First Responsible Practice in Jewelry Leadership Award won by Toby Pomeroy

 

organised by Initiatives in Art and Culture

- PRESS RELEASE, May 2018 -

ethicsInitiatives in Art and Culture presented its inaugural Responsible Practice in Jewelry Leadership Award to Toby Pomeroy, designer, goldsmith and activist for social and environmental responsibility in the jewelry industry. He is the founder of the sustainable jewelry brand Toby Pomeroy in Corvallis, OR, USA. The new award, which will be given annually, recognizes a member of the jewelry industry or jewelry-focused organization that has made a transformational contribution to ethical sourcing and responsible practices in the worldwide gem and jewelry industry. The award was presented to Pomeroy at IAC’s Eighth Annual International Gold Conference, Gold: Vortex, Virtues, and Values, during the April 12-13 event.


A leader in the responsible sourcing movement, Toby Pomeroy committed to the possibility of reversing the environmental and social impacts of conventional gold mining in 2005, and was one of the first jewelry designers in the U.S. to use and promote the benefits of reclaimed gold and silver, via a pact with his refiner, Hoover & Strong, which subsequently became a third-party certified refiner/manufacturer of solely recycled precious metals products.
Realizing that he wanted to do more to source newly mined gold from a traceable and responsible source, Pomeroy joined the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a nongovernmental organization based in Colombia, South America, which created the Fairmined Gold Standard. He began purchasing gold from the miners certified by this standard, which, among many requirements, mandates they be organized and legal, employ safe and fair labor conditions, and provide socio-economic development within their mining communities through the Fairmined premium that jewelers pay to purchase the gold. Pomeroy continues to serve as the only American on its international board.


responsable gold by jeweller Toby PomeroyToday, Pomeroy sources gold for his entire collection of engagement and wedding rings using Fairmined Ecological Gold – an even stricter version of the Fairmined Gold certification, which additionally requires miners not use any toxic chemicals in the processing of gold, such as cyanide and mercury (the regular standard requires the gradual reduction in the use of these chemicals). Presently, only two mining communities are certified to sell Fairmined Ecological Gold.
The jeweler quickly realized that most artisanal and small-scale gold miners remained tied to mercury use because an efficient, easy, cost-effective alternative doesn’t exist for this worldwide community of workers, most of whom have no other way to make a living. The jeweler quickly realized that most artisanal and small-scale gold miners remained tied to mercury use because an efficient, easy, cost-effective alternative doesn’t exist for this worldwide community of workers, most of whom have no other way to make a living.


Although large, industrial gold miners don’t use mercury to separate gold from its ore, “it is still one of the greatest worldwide threats society faces today, because of the 20-30 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners who depend on it,” says Pomeroy. By current estimates, more than 2,000 tons are dumped into the environment every year. “Mercury, which never breaks down to a non-toxic state, impacts the development and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems in both people and wildlife and is particularly dangerous for the youngest among us,” says Pomeroy.
As a result of what he learned, Pomeroy founded the Mercury Free Mining Challenge, a global challenge to engineers, scientists, and academics to discover a mercury substitute that is effective, safe, affordable, and adoptable by artisanal and small-scale gold miners. The challenge incentivizes research with the offer of a $1 million prize. “We are a growing, global team of passionate players,” says Pomeroy, “committed to ending artisanal miners’ dependence on mercury.” To learn more about the challenge, please visit here.


“We are delighted to bestow the inaugural Responsible Practice in Jewelry Leadership Award on Toby Pomeroy,” say the chairs of the award’s selection committee, Lisa Koenigsberg, president, Initiatives in Art and Culture; and Christina Miller, independent consultant and co-founder/former executive director of Ethical Metalsmiths. “Toby epitomizes the kind of person for whom we created the award, and we are honored and delighted to be conferring it on him at the event.” To learn more about the Initiatives in Art and Culture and other events click here.

 

image golden bracelet @jewellery designer Toby Pomeroy
text & image Toby Pomeroy ©Initiatives in Art and Culture & Toby Pomeroy
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