artist

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One of the simplest things you can do to lessen negative environmental impact is to reduce chemical use in the studio and select less-toxic alternatives for those that can’t be avoided.

The most commonly used studio chemical is pickle, and many jewelers are making the switch to citric acid pickle, a less-toxic alternative that is now available from major suppliers. When handling acids, employ proper safety precautions, and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Citric pickle should be used warm, with proper ventilation, to reduce required cleaning time. It takes a bit longer than other types of pickle, but citric pickle is still quite effective, and many jewelers prefer it.

To reduce the amount of pickle you need, use a small potpourri size warming pot to replace larger crockpots. Jewelry items are small, so this little pot will serve most jewelers’ needs, reduce chemical use, and save money. When it comes time to change spent pickle, you will have less to dispose of, which will make it easier to follow proper disposal procedures.

When used properly, a pickle solution will work effectively for many months, or even up to a year before it needs to be changed.

To keep your pickle strong, avoid introducing baking soda into the solution. Be sure to rinse tongs, baskets, and jewelry from your neutralizing bath before returning them to the pickle. As water evaporates from the solution, simply add more water. If the pickle is weak, add more acid. Steel adds an electrical charge that turns pickle into a copper-plating bath. However, as soon as the steel is removed, the pickle can be used again as normal. On the rare occasion that the solution contains small steel particles that can’t be removed, it will need to be changed.

Continue reading Cool Tools: More Safe Studio Practice Tips

Tell Secretary Clinton to Condemn Killings in Peru

By Anna on June 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

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From No Dirty Gold:

Killed for protecting their land from mining
On June 5th, World Environment Day, Peruvian security forces killed at least two dozen indigenous people protesting to protect their lands around Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon. In the violence, nine policemen perished as well.  The protesters were opposing the Peruvian government’s opening of the region to oil and gas drilling and mining — supposedly conditions of the Peru-US trade agreement.

So far, the U.S. government has not responded. Urge Secretary Clinton to make clear that the U.S. -Peru trade agreement does not infringe on the rights of indigenous people, and also to call on Peru’s government to respect the human rights of indigenous groups.

More info:

Democracy Now

No Dirty Gold

LA Times


Sundance Channel Show Features ‘No Dirty Gold’ Campaign

By Anna on May 31, 2009 at 11:14 am

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EcoTrip: The Real Cost of Living, a Sundance Channel show, just released a new episode that focuses on the true cost of a gold ring that’s made from virgin metal at an irresponsible mine in the US. The host’s conversations with Shoshone elders (whose land and water is threatened by gold mining) and Tiffany CEO Michael Kowalski are high points.

Here is a link to the video.

Safer Studio Alternatives for the Jeweler

By Page on May 25, 2009 at 8:42 am
Our Friends at the Society of American Silversmiths compiled a list of safer alternatives for a jeweler’s studio. We will continue to update the list as new methods are added.

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3M Radial Bristle Discs

Small-but-sturdy “bristle discs” are new abrasive products from 3M. 3M radial bristle discs, in 1-inch diameter, stacked together on a mandrel using a 1/8-inch screw, can tackle tough metal deburring, cleaning, and finishing requirements in the hardest-to-reach places.

Radial bristle discs are designed with abrasive-filled bristles that apply a continuous fresh supply of mineral – without damaging the underlying surfaces. Tough but flexible, these discs conform to the contours of the work piece where intricate designs, tubes or corners make finishing, cleaning and deburring difficult.

They’re also safe for the user, as they eliminate the dangers of flying metal wires posed by wire brushes and also can replace chemical use in some applications. In addition, their unique, patented design resists gumming and loading, so bristle discs work fast on soft or hard metals to produce a consistent, uniform finish. One-inch 3M radial bristle discs are suitable replacements for hand files, wire brushes, hand scrapers, and traditional grinding discs used for sanding, surface preparation, and coatings removal.

The one-inch 3M radial bristle discs are available in four grades: 36, 50, 80, and 120. Additional members of the small 3M radial bristle disc family include a 9/16-inch, as well as 3/4-inch size. These smaller discs fit mandrels with a 1/16-inch screw and are available in finer grades (120, 220, 400, 6 micron and 1 micron) and pumice for finishing and polishing applications. The 3/4-inch size also comes in grade 80. All grades are color-coded for easy identification.

Larger sizes up to 4.5″ are also available. You may find that Scotch-Brite wheels can accomplish the same tasks when using abrasives of these larger diameters.

These discs are worth a try. Most jewelry supply companies now carry a wide array of sizes and grits. Though their lifespan is shorter than traditional bristle wheels, they certainly have many applications including surface preparation for soldering and brazing without the need to remove buffing compounds. They are also excellent for removing corrosion.
Best deal on the internet: Santa Fe Jewelers Supply

Continue reading Safer Studio Alternatives for the Jeweler

CAFOD Demands Action As Community Fears Poisoning By Honduras Gold Mine

By Page on April 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

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CAFOD and Canada’s Development & Peace demand action from mining giant Goldcorp as villagers fear gold mine is poisoning people and the environment in Honduras.

Catholic aid agencies CAFOD in the UK and Development & Peace in Canada are calling on multi-million pound mining giant Goldcorp to ensure their San Martin mine in Honduras does not leave a toxic legacy when it closes at the end of 2009.

The San Martin mine in the Siria Valley is the largest opencast gold mine in Honduras, run by Entre Mares, a Honduran subsidiary wholly owned by the Canadian-US company Goldcorp Inc. The company has consistently disputed test results confirming the presence of arsenic and cyanide in water sources flowing from within the mine boundaries.

Last month 24 dead cattle were found on grazing land near the mine; while large numbers of the local population, including children, have been suffering skin conditions. Local people believe this is a result of pollution caused by the mine. Goldcorp denies this has any connection with their operation.

Legislation regarding mining in Honduras is weak, and the government has done little to ensure the rights of affected communities are protected.

Sonya Maldar, CAFOD’s extractives policy analyst said: “Despite repeatedly raising our concerns with Goldcorp, and on the basis of the evidence we’ve seen, the company has yet to live up to its social and environmental responsibilities at San Martin. With the mine due to close at the end of 2009 and all the signs showing there is serious pollution at the site, Goldcorp must act now to ensure they do not leave behind an environmental disaster in Honduras.”

The mine, which began full operations in 2000, has caused controversy from the start, with local people claiming they were not fully consulted about the project.

Love Saint-Fleur, advocacy officer for Development & Peace said: “Pollution from gold mines can continue for hundreds of years after closure – unless strict measures are put in place to counteract it. If the company is not willing to act in a socially responsible manner, the Honduran government must protect the rights of its own people by ensuring Goldcorp cleans up the San Martin mine site and prevents the poisoning of water sources.”

During the mine’s period of operation, the company used the controversial cyanide heap-leaching method to extract gold from low grade deposits. This means piles of crushed gold ore are soaked in a solution of cyanide which filters down leaching out the gold deposits and releasing other toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Without careful management, these pollutants can seep into streams and contaminate groundwater. This practice is banned in some US states.

The issues:

Cyanide and arsenic contamination and Acid Mine Drainage
Over the past five years, numerous tests carried out by CAFOD and Development & Peace partner Caritas Tegucigalpa and the Honduran government show evidence of dangerous levels of arsenic, cyanide and other heavy metals in water sources flowing close to or from within the mine boundaries. In 2007, the Honduran Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA) fined Goldcorp one million lempiras, equivalent in value to about £26,000 at the time, for pollution and damage to the environment. The company has consistently disputed these tests and has appealed against the fine.

In 2007, the Latin America Water Tribunal ruled on a complaint filed by members of the Siria Valley communities, finding Goldcorp accountable for damage to the environment and unreasonable use of water in the Siria Valley. The tribunal recommends that a thorough investigation into the health of local communities is carried out and that all mining activity is suspended and the communities are compensation for the damage caused.

During a visit to Honduras in November 2008, Professor of Hydro-Geochemical Engineering at Newcastle University Paul Younger – a world expert on mine water management – noted signs of Acid Mine Drainage close to the mine site. Acid Mine Drainage – a process whereby sulphides in the rock are exposed to oxygen and water and react to produce sulphuric acid – can have devastating impacts on the environment, contaminating groundwater with toxic heavy metals and killing plants and animals for years after the mine closes.  Professor Younger’s observations noted discolouration of streams indicating a flow of acidic waters coming from the mine perimeter.

Alleged health impacts

Communities in the Siria Valley have complained of health problems, including respiratory, skin and gastro-intestinal diseases, which they believe is a result of drinking water polluted by the mine. A study carried out by the Honduran Department for the Environment in 2008, found high levels of heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and mercury in blood samples taken from villagers living close to the mine. The study has yet to be published by the Honduran government. Goldcorp denies that the health problems are a result of their operations.

The people of the Siria Valley have repeatedly called on the government to provide medical care for those whose health is allegedly affected by the mine. In March this year the people of the Siria Valley protested at the Health Ministry demanding action by the government.

Water shortages
As well as pollution, communities living close to the mine have complained that heavy water use by the mine, in an area already prone to drought, has caused wells to dry up. During operations, the mine was authorised to use up to 220 gallons of water a minute and during the construction of the mine, Goldcorp used more than 60,000 gallons of water per day, while villagers had to buy water.

Displacement of communities
The small village of Palo Ralos was demolished to make way for the San Martin mine. Fourteen families were relocated to a new settlement with the same name 900 metres from the mine. Nine years after relocation nine families have not received legal titles to their new land and houses from Goldcorp. Those families who did eventually receive land titles from the company found that they contained errors, for example the wrong name or identity card number, which they fear could undermine their legal validity. They fear eviction when the mine closes and the company leaves Honduras.

Lack of consultation and information sharing Community representatives have consistently complained that they were not consulted adequately about the plans for the mine and did not give their consent to Goldcorp for the mine site to be developed. The people of the Siria Valley have also found it extremely difficult to obtain accurate information about Goldcorp’s operations at San Martin, including the controversial mine closure plan. A copy of the plan was requested from the government as far back as August 2007, but not obtained by Caritas Tegulcigalpa and the community until October 2008.

Loss of farming land and deforestation
A large area of agricultural land in the Siria Valley has been damaged by the San Martin mine. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for people in the region. A socio-economic study in 2003 estimated the impacts of the Goldcorp mine on local farming by comparing the situation with baseline data from 1993. The survey showed that the quantity of land under cultivation in 2003 was well below the levels of 1993.   Approximately 1,000-2,000 trees were cut down by the company to make way for filtration ponds and other aspects of mining infrastructure. Deforestation has exacerbated the problems of water shortages and soil erosion in what was already a dry area. While some reforestation work has been carried out by Goldcorp, many of the trees planted are from different species to those found naturally in the area.

Mine closure
With mine closure imminent, it is essential that Goldcorp has a comprehensive and technically sound closure plan in place to ensure that the Siria Valley communities are protected from any long term environmental hazards. CAFOD commissioned Professor Paul Younger, of Newcastle University, to review Goldcorp’s mine closure plan.  His analysis revealed several major concerns, indicating that the plan falls far short of international best practice standards that would be acceptable in Europe or North America.

CAFOD and Development & Peace are calling on Goldcorp to:

* Prevent contamination of local water sources, clean up existing contamination, where found, and contain acid mine drainage to ensure a safe and clean drinking water supply in the areas affected by the San Martin mine.
*Allow independent monitoring of the mine’s environmental performance, including water monitoring.

* Compensate the community for contamination caused by the mine.

* Strengthen and improve the mine closure plan, in line with the recommendations of Professor Paul Younger, the Honduran authorities and civil society organisations. Full details of the plans for mine closure should be made available in an accessible format to the population of the Siria Valley.

*Provide investment for the ongoing social and economic development of the Siria Valley, in consultation with the communities and local authorities.

*Provide legal land title deeds for individual plots and communal areas to all the families in Palos Ralos, relocated to accommodate the San Martin mine.

*Accept responsibility for any human or animal disease which is proven to be a result of mining operations in the area, and provide appropriate compensation.  It should be understood that such responsibility may only be discovered in the future, after the closure of the mine.

* Set aside sufficient financial guarantees or bonds to ensure funding of any reclamation work that may emerge in the future, after closure of the mine.


The Money Stone

By Anna on April 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm

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The Money Stone is a soon-to-be-released documentary by Stuart Harmon that focuses on the lives of artisanal gold miners in West Africa. The film follows three artisanal miners: a digger, a miller and a refiner in Ghana, and the policymakers who attempt to regulate illegal galamsey mining. Galamsey mining is the livelihood of more than one-million workers in Ghana, a huge underground industry that damages the health and environment of the miners, but also provides much-needed income.

The extended trailer alone (available here on the Money Stone site) touches on so many of the environmental, political, and human rights issues -mercury poisoning, legality, lack of regulation. We can’t wait to see the film in it’s entirety.

Mining Reform Bill Re-introduced to Congress

By Page on March 14, 2009 at 11:36 pm

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Thanks to the Ethical Metalsmiths for the update!

President Ulysses Grant, signed a mining law in 1872 that remains the law of the land. Its purpose was to promote the settlement of publicly-owned lands in the west. The law prioritized mining over all other uses, land sold for $5 per acre and pick and shovel mining was the rule. Today public land is still sold to domestic and foreign mining corporations at rock bottom prices and mining still trumps all other uses. The law does not protect the environment from the impacts of large-scale industrial mining taking place today, and unlike the oil and gas industries, mining companies pay no royalties!

On January 27, Congressman Nick Rahall and 21 co-sponsors introduced The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009, H.R.699. Its passage would balance the need for mining against other land uses and establish environmental and reclamation standards that protect community health, water supplies, fish and wildlife. Passage of this bill would be a big step in improving mining practices in the United States. For comprehensive information about mining reform we refer you to the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining.

Jewelers and metalsmiths and customers have a stake in the outcome. Increasingly, people who buy jewelry want assurance that the materials are from ethical sources, and with few exceptions, we are unable to trace materials to the source. Jewelers have always recycled gold, and using recycled gold from a responsible supplier is a good choice. However, if you envision a future in which metals are more responsibly sourced, from mines that are regulated by federal law and meet modern environmental standards, you should back this bill.

Recycling precious metals is a tradition we can be proud of and it is a good choice. However, if we want to improve mining in the US, recycling is not enough. Recycling has no effect on mining practices and sidesteps the need for real change. Big mining interests (and their lobbyists) will be in Washington “crying crocodile tears.” Legislators need to hear from us too! You can do more than recycle. You can use recycled gold and do what you can to encourage the mining reform bill. In the coming months, we will let you know how.