pure new zealand beach gold
ethically sourced from the black sand beaches of the west coast
For a while I had a growing desire to find out where the metal I was using came from, but was afraid to start digging. I was aware of the movement against trade in conflict diamonds and suspected that the mining of precious metals could be just as bad.
What I found is that in a lot of places in the world it is. According to the No Dirty Gold Campaign sponsored by Oxfam, “Gold mining is one of the dirtiest industries in the world. The production of a single gold wedding ring generates 20 tonnes of mining waste. In places as diverse as Guatemala, Ghana, Peru and Indonesia, local communities and indigenous peoples have encountered intimidation, abuse and even violent suppression when voicing opposition to mining projects”.
I found that most of the gold from my suppliers in New Zealand is mined or recycled here and in Australia. Both these countries have a relatively good track record with regards to mining practices but the idea of using a local resource and shortening the path of the metal from the ground to the customer really appealed to me.
So, I learned how to melt down and fabricate metal myself and found a local source of new gold collected from West Coast beaches. This process means I can also take your old jewellery and recycle it into a new piece.
The process is pretty low tech and can sometimes leave small imperfections in the surface of the metal but nothing more than the usual bumps and scratchs that come with wearing jewellery. This doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the piece is all part of the look the jewellery develops over time.
Since I fabricate it myself, you know that the piece you buy from me hasn’t been mined or manufactured in a way that’s destructive and unsustainable.
small scale alluvial black sand gold mining
west coast of the south island, new zealand
A small pond is made with water from a nearby reservoir. The water is pumped in under pressure to create a slurry of black sand containing millions of tiny flecks of gold.
This slurry is then sucked up and pumped over mats where the heavier gold is trapped and most of the sand and water flows back onto the beach from where it came.
As the mats fill with the tiny gold flecks they are vacumed up along with some sand and water.
Later, the sand and gold are seperated leaving pure West Coast gold.
This area was mined in the late 1800′s and it is only the remnants of gold missed by the old timers that are found today. As a “bycatch” the operation also removes other metals from the areas mining past such as mercury.