Hands and Promises

Hands and Promises: Wedding Bands and Other Jewelry

Choosing engagement jewelry

For some information on picking out engagement jewelry in a just and green way, and about the social and environmental impact of diamonds, in particular, visit. Green & Just Celebrations. The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony involves the giving, or exchange, or mutual acquisition of an object of value—usually this item is the wedding band or bands which the couple will wear after marriage. These items will be a permanent symbol of joy and connection for you and your partner—so consider purchasing a ring with people and the planet in mind.

Consider the social and environmental impact of gold

The mining of gold moves huge quantities of rock, and separates tiny amounts of gold using dangerous chemicals, often in some of the poorest regions of the world. Mining the gold for a single ring can generate more than twenty tons of mine waste, according to the No Dirty Gold Campaign. Gold mining leaves behind toxins such as cyanide and sulfuric acid, which pollute air, soil, and water. And when mines exhaust the gold in a particular region, they frequently close up shop without repairing the ecological damage and economic dependence left behind. In addition, gold mining has been implicated in human rights abuses in Ghana and the Congo. To learn more about the impact of gold mining on communities around the world, see www.nodirtygold.org.

Consider recycled gold

One way to find gold wedding bands without contributing to the destructive mining of virgin gold is to purchase wedding rings made from recycled gold.

Reconsider gold wedding bands

One way to avoid participating in the “dirty” mining of gold is to look for wedding bands made of another less scarce material, such as the meticulously handcrafted wooden wedding bands from Touch Wood Rings: www.touchwoodrings.com.

Consider heirloom or vintage wedding bands

There may already be pieces of beautiful jewelry in your family that you can use as meaningful wedding bands, or a gemstone that can be re-set for a new ring. Or shop in vintage boutiques for second-hand pieces of jewelry. Finding previously loved jewelry can conserve both money and resources.

Look for gold jewelry from “Golden Rules” retailers

The No Dirty Gold Campaign has drawn up a list of “Golden Rules” for the socially and environmentally responsible sourcing of mined gold. If you do decide to purchase gold rings for your celebration, try to patronize one of the more than three dozen major jewelry retailers that have pledged to adhere to these guidelines: www.nodirtygold.org/supporting_retailers.cfm, and to avoid the campaign’s list of industry “laggards.”

Regardless of whether or where you end up purchasing gold jewelry, you can ask jewelers to ensure that the gold in their products was not produced at the expense of local communities, workers, and the environment by signing the No Dirty Gold pledge: www.nodirtygold.org/take_action.cfm.