Innovation That Matters

From Wal-Mart, jewelry with a traceable story


Eco-conscious consumers may be acutely aware of the environmental impacts of many of the products they use, but jewelry is not often among them. A new line of gold and silver jewelry offered by none other than Wal-Mart, however, is designed to deliver affordable, quality jewelry that can be traced back to the sustainable mine it came from. Between the clearing of vegetation, blasting of rocks and processing of ore, the mining of metals and gemstones can have very negative effects on the environment. Every single gold ring that’s made, for example, generates approximately 20 tons of mining waste, Wal-Mart says, while processing gold ore uses “thousands of gallons of cyanide.” With such facts in mind, Wal-Mart–the largest retailer of jewelry in the world, it claims–has established a jewelry sustainability group that aims to provide jewelry with less of an impact on communities and the environment. With almost 30 products including necklaces, bracelets and earrings, the company’s new Love, Earth jewelry brand is the result of a pilot project using a transparent supply chain to ensure that the 10-karat gold and silver it uses is from mines that meet Wal-Mart’s environmental and social standards. (Wal-Mart’s partners in the effort include Aurafin, Rio Tinto, Newmont Mining, Conservation International and Historic Futures Limited.) Each piece in the Love, Earth collection comes with a tracking number on an attached tag; consumers need only visit the collection’s website and follow a series of instructions to learn about the exact mine their jewelry came from. In the future, Wal-Mart will also add diamond jewelry to the collection, it says. “The Love, Earth pilot project is important because it shows for the first time that materials found in a piece of jewelry purchased from a retailer of Wal-Mart’s size can be made traceable all the way from the mine to the store,” explains the company’s site. “Secondly, it is important because it ensures that at each step of the supply chain, from the mine to the manufacturer, companies are working toward leading industry standards for environmental and social performance.” We’ve already written about several examples of product story labels–most notably, on bananas, coffee, spinach and T-shirts–and this brings that trend into the world of jewelry. Nothing like transparency, sustainability and a status story to give a necklace a little extra shine! 😉 Spotted by: Maria Dahl Jørgensen



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