Making jewelry is a dirty business. Chemicals, dust, waste & fumes have always been the hidden by-products of glamour. Most people are blissfully unaware of the environmental, social, and sheer human toll that fine jewelry manufacturing takes. Especially jewelry created in mass quantities such as in China today. But there is a move a-foot to change all this- especially with small, independent jewelers, where they can create on a micro-basis, create American jobs, use the highest technology, deliver one of a kind results, and go extremely green in the process. And for around the same cost of similar products (well, let's face it, there are no similar products. Perhaps we should say, "for the same weight of gold and quality of gemstones,") from China.
Computer Technology for Green Jewelry
These pioneering jewelers are turning to the use of CAD (computer aided design) software to produce their one of a kind custom jewelry. They work with clients to design, in actual 3-D space, jewelry that exactly suits the clients' needs, tastes, and passions. This new technology virtually eliminates the use of chemicals and fumes from the jewelry making process and revolutionizes the jewelry industry into a green one. Data files are sent directly to a wax cutting machine that quickly re-creates the piece in the most natural of products: wax. Only when the customer is completely satisfied with the wax model is the final piece created. A clay or ceramic mold is made from the reusable wax. Soldering (a major fume producer) is eliminated or greatly reduced as most of these pieces are cast as a single unit. The piece is then tumbled organically in a barrel full of reusable (for 20 years, at least!) steel shot & water and finally, a jeweler sets gemstones in the oldest way possible: by hand! This is a virtually pollution free process.
In addition, small jewelers contribute to American jobs. They stay local as they do not produce in the mass quantities required for exporting the labor to make financial sense. By using better technology, eliminating import/export costs, keeping overhead extremely low (many independent jewelers actually work from their own home studios) and bypassing dealer cost of gold and diamonds directly to the customer, they can actually provide a better product for either less or equal price than Chinese produced jewelry.
Working with reputable, local designers also ensures that less human suffering has been involved in the production of the jewelry. Members of the American Gem Trade Association are committed to using only naturally mined, unaltered gemstones decreasing the exposure of workers to harmful chemicals and radiation. Further, reputable dealers will only buy diamonds certified by the Kimberly process- an international consortium of buyers & dealers who will not certify diamonds known to fuel war atrocities in Africa.
The bottom line in all of this is that when you work with a small/micro jeweler, you are working with a human with a heart, soul and convictions which can easily be measured by talking to them. When you deal with billion dollar companies that steal American designs, abuse their working population and pump out inferior products by the thousands, you can be sure that there is no human moment of pause before they buy a blood diamond, irradiate a stone or pollute their rivers in the pursuit of profit.
Lim Studio is a small, independent jeweler that utilizes eco-friendly jewelry production process. It is also a member of the American Gem Trade Association.