Green Lake adopts 100% Fairmined Certified gold



This year Green Lake is proud to announce that every ring cast in 14K, 18K and 22K yellow gold will now come from Fairmined certified mines. This means that the gold Green Lake uses within its studios will empower small-scale mining organizations to meet world-leading standards for responsible practices — making your wedding ring purchase a means to affect social and environmental good in the developing world.




The Fairmined assurance label is focused exclusively on organizing artisanal, small-scale gold miners ( or ‘ASGM),’ who by the tens of millions work with simple tools in remote areas all over the world. The scale may be small, accounting for only 20% of the gold supply each year, but the social and environmental impacts are big: ASGM supports a secondary economy of 50 to 100 million people in developing countries around the globe, providing vital opportunities to those with few economic alternatives. But it’s also an especially informal practice that’s susceptible to all sorts of conflict situations, such as money laundering for war or illicit drug trades, child labor, poor health, and environmental destruction (ASGM produces over a third of all mercury pollution globally).


So why would anyone in their right mind support ASGM, let alone be proud of it? Why shouldn’t jewelers like us rely exclusively on recycled gold, and boycott the extraction of new gold from ASGM outright? Indeed, all non-Fairmined metals used at Green Lake are 100% recycled, which is certainly a sound practice as it represents a near-zero social or environmental impact. But if we can work to guarantee an extra premium to incentivize responsible practices for ASGM to adopt safer methods and greater traceability, then we can actually make a positive impact. Asking subsistence laborers whose activity supports 100 million people in the developing world to stop mining is wholly unrealistic, especially given that the demand for gold is only increasing. Though by supporting new standards aimed at transforming the industry, demonstrating that you — the end consumer wants responsibly mined gold — we can bring ASGM communities out of the poverty, dangerous working conditions, and environmentally devastating activity that they’ll otherwise experience without global participation.




The idea is pretty simple: ASGM communities are approached with guaranteed price incentives to change the ways in which they work to become Fairmined certified, a process that takes about 24 months of substantial investment. Once certified, these organizations with new worker’s rights and environmental protection measures can gain direct access to market opportunities that sustain fair income and responsible mining.





In 2015, The Norwegian Mint, which produces the medal awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, decided to use Fairmined certified gold as a demonstration of how the challenges of ASGM can be transformed into opportunities for sustainable growth. It was the same year that Green Lake joined with other socially conscious jewelers around the world in their use of Fairmined Gold to craft rings, accessories, and watches.  Pioneers in this new approach to transparent gold sourcing were each led by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, experts in the field who developed the Fairmined Standard and the mining operations in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru (and Mongolia) that today supply responsible gold to global markets.


In the years since, Green Lake has crafted many pieces in Fairmined gold to display — from Founding Artist Krista Robertson’s entry for the MJSA Vision Award to Workshop Foreman Joe Worely’s entry for the AGTA Spectrum Award. Early on, access to enough materials to cover the thousands of bespoke wedding rings our studios craft each year was comparatively limited, keeping Fairmined Gold as an option that clients might elect to include. Today, however, we’re pleased to report that with more mines producing material, Fairmined Gold at Green Lake is no longer an exception; it’s the rule.





As is the case with Fairtrade labels on coffee, or Certified Organic labels on other foodstuffs, Green Lake will mark its 14k,18k and 22k gold pieces with the Fairmined assurance label. There is presently no ‘Fairmined platinum’ in the marketplace, as a majority of platinum-producing countries have operations that already abide by global standards (and the Fairmined label is still making inroads into Africa); Green Lake, by the way, casts 100% recycled platinum, which is certified by SCS Global Services.


By controlling all casting in the studio, as well as participating in quarterly reports and regular audits, Green Lake can claim with certainty that the gold used to handcraft each wedding ring is certified Fairmined.






Toxic mercury in small-scale gold production is a real problem, as ASGM accounts for over a third of mercury pollution globally — and all of that pollution never breaks down to a non-toxic state, cruelly effecting the communities that rely on substance gold mining the most. In creating the Fairmined standard, the Alliance for Responsible Mining’s pro-poor policy balances the overall goal of mercury reduction against the human right of artisanal miners and their families to satisfy their basic needs. To become a Fairmined operation, miners must first adopt cleaner concentration methods while drastically reducing their use of mercury, all with the aim of investing in technology to become completely chemical-free in years to come (a premium is paid for such ‘ecological’ gold).


In an effort to make those technologies more readily accessible and easily deployable, the Mercury Free Mining Challenge is organizing $1,000,000 prize to the research team or individual that discovers an environmentally friendly, affordable means of separating crushed, finely divided gold from its ore. As a corporate sponsor, Green Lake has organized its giving toward this cause to support improving our trade and the health of the world.


You can learn more at





To design your own wedding rings using fair trade materials and Fairmined certified gold, browse Green Lake’s galleries for inspiration and start a design page to connect with a designer, who can take your inspiration and begin working on rings made just for you.