19th January 2011… a day to experiment…

It’s been a busy day in my little studio overlooking the forest.  I started with one of those mega, rabbit-warren-esque google searches into all thing ethical jewellery.   I ended up in some strange places but I also found a lot of interesting stuff.  The Alliance for Responsible Mining (http://communitymining.org)  has a lot of inspiring stories and information about their current projects in South America.  Got me dreaming about taking the kids and the boyfriend on an adventure to the gold markets in Bolivia. (!)

One of their links took me to the Fairtrade site in the UK (www.fairtrade.org.uk/gold)  and bought me back to reality when I realised that with a little digging I may be able to find a supplier of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold in the UK (maybe even in Australia).

Currently the ethical gold I use comes from Oroverde (www.greengold-oroverde.org) which supplies ethical 24ct gold – pure gold too soft for jewellery production.  So it needs to be alloyed to 22, 18 or 9ct to make it usable.  Which brings me to the next part of my day….

Alloying.  It makes me feel a bit like a mad scientist, especially when I wear my grandfather’s dentistry glasses for mega-magnification.   I currently have a client who wants her wedding ring made from ethical gold (wise choice!) but also wants it matched in colour to her partner’s vintage wedding ring (his grandfather’s).  Old gold can sometimes be of a different alloy to modern metals and this particular ring has a lovely warm (but not too brassy) yellow gold colour.

So… I got a little bit of Oroverde 24ct gold, added a little recycled silver (refined from photographic processes!) and a touch of recycled copper.  Then I just kept tweaking the levels until I got the right colour.  My very own ethical alloy!  (Almost burned the studio down in the process but that is a story for another day..)