Thursday, January 31, 2019

Semi-Precious: Where Do Your Accessories Come From?

mining tunnel

Very few people spend their time thinking about where items have come from when they are buying them. With things like food, technology, and clothing all being a normal part of life, it makes sense that knowing their origins may not be that important to you. When it comes to the accessories you wear, though, there is a reason the price can often be so high. To give you an idea of where the materials for these sorts of products come from, this post will be exploring this industry, shedding light on this little-known subject.


Metals are essential to a lot of the accessories people wear and have been the main material used in jewelry for thousands of years. While this sort of resource might be abundant in some cases, in others it won’t be, and this means that it’s worth being careful with the options you buy. Below, you can find some of the most common metals found in the accessories you wear, showing you exactly where they come from.

Gold: South Africa is home to the world’s largest gold mine, with over 40% of the stuff coming from Witwatersrand Basin. The process involved with extracting gold is a very dangerous one, often involving high quantities of the toxic metal mercury, and the people doing it will rarely have the right protection. This is particularly unfortunate when you consider that gold is only valuable because it looks nice and isn’t very reactive; there isn’t a shortage of it.

Steel: Steel is found in all sorts of different accessories, and originally comes from iron. The largest mines for these resources are found in Canada, Sweden, and the US, with ore being pulled from the ground and melted into the raw metal. While this process isn’t dangerous, it has a huge impact on the surrounding landscape, destroying habitats and making it impossible for people to live there in the future.

Titanium: Not a lot of people realize, but titanium is one of the world’s most abundant elements. It is most commonly mined in Australia and Russia, using a very similar process to that of iron to get it out of the ground. Of course, while there is a lot of this stuff around, it is usually deep inside the Earth’s crust, forcing those who want it to cause loads of damage in the process. This material is becoming more and more popular as time goes on.


Along with metals, you will also find that a lot of the accessories people wear will have some sort of stone attached to them. This will usually be a semi-precious gem, but there are examples of options which are far more striking, and they may not come from where you expect. The level of effort which goes into getting these materials is often what makes them demand such a high price, with some being harder to get than others.

Pearls: When most people see a pearl necklace, they won’t be thinking about a sea creature. These small round balls come are formed inside oysters as part of a natural defensive mechanism which is built into their bodies. Extracting the pearl will kill the oyster, and they will only ever have one, making this a very low-value endeavor. Thankfully, synthetic pearls can be made from glass or plastic.

Diamonds: People have always been drawn in by diamonds, with these stones being some of the rarest on Earth. There isn’t much special about carbon which makes these stones, though, making it possible for businesses to replicate the process, producing their own colored diamonds at a far lower price than natural examples. In a lot of cases, it will be impossible to tell the difference between them.
Check out Stefano Navi for more information about lab grown diamonds.

Emeralds: There are loads of different gemstones out there, and they are all mined in a similar way; people will sift through the top layers of rocks until they find them. While this doesn’t sound bad, this job will often fall to some of the poorest people in the world, and this means that the safety standards in place are almost always low. It’s never nice to think that people may have been hurt just so that you can look nice.

Making A Difference

When most people read things like this, the alarm bells will start to ring. A lot of the materials which people choose to use for their accessories leave a big impact on the world and the people in it, even if this isn’t felt at home. This makes it well worth looking for alternatives to the damaging options available on the market, choosing options like glass over gemstones, and wood or stone instead of metal. Of course, though, this isn’t always possible.

If you can’t live without the type of material you’re looking for, it will be a good idea to look for a better way to source it. For example, using recycled metals instead of freshly mined ones will be good for the planet, but won’t put anyone at risk. There are loads of ways to take this sort of approach available, and you need only do some research to start finding them. Of course, though, you will need to put a lot of effort to find replacements for all of your purchases.

Accessories are very important to the outfits you wear, finishing the complex work which has gone into making you look great. Of course, though, as time goes on, this sort of job is getting easier and easier. People are acting more responsible for the world they live in, and this means that more and more products are hitting the market which gives you the chance to do your part. If you need some help finding inspiration in this area, it will be worth using sites like Instagram to see what other people are doing. It’s important that people work together when they are solving these problems.

Thanks for reading!

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This post was written by a contributing author in collaboration with

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