Is Your Jewelry Ethical?

RJMHave you some trinkets lying in your home without any use and you are buying new ones? They may be gold, silver, gemstones, or anything of that sort. Have you ever thought that you can use the same pieces to make new ones? Yes, you certainly can and that will be shown to you by the passionate and enthusiastic members of Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM), an international mobile project for jewelry mining and recycling. The project is hosted by Caterhine J. Smith Gallery & Art Department of Appalachian State University. It is a subsidiary project by Ethical Metalsmiths, which is a nonprofit organization, created for spreading awareness of sustainable and ethical mining amongst artisans. This is the seventh project since its inception in 2007 at Virginia Commonwealth University. It is headed by Susie Ganch, who is a studio artist and also an associate professor of arts at the university.

The students have got trinkets, lying without use in the houses, in donation, which they are converting into new recycled ones.

Another attempt of Ethical Metalsmiths is towards transparent supply chain, which refers to helping jewelry consumers and artisans to track the origin of their jewelry for confirming that the metal has been mined from sustainable mines. But this task is quite difficult and here, Radical Jewelry Makeover plays an important part.

In addition to being taught to recycle the old jewelry pieces, instead of buying new unethically mined jewelry, the students are also taught about ethical metal mining issues, as per the design of RJM project. When it was found that Ethical Metalsmiths too is fighting with the same issues in the jewelry industry, related to unethical sourcing of the jewelry materials, Ganch teamed up with Miller of Ethical Metalsmiths.

Ganch says that the oversupply of jewelry made every year shows that most of the things are made for only one season and then it goes for landfill. According to Ganch, they are not made for long term, but only for trash can. And unethical sourcing of jewelry also gives rise to many other environmental as well as health issues. According to the report given on website of Ethical Metalsmiths, 96% arsenic emission and 76% lead emission is resulted from metal mining, in the US.

This truth gave rise to an idea, in the minds of Ganch and Miller, of creating and spreading awareness about sustainable mining for jewelry industry and educating the community, which resulted into the formation of RJM.

RJM students travel to different locations and one month before their exhibition, collect unused, broken jewelry from people. Then the artists turn these broken pieces into new ones and exhibit them. So far, they have traveled to San Francisco, Pennsylvania, and Australia too.

Jewelry makeover

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