Ethics and Sourcing

Clementine & Co. Jewelry is committed to making ethical and sustainable choices in every aspect of our business


There are so many aspects to consider when making and designing jewelry, from materials sourcing to chemicals used in the studio, and a million little steps in between and all around. To make a truly exhaustive account of all the aspects taken into consideration as an artist and business owner trying to have a minimal (or hopefully net positive) impact on the world would take more time than you're willing to give in reading this. So I will try to be succinct and thorough enough to give an understanding without losing you.


METALS Tracing and Sourcing

  • Mining

    • Large Scale Corporate

        • Environmental

          The biggest issue with large scale mining is mountiantop-removal and the enormous ecological impact that has on an area. From species and habitat loss, deforestation, erosion, to contamination of waterways and water tables- the devastation of this type of mining is extreme and irreversible. It is done because it's an efficient way to move and remove large amounts of material for processing with explosives and heavy machinery doing the work of hundreds of people.

        • Labor & Safety

          Because capitalism will always put profits over people, these operations still often lack proper safety equipment for their workers. Child labor is less common in these operations, but not unheard of.


      The Mercury Problem in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Part 1 -  Stabroek News
    • Small Scale (Artisanal)

      Artisanal mining operations are small-scale, often remote and independently operated. They are not owned by or under the supervision of a larger company. They are sometimes worker-owned, and often will employ people of all ages and genders for various parts of the process. Digging, sifting and cleaning are done by hand- it is back breaking work.

      • Environmental

        There are many environmental factors at play in artisanal mining operations. Mercury is commonly used to separate the gold from other metals in the host rock. The mercury is not always contained properly and can find its way into waterways and poison plant and animal life, as well as the drinking water of the workers.

      • Labor

        Because so many of these mining operations are very remote, there is rarely oversight to make sure that the people working there are of a proper age to be working- child labor is very common. Injuries from cave-ins and collapsing dig-sites can happen when the structural safety is not ensured. Accidents of various sorts, as well as abuses of power and control are real concerns.

      • Safety

        Common safety equipment such as hard-hats, respirators, gloves and safety glasses are expensive and sometimes impossible to find, so a majority of workers at mine sites go without. The amount they are paid for their labor comes from a percentage of the gold they are able to help dig and refine all together, and the going rate for these small operations is often low because they must sell to middlemen, and there is often not enough to sell at a competitive price.

      • Human-rights issues

        Many times these remote villages that grow up around dig sites are at the mercy of local militias and gangs who harass the village for a cut of the profit. There are are few formal forces of protection available to the workers, such as police or national military forces, and where they do exist they may also be corrupt and coercive. Many of the women who work and live in these villages report domestic abuse and rape, but they income is needed desperately and they have no other options in the area. Children often work from a very young age, especially because of the remote locations, very few schooling opportunities exist for them.

    • Fairmined

      Fairmined gold is a product label designation for artisanal and small-scale miners who work with Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) to ensure safety and equity standards for their operation and the community it exists in. ARM and it's partner organizations work extensively with mining operations to bring them into compliance and provide education, support, and investment to help them reach the Fairmined goal. The standard that is set is exceedingly high, and lets goldsmiths and their customers know that they gold they are buying was produced under fair, safe and equitable conditions. It has a higher price point because, similar to Fair Trade certifications, Fairmined gold operations get a higher price for their product in order to reach higher standards and to continue to invest in their communities. My customers can request that I use Fairmined gold for certain types of custom projects.

  • Refining

    • Mercury and other heavy metals

    • Environmental Issues

    • Humanitarian Issues

  • Recycling

    • Reusing or Recycling Customers Old Jewelry

      I particularly love to repurpose jewelry and stones into new designs more fit for the wearer. If you have a precious heirloom that is sentimentally meaningful, but not right for you, let's work together to make it new! I can remove and reuse stones, melt down the metal and make something new from it, or use the value of the metal to purchase new materials.

    • Refiners

      I send my scraps and sweeps to a refiner who has been certified by SCS Global Services as a “Responsible Refiner”- meaning that they go above and beyond state and federal guidelines for safety and environmental responsibility. This Refiner also uses their refined metals to produce a line of certified recycled findings and casting services which I purchase from. This way I know my metal is circulating within a continuous, responsible stream of resource use.


GEMSTONES and DIAMONDS Tracing and Sourcing

Fairtrade Gems

Fair Trade businesses make a commitment to providing fair wages and safe workplaces. Many aspects of the gem industry are unsafe and oppressive, and fair trade initiatives aim to change that. Consequently, fair trade products ensure your purchases make life better for the people whose labor brings you those products. Demand safe cutting factories, safe and environmentally responsible mines, and fair wages for the people and communities who mine and cut these natural treasures.

Fair Labor & Fair Wages

  • Gem Mining

    Most gemstone and diamond mining is small-scale and done with hand tools, which allows for a situationally-tailored approach to each site, taking into account environmental factors to limit ecosystem harm and disruption to local communities. This is the case in fair trade and more conscientious operations, but there are many areas where the environment and the people are not considered. That is why Fair Trade gem sourcing is so important.

        • Environmental

          It is vitally important to protect streams, watersheds, and groundwater from natural sediment and pollutants. Although mining operations move a lot of earth and rock, environmental impact can be reduced with planning. Careful planning ensures that sediment does not block or divert streams and runoff channels which could harm fish and other marine life.

        • Labor

          Unfair labor practices and child labor are issues in so many industries, but even more so when there is a lack of other opportunities in the the area. Fair trade ensures not only higher wages but a commitment to increasing opportunities for the entire community, such as schooling and childcare.

      gem cutting without silicosis
    • Cutting

      • Cutting Houses

        Silicosis is a common and yet avoidable concern in gem cutting facilities when safety measures are not in place for workers. With proper safety equipment for both the person and the machines, it is, however, avoidable. Silicosis is a terrible and devastating lung disease that is horribly common in environments where lots of stone dust are in the air, unfiltered and able to be breathed in. It leads to a slow, debilitating death for those affected. Respirators and keeping cutting equipment wet so that the dust doesn't get into the air are the best ways to avoid it.

      • Independent Lapidarists

        I often purchase stones from people who both mine and cut themselves, which allows me to have true transparency and knowledge of the process involved. For example, in New Mexico I purchase turquoise and a few other stones that are found in the vicinity of turquoise from someone who has a local holding in Cerrillos, NM and he cuts every stone himself. I also know a couple of lapidary artists who collect Montana sapphires to cut themselves, and this is a very environmentally gentle process of alluvial mining. Alluvial mining is when loose gravel is gathered, and then sifted and sorted to find the gemstones in it. This type of gem mining is extremely non-invasive or destructive to the environment and other than some sore backs from digging, it is not particularly dangerous or harmful work to do. Some garnets and peridot can also be mined in this fashion.



    • Metals Reclaiming

      • Reclaiming Metals for Re-use in Studio

        When cutting metal there are often little scraps and offcuts that can be gathered and sorted, to be melted down in the studio and turned into new material for jewelry making.

      • Dust/Sweeps/Filings

        Many of the processes in jewelry making involve making metal dust- sawing, filing, sanding, grinding- and this dust has value! It's important to make sure that all that dust is caught and gathered to be recycled.

      • Sending Reclaimed Materials Out for Refining

        That dust, plus any other scraps not fit to be reused are gathered up and sent off to a refining facility to be cleaned, melted down, and separated into the various precious metal constituents, to be consolidated and sold again.

    • Chemicals and fumes

      • Flux

        The purpose of flux in a jewelry studio is to keep metal clean while is being heated with a torch to prevent oxides from forming. There are many many types of flux on the market, from extremely old-school, such as a borax cone that is ground into paste with water, to many different types of liquid and paste fluxes with varying compositions and safety ratings. I have tried many things over the years and I've come down to using two products: For a general barrier flux to prevent firescale I use a slurry of boric acid and denatured alcohol. Boric acid is a powder commonly used around houses to prevent and control cockroaches and is considered very safe- at most a “mild irritant”. The denatured alcohol is burned off. The flux I use for soldering is a liquid that is made by several brands under different names such as “Batterns” or “My-T-Flux” and is a combination of sodium borate and ammonium chloride. It works well on all metals and at high heats, is water soluble, non-corrosive and is only a mild irritant and does not produce fluorides when heated as many fluxes do. It's still a good idea to use ventilation though, which I do!

      • Solder

        The main issues around solder used to be the addition of the heavy metal cadmium, which is extremely toxic, and has been banned in most countries for decades now. I source all my solder directly from the manufacturers, so I never deal with the potential of old stock or solder sourced from unregulated sources.

      • Pickle

        Pickle is an acidic solution used in a metals studio, usually warm, which dissolves flux and soot and oxides from metal pieces that have been heated. As with flux there are myriad types to choose from, with widely ranging safety levels. Some acids are extremely corrosive and unhealthy to breathe in or get on skin. There are a few options that are as safe as cooking in your kitchen though and those are what I use: Distilled White Vinegar and Citric Acid. Distilled white vinegar is used for making pickles, cleaning everything from clothes to counters. Citric acid comes in powder form and is mixed with water- it is the acid that comes from citrus fruits, and is often used in canning and in many prepared foods you buy at a grocery store. Both work very well in the jewelry studio and are safe to use. The main issue with any pickle is that of disposal. The acid itself, once neutralized with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is safe to just pour down the drain, however, once it's been doing it's job for many weeks or months, the accumulated dissolved flux and copper compounds make it unsafe for release into municipal or natural water systems. The best course is to pour spent pickle into a container to evaporate the water off, and then dispose of the solids at a hazardous waste center.

      • Patinas

        There is only one patina that I use regularly in my studio, which is Liver of Sulfur- it smells terrible (like rotten eggs), but works wonderfully to create a lovely dark oxidation on metals (an “antique” look). It is safe to dispose of normally and though it's best to use ventilation for the smell, it's not harmful to work with.

      • Ventilation

        Many of the issues addressed with safety in a jewelry studio have to do with breathing in toxic or irritating fumes, because of this, a proper ventilation system is absolutely necessary for maintaining a healthy work environment. There are several ways to do this, ranging from very simple and inexpensive, to industrial strength extraction systems that run into the thousands of dollars. Obviously stronger is better, but when money is a barrier, simple can do the trick just fine. An extracting fan and some ducting can be directed from the soldering station to an outside wall quite easily and is an effective and relatively inexpensive solution. This is what I use in my studio. I have also a tabletop filtering fan that work well to capture vapors in the air and trap particulates in the filter. In the past I have also set up my soldering station next to a window with a box fan pulling the air outside and away from me. While this isn't an ideal solution, it's better than nothing!

      • Safety

        In addition to chemicals and air quality, a jeweler also needs to take care of their eyes, ears, hands and clothes! We use shatter-proof safety glasses when doing tasks that could send objects flying fast, and ear protection for the hours and hours of hammering metal so we don't cause hearing damage. While it might seem smart to use gloves in a metal studio, they can often be a hazard because a glove could easily get caught in a rotating polishing wheel and whip it (and the hand attached) around very quickly! Same goes for long hair and any flapping or dangling clothing. We generally wear an apron though, to keep our clothes clean because metalwork is messy and fine metal dust will wear down cloth fibers quickly.





    • Recycled Paper

      All the boxes we use to package our jewelry are made from recycled paper, which are thankfully available in a variety of fun and vivid colors! The care cards and other printed paper materials as well as tissue paper are all recycled as well. It's important to buy recycled products if we want to have a circular recycling economy.

    • Biodegradable Inks

      Many common inks contain carbon black, which is a pigment used within the ink, textiles, plastics and rubber industries. It is derived from heavy petroleum such as FCC tar, coal tar or ethylene cracking tar. It is listed as a class 2b carcinogen according the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Thus, carbon black is hazardous to human health, causes environmental degradation, and is produced using finite


      Algae Ink is a safe, nontoxic, plant-derived alternative to petroleum products. It can easily be removed from printed products for recycling as well, meaning it continues to perpetuate in the recycling stream (hopefully, if we all do our part). Algea Ink is made from algae biomass, which is grown in large tanks, requiring very little input besides sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to grow huge amounts. Algae is fast becoming a popular sustainable alternative to many products normally made from petroleum.

    • Minimalism

      Above all the most important part of having sustainable practices is the “Reduce” part of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. By finding ways to be minimal, yet effective at protecting the jewelry with our packaging, we limit the amount of resources used, as well as adding more trash (or hopefully recycling) to the landfill. It is the responsibility of those who chose and use the packaging to do it in a way that doesn't add to the buyers' environmental waste load.


    Resources and Bibliography:

    Abram, Kyle. “Are     Fairmined and Fair Trade Gold Elitist?”. Ethical Metalsmiths     Blog, Excavations:         Unearthing “Ethical     Jewelry.     February 23, 2022.    fairmined-and-fairtrade-gold-elitist 


    Alfonsus H. Harianja, et al. “Mercury Exposure in Artisanal and     Small-Scale Gold Mining     Communities in Sukabumi, Indonesia.”     Journal of Health and Pollution, vol. 10, no. 28, Dec.     2020,     pp. 1–11.

    Eweje, Gabriel. “Hazardous Employment and Regulatory Regimes in the South African Mining     Industry: Arguments for Corporate Ethics at Workplace.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 56,     no. 2, pp. 163–83. Jan 2005


    Gem Legacy Website

    Giangrande, Julia. “What’s the Dill with Jewelry Pickle?”, CRITICALSMITHS Research Series,     Ethical Metalsmith, May 4, 2021,    research-series-pickle

    Griffith University in Brisbane Australia, EM Students chapter at Queensland College of Art.“What the     Actual Flux?”, CRITICALSMITHS Research Series; Ethical Metalsmith, Oct 14, 2018.

    Hilson, Gavin. “The Environmental Impact of Small‐scale Gold Mining in Ghana: Identifying     Problems and     Possible Solutions”. Geographical Journal, The, Volume:168, Issue:1,     Page(s):57-72


    Lewis, Sam. “Country with ‘widespread human rights abuses’ to become vice-chair of Kimberley     Process”, Professional Jeweller, 23rd November 2021    abuses-to-become-vice-chair-of-kimberley-process/.

    Living Ink, website for product.


    Columbia Gemhouse,


    Dhen, Christine. “Eco     Jewelry Handbook- A Practical Guide for a Healthy, Safe and     Sustainable     Studio”, 2018 Brynmorgen Press.

    “What is the Most Sustainable Ink?” Eco Enclose blog, Feb 7, 2022