MJSA Vision Award Entry, “Fairmined Engagement Ring”


MJSA (Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America), a leading trade group for jewelers, celebrate outstanding talent in the field of jewelry design with its annual vision awards. This past year’s contest focused on design with responsibly sourced materials and environmentally sensitive manufacturing processes. A leader in setting new standards for sustainable jewelry making, Green Lake Jewelry Works’ founding artist and 2014 Vision award-winner, Krista Robertson, entered not only a ring but a unique approach to modern jewelry making.






It’s difficult to imagine a sustainably made engagement ring with more care put into its responsible sourcing of rare material. Cast with certified Fairmined gold from small-scale artisanal mines in Colombia (the same material now used for the Nobel Peace Prize), Green Lake is actively curbing the illegality and inequality associated with mining by advancing this global standard in the US. The sapphire for this piece was locally sourced as rough from a small-scale mine in Montana, where it was custom-cut at Green Lake (a direct-trade relationship that’s the vanguard for responsible gemstone sourcing). Certified Canadian diamonds, subject to standards designed to protect the environment and mine workers, were used in the ring’s halo.


While this specific ring has since sold, estimated prices can be seen here and you can have your very own made by starting a Design Page.





The gold for this ring was mined using rudimentary extraction and transportation methods which involve a small fraction of the fossil fuels that are needed for larger-scale strip mine operations. Cognizant of the use of mercury in the amalgamation process within artisanal mines like these – and its effect on overall global health – Green Lake simultaneously sponsors the Mercury Free Mining Challenge, a team of industry leaders and leading scientists focused on raising funds to research safe alternatives to mercury.


The sapphire in this ring also originates from a small-scale placer mine which operates only three-quarters of the year, relying on a collection of loaders and trommels which use less than one-quarter of one percent of the diesel needed to operate machinery in larger diamond mines. The use of turbid water recycled from settling ponds also offers a reduction in water use and the subsequent impact on surrounding fish and wildlife. Hand cutting these gems in a studio that’s only a day’s drive away (opposed to flying them around the world to be precision cut in a factory) also greatly reduces the carbon footprint of finished sapphires like the one featured in this entry.


The studio itself operates an energy-efficient HVAC system, strategically scheduled use of casting machinery, carefully maintained air compressors, all LED fixtures with automatic daylighting, double glazed windows and doors, composting in the lunchroom – and of course zero-waste with materials in the workshop. All of these measures have reduced monthly electricity use as both and manufacturer (expenses 40% of average industrial use in the state) and as a retailer.


For more information about Green Lake’s process and ongoing social and environmental responsibility initiatives, visit the Green Lake Mission page.