This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece have been acquired from a previously mined reserve, sometimes over 30 years old! This could mean that the stones came from an abandoned mine, a retired gem cutting operation, or a particular high quality turquoise mine, which is often the case. Using stones from old reserves helps preserve the future of the environment in the sense that there is not further damage being done to the land to mine additional material.
This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece have been created in a laboratory. This method of creating gemstones and diamonds is far less environmentally destructive, far more ethically responsible, and very comparable in price to their naturally occurring counterparts. While this method of production solves a lot of issues that often come with gemstones, it does have one important caveat: it doesn’t help support the miners that rely on their gemstones as their sole source of income, which is commonplace in many countries around the world. However, insuring that gemstones have been acquired from miners that are fairly treated and compensated is a difficult process, which is exactly why we all need to push for a more transparent and responsible supply chain. With this complex issue, NKS errs on the side of caution. I am always working to connect with new suppliers, but until I can find a dependable environmentally and ethically responsible supplier, permanent NKS collection pieces will always contain lab-created gemstones and diamonds.
This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece have been acquired from an artisanal mining operation that insures the ethical treatment of its workers, environmental protection, and that the income generated from the production is used to promote community and local economic development. Efforts like the Kimberly Process for diamonds (which you can read about below) have made some strides forward in stopping the corrupt mining and trade for large established diamond mines, but this has its pitfalls and also leaves artisanal miners vulnerable. On the very bright side, effective efforts to change “business as usual” have surfaced in the form of grassroots organizations working one on one with these workers to protect them in ways that laws alone have not! This is another example as to why we all need to work together to demand change in a historically dangerous and destructive industry. Not only is our physical environment at risk, but the people involved as well.
This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece have been acquired through direct trade. That is, a supplier has traveled to work one on one with gem producing countries to ensure that they are helping fund a mining operation that is fairly treating their workers, and that the gemstone profits stay within the community.
The difference between Responsible Small Scale Mined Stones and Stones Acquired Through Direct Trade is the inability for me to assure the minimal environmental impact of the stone at the mine location. Artisanal mines are extremely common throughout the world and while in many places it is illegal to continue mining without repairing the damage done to the land elsewhere, this requires funding that is not feasible for the small scale miners that are not being fairly compensated. Additionally, political climate of a country plays a large role in this complex issue as well. If the price of a piece of jewelry with a naturally occurring precious gemstone seems too good to be true, it’s highly likely that somebody’s efforts were undercut during it’s creation. This affirms the importance of purchasing fairly priced gemstones, and of the organizations that are working to help these small scale mining operations ensure that the land that is their livelihood is being taken care of.
This icon signifies that the gemstone or diamonds used in the piece were previously set in another piece of jewelry, removed, and recycled to be used elsewhere. Similar to old stock stones, recycled stones help preserve the future of the environment in the sense that there is not further damage being done to the land to mine additional material. If a beautiful ruby or diamond is sitting in an unused piece of jewelry it only makes sense to remove it and give it new life!
This icon signifies that the metals used in the piece come from recycled sources, unless otherwise noted. While No Kitchen Sink believes it is important to utilize all previously mined metals, gold is known to have the most tumultuous and important history. Gold is still used as currency because of its rarity and guaranteed value, and is often collected in the form of coins and bars. It is also used in electronics, dentistry, and even has applications in aerospace! Despite its broad range of lesser known uses, an estimated 78% of gold in the world is used for jewelry. That’s quite a demand, and a lot of opportunity to bypass potential toxic substance release, unethical mining conditions, and further destruction of the land.
This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece have been mined, refined, or created in the US. This will most often apply to pieces that contain turquoise or Herkimer diamonds. “True” Herkimer diamonds are double terminated quartz from Herkimer County, NY. They can be found all over the world, but I make a conscious effort to support US economy.
This icon signifies that the stone or stones used in the piece come from an origin that has no known political and ethical issues tied to the type of stone it is. Political and ethical issues most often come into play when mining precious gemstones (emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds), so this icon will only be applied to pieces using semi-precious stones, as the risk of not knowing the history of a precious gemstone is too high. However, simply knowing the origin of the stone is, in my opinion, not enough due diligence and is therefore very seldom used. You will most often see this icon used in one-of-a-kind pieces.