Ringing in a new era of ethically and ecologically responsible jewelry

Did you know 30 tons of waste rock can be generated in producing one gold ring? Us neither, but now we’re never getting married. Trying to keep a step ahead of consumers’ growing social and environmental consciousness, the jewelry industry is making some changes. Some specialty outfits are marketing so-called ethical jewelry, or creating baubles out of recycled gold. Eight mainstream jewelry companies, representing 14 percent of U.S. retail jewelry sales, have signed on to an enviro-sponsored “No Dirty Gold” campaign, which has minimal requirements but aims to eventually clean up the environmentally damaging and sometimes ethically dodgy gold-mining industry. Tiffany & Co. buys much of its gold from a cyanide-free mine; other companies are buying direct from suppliers, allowing them to keep a closer eye on the supply chain. This practice was pioneered by the nation’s biggest gold retailer: Wal-Mart, which, when you think about it, is pretty much synonymous with romance.