Again, gold and silver remain the most common materials used in jewelry making – this is mostly just because people are creatures of habit.
Gold comes from large mines in which rock is churned up continuously in an attempt to extract gold from it. A gold-rich mine likely contains less than an ounce of gold per ton of rock. Consider how much ore is churned up to create one gold wedding band or necklace chain. This requires a great deal of energy, can lead to mine drainage in which the chemicals contained in the ore runs off into rivers and lakes. This is obviously not great for entities living in rivers and lakes. My advice for people committed to gold, is to find gold that is already in existence and have it remade into your desired piece of jewelry. My other advice is to open your mine to other metals requiring less damage to the environment.
Now silver is a much more sustainable metal requiring less damage to the environment, less human energy to cultivate and less negative impacts on the societies hosting the gold mines as described above. Silver however is a very soft metal making it less valuable for every-day jewelry. Most silver is produced as a by-product when making copper, gold, and zinc. So if you insist upon using gold or silver for your jewelry, I advise silver. But not more than steel!
Steel is made up primarily of iron and carbon and is incredibly strong – so strong in fact that its primary use is buildings and infrastructure – like tools, ships, weapons, railroad tracks, etc. So if you’re looking for strength, jewelry that will last you, that you can wear through your life without worrying about it scuffing or bending – steel is for you. Steel is also the worlds most recycled metal with a recycling rate of over 60% across the world making it an incredibly sustainable metal that contributes far less than gold to the destruction of our earth.
Besides convincing you to use steel as your primary jewelry-metal, I think it’s important for people to have more awareness of the metals surrounding their every day lives. The goal here is to create a mobile app that allows users to utilize their phone camera to snap a picture of the metal in question and receive in response a breakdown of the metals (if any) present in the item. This could be used for jewelry, automobile parts, skyscrapers, train cars, etc.
Next time let’s get into the specificities of jewelry made of steel, how these may benefit users and how to tell the difference in the absence of this mobile app. Unless I’ve miraculously developed it by then!