Pure New Zealand Beach Gold
Ethically sourced from the black sand beaches New Zealands west coast
When Ash started making jewellery, sourcing ethically produced precious metals was pretty well impossible. Many hours spent searching and researching online came up with a lot of grim news and not a lot of answers. 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". Yikes!
He had lots of talks with his metal supplier and they confirmed that the gold they use is either mined in New Zealand or Australia or made from recycled metal. Which was good news, as both of these countries have relatively good mining practices. They also agreed to supply us with 100% recycled sterling silver, even better news! However, Ash felt that he could probably come up with a way to offer an even better choice.
One day he had an epiphany! He remembered that his Dad (who has a serious case of gold fever) worked for a guy on the west coast that had a super small scale alluvial black sand mining set up. And by super small, we mean super small. It's two people, a tractor and a beach. No giant open pit mines, no displaced communities, no mining waste. So we headed down to the Coast and met up with our man in a shed near the beach. We bought our first ounce of pure gold. We marvelled at how something so small could feel so heavy and cost so much money.
We love this gold for lots of reasons. Mostly, because we know everything about it. Suppliers can promise you the moon and stars, but you never REALLY know what you're getting. With this gold, we do. We love that it comes from a beach just a bit down the road from where Ash grew up. We love that Ash melts it down in our own workshop and forms it himself. We love that there are little imperfections in the surface that tell the gold's story. Mainly, we love giving people the choice to wear a ring that they can feel really good about.
A small pond is made with water from a nearby reservoir. The water is pumped under pressure to create a slurry of black sand containing millions of tiny flecks of pure 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 vacuumed up along with some sand and water.
Later, the sand and gold are separated 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 by catch, the operation also removes other metals from the area's mining past such as mercury.