Jewelers Backing the Environment

ulu @ twin lakesJust every now and then you get a story that really makes you smile. This is one of them, and though it is short, it is full of hope. I know that sounds sappy and a little corny, but you’ll understand what I mean in a moment.

Alaska seems to be a bit under the pump these days, what with ANWR being sold off piece by piece, thus disrupting the economy of the state. Another problem Alaskans are facing is the prospect of the Bristol Bay Watershed being turned in to a North American’s largest open pit gold mine and a 896-square mile mining district. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management is attempting to open 3.6 million acres of Bristol Bay Watershed to hardrock mining.

To give you a small perspective on just what is being encroached upon here, we’ll turn to the Bristol Bay Alliance. Their website describes the Bristol Bay Watershed as producing “the world’s greatest commercial salmon fishery and internationally renowned salmon and trout runs that attract anglers from all over the world. The waters in this region have long been an integral part of the State’s economy and have provided sustainable jobs, subsistence foods and other benefits to Alaskans for generations”

This seems like all bad news, and in total contradiction to my opening statement, but this is where it gets better.

Together, jewelers Tiffany & Co., Ben Bridge Jeweler, Helzberg Diamonds, Fortunoff and Leber Jewelers, have collectively sworn off knowingly selling any jewelry made from gold that might be extracted from the above proposed gold mine.

“We are committed to sourcing our gold and other materials in ways that ensure the protection of natural resources such as the Bristol Bay watershed,” the pledge says. “We would not want the jewelry we sell to our customers to jeopardize this important natural resource.”

Now, you can imagine with Tiffany heading up the list, this is no small thing. And together, the five companies in 2006 sold $2.2 billion worth of jewelry.

A spokesman for Northern Dynasty Mines Inc., an American subsidiary of Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., said that he was surprised that none of the companies had spoken to them prior to signing this pledge. He added that Northern Dynasty would be contacting the retailers in the following weeks to describe the Pebble Mine project.

“We have made a commitment to employ the very highest standards at Pebble,” said the spokesman.

So all together now, let’s give three rousing cheers for the five jewelry companies; hip hip?

Photo Courtesy of tricia ward photography via Flickr

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