Earth Day at EBJ
This Earth Day, ethical manufacturing, globalism, and the effects of climate change have never been more important to us. Both as individuals and as a business, we’re taking time to do some spring cleaning! We strive for a small footprint while creating quality jewelry that can be worn for generations and recycled when needed. This spring, as the flowers are blooming and we are opening the window to enjoy the sunshine (under our SPF, of course!), we are reminded to take a pause to plan for the future. At Elaine B, we’re cleaning out the studio, getting ready for a sale, refining scrap metal, selling unused stones, revisiting our trusted partners and their mission, but most importantly reexamining our core values. In celebration of Earth Day, we’re sharing some of our sustainable practices with you!
Let's start with the base of all our jewelry - Metal!
The great thing about using solid, high quality metal is that it is easily recycled, melted down and made into jewelry over and over again. Did you know that silver and gold are both recyclable? Buying high quality metals is a great way to go “green” - especially when you realize the metal can be recycled over and over into new pieces of jewelry. These metals never lose their qualities either, meaning your gold necklace or silver ring could be remade and reused forever. Even more special is that this metal holds a history and a story as it is formed into its next….
We recycle, or “refine” all of our silver, goldfill, and 14k gold metals at Elaine B Jewelry. Our bench jeweler, Natasha, documented the process to give you an inside look for Earth Day!
The Process of Refining Gold
First, our jewelers collect 14k scraps and sweeps from their bench. Sweeps are all of the particles left over (gold dust, filings, and all the scrap you can’t pick up with your fingers). From there all the scrap is weighed. Next, it is put into an electric heated crucible. Coils heat the crucible up which turns the gold scrap into a liquid, pourable form. During this process, all impurities are burned away (sandpaper bits, buffing compound, etc). The hot air from heating the gold in the crucible goes into an exhaust ventilation system, which is triple filtered (like a furnace filter but 3 of them). It is released back out as 99.5% clean air!!
Left Image: 14k gold scraps and sweeps from Elaine B Jewelry, Right Image: Gold refining process.
Once the gold is liquid and to temperature, it is then poured into a mold to form an ingot (gold bar). It is then cleaned, reweighed and ready for purity testing. In order to test this, a small circle must be drilled into the ingot, exposing fresh gold free of any leftover debris during the heating process. From there an X Ray fluorescent gold tester is used. A light shines on that exposed circle, bouncing off at different speeds which determines the purity. Pretty cool, right?
Natasha reported, “We had 243.4 grams of 14k scrap gold before it was refined. Our ingot came to a weight of 240.4 grams, which was only a 3 gram loss during the process. Our ingot purity came back as 13.7k. That's pretty great!”
The refiner then takes this ingot and sends it out to be transformed into 24k casting grain. This grain can then be used in new ring castings or any form of metal to work with. This process refines the metal further and makes it usable and 100% pure once again.
If you’ve gotten Forever Linked with us, some of the scrap from your 14k chain just might have been in that ingot! Or, if you’ve bought custom jewelry or even a 14k piece off the floor, all the scraps and sweeps from the process get refined! We are so proud of our jewelers for making sure that no metal gets left behind.
Silver and Goldfill Refining Process
For our silver and gold fill metals, Elaine B works with Hoover and Strong. We are proud to work with a Green Refinery. We separate our silver, goldfill, sandpaper and sweeps. Then we send them off to be refined. Some highlights on their practices include:
“• Gold refining process reduces the quantity of waste products generated per ounce recovered by 75%.
• A newly developed platinum and palladium refining process reduces the quantity of waste products generated per ounce recovered by 60%.
• All furnace and chemical exhaust fumes are processed through a scrubber system that removes all harmful particulates, cleaning the air before it is released into the environment.
• The water treatment facility removes all harmful materials from our waste water before it is evaporated. Absolutely no waste water is discharged into the environment.
• All cooling water for our refining smelting furnaces is provided by a fully recycled, no-loss water cooling system.”
Interested in learning more? You can find info about their process as well as how they operate here.
Above: Natasha holding bags of sterling silver and gold fill scraps.
Making Jewelry with Recycled Metals
Many of the pieces we sell are actually made from recycled metals. Refining is truly an amazing process and we are so thankful we can offer recycled metal to our customers as a high quality, and sustainable, jewelry option!
Here’s some of our favorite pieces you can shop now in celebration of Earth Day!
Left Image: The Journey Collection by Elaine B Jewelry, Right Image: Minimalist Mini Hoops from Elaine B Jewelry
Earth's precious gems from humans' precious hands.
At Elaine B Jewelry, we know exactly where our metal and stones come from- maintaining relationships with miners, stone cutters, and companies that run transparent supply chains. We source first from local and then from American companies. Here’s some companies we are proud to work with and encourage you to check out for yourself!
Founded by Justin Opert in 2012, Sorbet Sapphire works with a handful of companies located in Australia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the US. Each company is able to guarantee ethically-sourced sapphires. Sorbet Sapphire offers both untreated and heated sapphires.
Offering a wide range of colors from around the world and right here in the United States, Sorbet Sapphire has a large offering of mesmerizing stones. All overseas suppliers to Sorbet Sapphire are members of the RJC (Responsible Jewelry Council). When you wear a sapphire from Elaine B, you can trust it came from caring hands. You can read more about their story here.
Images: Sapphire Alternative Engagement Rings by Elaine B Jewelry
Lewis & Clark Sapphires
Recently featured in the New York Times, Lewis & Clark is an incredible resource for ethical sapphires. Neal and Debbie, a husband and wife team, founded their sapphire mine in 2003. Their mine is located on the Eldorado Bar on the Missouri River, a very rich sapphire deposit.
Not only do Neal and Debbie offer mine to market stones, they reuse their mining water. We love this quote from Debbie, "We feel the people that are connected in the process from the jewelry store to the artisan cutters are a part of our family. During our process, we do everything in our power to be good stewards of the earth.”
As you can imagine, we can’t help but smile when receiving new sapphires from Lewis & Clark!
Hoover & Strong
Not only does Hoover & Strong refine some of our metals, they also supply us with really beautiful white diamonds. They are conflict-free mined, harmony recycled, harmony Canadian mined and lab grown. You can read more here.
A newer supplier to the jewelry scene, Misfit Diamonds was founded in 2021 on really great values that we can’t help but support!
“At Misfit we believe establishing documented origin is one of the first steps to creating transparency in the diamond industry. From there we can begin to explore the working conditions, labor practices, and environmental factors involved in the extraction of these precious stones from the earth.”
Elaine B Jewelry now sources white diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds, and sapphires from Misfit. Offered in both traditional and alternative, gem cuts, they really speak our language!
You can visit them here.
Above: Alternative Engagement Rings by Elaine B Jewelry
Interested in learning more about diamonds? Read "The What's What of Diamonds" here.
Small Actions, Big Impacts
Although we have a pretty good handle on the jewelry portion, we know we can always use some help in our everyday practices outside of the studio. A great resource in our sustainability journey is actually one of our Metro Detroit neighbors - Walking Lightly. They offer easy options to help community members live more sustainably with their zero waste store and “refillery” in Ferndale. MI. With their “Business to Business Refilling Program,” they work with local businesses to make more sustainable choices. We are so thankful to be working with them in this way! Check out their blog here to read all about it. You can also check out our blog highlighting Walking Lightly here.
Through our partnership with Walking Lightly, we learned that small changes around the shop can lead to big impacts over time. Another way we support sustainable living is by supporting our community. Shopping other small local businesses and being a part of walkable communities is a big part of our mission. Save on those carbon emissions when you buy jewelry at Elaine B! Once you park your car, you can have a full day of shopping completely on foot thanks to a little help from our small business neighbors.
Happy Earth Day!
With so many companies guilty of “green-washing,” it’s hard to know who’s actually taking steps to minimize their impact on the planet, and what’s a money-making scheme. We can assure you - there’s no green-washing at EBJ! We take pride in our sustainable practices and are so happy to share them here with you! We hope that this blog inspires you to incorporate some practices in your home that help us move toward a brighter future together!! Remember that every effort counts, no matter how big or small. Happy Earth Day!!