Green Karat

Some of Green Karat’s designs

We know diamonds are not a girl’s best friend and we’ve seen environmentally friendly jewelry, like Kiersten Muenster’s , and Gwen Davis’ gorgeous creations. But what if you’re looking for something with more traditional style? Green Karat’s recycled gold jewelry looks the same as non-recycled rings and earrings, but bypasses the need for poisonous mines and toxic refining practices typical of traditional gold extraction.

Gold mining not only involves ripping into the Earth and displacing millions of pounds of earth (see image below) but multinational mining corporations have polluted local environments both in the United States and internationally with cyanide, mercury and other toxic chemicals (called mine ‘tailings’). I’ve seen some of this destruction first hand when I was a geology student in Montana, and I wish I still had my photos of yellow rivers running from mines into clear mountain streams. Yes, this kind of pollution still goes on, and what’s more, it’s allowed.

This is what a gold mine looks like. Image by Ashley Gilbertson for the New York Times.

Gold is both versatile and malleable, so Green Karat is able to form entirely unique pieces of jewelry from gold that has been melted down from older pieces. They estimate that “there is enough gold above ground (already mined) to satisfy all demands of the jewelry industry for the next 50 years. Much of it sits in bank vaults and in the form of old and unused jewelry”. Green Karat not only provides standards for each piece of jewelry available, but they operate under a philosophy that supports fair trade and ecological (artisanal) mining practices. Most importantly, they have awesome rings, bracelets and necklaces, and they can custom make just about any design you want. They specialize in creating commitment and wedding bands and will work with customers to design unique pieces.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.