Have you noticed that for our custom jewelry, you can upgrade to eco gold? This small drop-down option is the wonderful marriage of our dreams and hard work! I explained the current state of available gold on our ‘What is Ethical Gold?’ post, and now I want to expand on what exactly we promise at Gardens of the Sun!
As we’re based in Indonesia, the simplest answer to why we decided to venture out on our own is this: gold is readily available here. Going local means we can get to know the people we work with. Going local means we’re cutting our carbon footprint. Sourcing locally also means we can give back locally, which makes a lot of sense to me! While I considered Fairmined and Fairtrade gold, in the end the maths didn’t add up.
I was lucky enough to have friends (of friends of friends - this part took a while) who introduced me to a local NGO, Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta. They became our amazing partner organization, and facilitated the creation of the group of women miners we work with, as well as coaching them on how they can process the gold they panned without the use of mercury. And to be honest, that’s only scratching the surface of their work! It wasn’t an easy feat to achieve, but it does make it so satisfying to finally be able to say that Gardens of the Sun is now proudly working with artisanal gold miners in Indonesia.
Other than my love affair with the island, Kalimantan is a special place. It's home to breathtaking flora and fauna, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. It’s also home to the Dayak people, the names for the many tribes of indigenous people living near and in the forests of Kalimantan. Kalimantan was the start of my life as a forester for a great number of years. It even birthed the name Gardens of the Sun!
Kalimantan is also the home of plenty environmental issues that need to be fixed asap. Sourcing our materials from this breathtaking island, means more chances to give back to it. A way to help undo the damage done to its environment and its people.
Central Kalimantan has its very own Gold Belt, which over the years has been overly exploited. Lush forest has turned into barren wastelands. Mining sites are a major culprit. Rehabilitation of the land is something I feel very strongly about. For that we need the support of its people, many of whom are still using harmful practices to eek out a meager living from leftover gold.
Did you know that the original Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland was inspired by actual hatters who went mad? In ye olden days, hatters used mercury to for felt that was used in hats. The constant contact with mercury led to neurological disorders. It drove them mad, before eventually killing them. Because that’s what mercury poisoning can do. Not to mention physical deformities that may occur to unborn babies.
With the help of our friends, we’ve managed to set up a partnership that would benefit everyone in the long run. Gardens of the Sun now works with an amazing group of indigenous miners (mostly women). They’re panning for gold in the way their ancestors used to do – without mercury!
OUR GOLD PROMISE
We debated whether we should be calling our gold eco or ethical. The definitions are similar enough; it does no harm, and instead promotes the betterment of existing conditions. But once we picked apart why our gold deserves a label for eco and/or ethical it quickly became clear which one was more relevant. It’s not just eco. Our gold is better for people too.
I decided to break down our gold promise into 4 main points;
It’s important to me, to everyone in the team, that the gold we work with avoids harming the environment and the people it interacts with. Our indigenous miners are a part of our team. Not only that, they’re an integral part of it!
So here it is. This is our ethical gold promise. We promise you that the gold we work with does no harm to the environment and its people. We promise that instead, it promotes the betterment of existing conditions.
Gardens of the Sun is where all that glitters is guilt-free.