Nickel is a widely used alloy in the jewelry industry as an additive to make a variation of white gold. We sometimes refer to this type of white gold as “nickel-white”, however, it is the standard in the US and when talking about white gold. Everling, as a company that strives to maintain a very high standard of ethical sourcing and sustainability, we have chosen to refrain from working with nickel-white gold. Not only is nickel, and it’s processing, toxic to the environment, it is also toxic to work with, making it a health concern for jewelers. And lastly, when a client says they have a metal allergy, the most common culprit is nickel. For all these reasons, we use a white gold alloy that is palladium based instead of nickel based, which you can read about on our Sustainability page.
Luckily, our clients Ali and Kyle share our concerns about the impacts that nickel mining, and its processing, have on the environment. As an expert, Kyle offered to write a blog pertaining to this issue in an effort to spread awareness. Thanks, Kyle! We truly appreciate your contribution.
About the writer:
Kyle Vickstrom is an environmental engineer focused on the remediation of hazardous wastes in soils, sediments, groundwater, and surface water. He has expertise in abandoned mine cleanups, industrial contamination in river waters and sediments, and complex groundwater sites. He earned his Masters degree from Oregon State University and works for the environmental firm CDM Smith on remediation projects in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and Midwest.
Environmental Impacts of Nickel Mining and Processing
by Kyle Vickstrom
In the jewelry industry, nickel is used primarily for plating and alloying with gold and silver, and represents a small percentage of its global consumption. However, it is used extensively in numerous other applications such as stainless-steel and nickel hydride batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles, and has become a ubiquitous material in modern society (1). There are many environmental issues associated with nickel including greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction, and contamination of air, water, and soil.
Nickel deposits are typically found in low-grade ores (~1-2% nickel) thus making it highly energy intensive to extract and refine the metal. This leads to high emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the use of large amounts of energy derived predominantly from fossil fuels (2). In a recent analysis, nickel was ranked as the 7th most damaging metal to human health and ecosystems with the 9th highest global warming potential, based on production levels from 2008 (3). In 2008, global nickel production was 1.57 million metric tons and has since grown to an estimated 2.1 million metric tons in 2017 (4, 5). This trend is expected to continue as global demand for nickel increases.
Indonesia, the Philippines, New Caledonia, Canada, Australia, and Russia are the largest producers of nickel, the majority of which is exported to other countries such as the United States and Japan (4, 6). The tropical nickel producing regions of the world are global biodiversity hotspots, and the destruction of native vegetation and contamination of large swaths of land from mine wastes has garnered international attention. In Indonesia, there is competition between the interests of nickel mining and its tropical rainforests, leading to a loss in biodiversity as global demand outweighs environmental concerns (7). In New Caledonia, an increase in nickel mining has led to habitat reduction and fragmentation causing serious risks to native species and an overall loss of biodiversity (8–10).
In 2017, Philippines Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mines and suspended operations at another five mines, mainly nickel producing mines, to fight environmental degradation from the industry. The move was supported and upheld by President Rodrigo Duterte, and was described by Secretary Lopez as a social justice issue (11). Unfortunately, environmental contamination from nickel mining is not uncommon, and has been documented in Canada (12), northwest Russia and Finland (13–15), and Cuba (16), amongst other places. The most common issues of environmental contamination are emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere, acid mine drainage (17) and heavy metals contamination in soil and water.
The use of recycled metals does reduce the overall impact of mining and processing nickel, but increasing global demand will continue to drive land use changes that benefit the mining industry. After the closure of mines in the Philippines, its nickel production dropped from 347,000 metric tons in 2016 to an estimated 230,000 metric tons in 2017; however, during that same period Indonesia’s production doubled from 199,000 to 400,000 metric tons (4). It is difficult to address problems such as this on a global scale and exact any tangible changes. However, change can be made on a personal level. As with all limited resources, it is best to reduce consumption first, reuse materials whenever possible, and recycle when the first two options are no longer possible.
- Nickel Institute, First and End Uses of Nickel. Nickel Inst., (available at https://www.nickelinstitute.org/NickelUseInSociety/AboutNickel/FirstAndEndUsesofNickel.aspx).
- T. E. Norgate, S. Jahanshahi, W. J. Rankin, J. Clean. Prod. 15, 838–848 (2007).
- P. Nuss, M. J. Eckelman, PLOS ONE. 9, e101298 (2014).
- U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018 (2018).
- U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2010 (2010).
- K. Nakajima et al., Sci. Total Environ. 586, 730–737 (2017).
- G. M. Mudd, Ore Geol. Rev. 38, 9–26 (2010).
- T. Jaffré, J. Munzinger, P. P. Lowry, Biodivers. Conserv. 19, 1485–1502 (2010).
- D. Moran, M. Petersone, F. Verones, Ecol. Indic. 60, 192–201 (2016).
- M. Pascal, De Forges Bertrand Richer, Le Guyader Hervé, Simberloff Daniel, Conserv. Biol. 22, 498–499 (2008).
- E. Dela Cruz, M. Serapio Jr, Philippines to shut half of mines, mostly nickel, in environmental… Reuters (2017), (available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-mining/philippines-to-shut-mines-suspend-several-as-clampdown-deepens-idUSKBN15H0BQ).
- T. C. Hutchinson, L. M. Whitby, Environ. Conserv. 1, 123–132 (1974).
- T. I. Moiseenko, L. P. Kudryavtseva, Environ. Pollut. 114, 285–297 (2001).
- T. Norseth, Sci. Total Environ. 148, 103–108 (1994).
- J. Seppälä, S. Koskela, M. Melanen, M. Palperi, Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 35, 61–76 (2002).
- H. GonzÄlez, M. RamÕrez, I. Torres, Environ. Geochem. Health. 19, 57–62 (1997).
17. A. Akcil, S. Koldas, J. Clean. Prod. 14, 1139–1145 (2006).
A group drawing class geared toward jewelry designers and visual communication.
Everling is excited to announce that we are celebrating four years of business this month!
Back in March of 2014, I scraped together all my savings and all my ideas to build a custom design studio in Seattle’s Central District. A crazy thought at the time since all the big jewelry stores are in Bellevue and downtown Seattle. But it has turned out to be a wonderful neighborhood studio and shop thanks to all of you- our clients!
I appreciate each and every one of you. By purchasing local, you help our neighborhood community continue to thrive. Thank you!!!
Year five… Here we come!
We’ve Got The Mermaid Blues
March is here and that means it is the month of Aquamarine! We find aquamarine to be an incredibly beautiful gem because of its water-like appearance. Literally, the name is derived from the Latin words “aqua” meaning water, and “marina” meaning the sea. Aquamarine is the blue variety of Beryl, the same mineral family as Emerald. Perhaps its most alluring attribute comes not from the gemstone itself, but from the words of the Roman Historian, Pliny, who referenced the gem as, “…seem[ing] to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea” (Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore, 51). It is our vision of Mermaids adorned by this water-like treasure, enchanting the depths of the sea, that captivates our imaginations and inspires us to dream.
Respectively, March is also the month of the Pisces, a water sign in the Zodiac, whose symbol is of two fish swirling around one another in a yin-yang fashion. This symbol is indicative of an essential duality, and life’s most fundamental rule: where there’s a beginning, there’s an end, and where there’s an end, there’s a beginning. Likewise, waves along a shore remind us with every breaking wave that there’ll be one more. All of these things tie gracefully together, the water and waves, the mermaids, the fish, and of course, the color blue. Aquamarine is so closely tied to the world’s oceans that in the past sailors would have aquamarine tokens carved with protection symbols and would carry their tokens on voyages to ensure safe passage.
Aquamarine is known for its pale to bright blue color and easy sparkle. But actually, aquamarine is most abundantly found in a green-blue color. Long ago, aquamarines were favored in their greener appearance. These days, however, the stronger blue tends to capture a higher price. For this reason, many aquas are heat treated to enhance the blue tones and diminish green tones.
Three varieties of aqua that are not commonly seen are Cat’s Eye Aquamarines, Star Aquamarines, and Moss Aquamarines. Cat’s eye aquas exhibit a rare phenomenon known as cat’s eye chatoyancy. This is where thousands of tiny needle inclusions in the aqua reach the surface and reflect light in such a way that the stone appears to have a cat’s eye-slit. A similar effect to the way a cat’s eye is formed is when those tiny needles form a star. What you’ll see as light hits the stone directly from above is rays of light protruding outward in opposing directions that resemble an asterisk. This is a rare effect in Aqua that is seen more widely in ruby and sapphire. Aquamarines exhibiting this effect are extremely valuable.
Last but not least we have Moss Aquamarines, not to be confused with moss agates. The inclusions that give moss aqua its name, look more like small black inclusions and sometimes dark needle inclusions. Because of this, Moss Aqua is actually considered a low quality aquamarine. But just as salt and pepper diamonds are becoming a trend, so are these aquas. For generations people have deemed included gemstones as poor in quality and, therefore, unpleasant to the eye and unworthy of putting into jewelry. But we believe that inclusions within gemstones are the fingerprints of a gem and an identifying feature. If you look closely enough you will see that inclusions can be absolutely fascinating, and sometimes make a gemstone truly unique.
At Everling we love all varieties of Aquamarine. We hope you’ll appreciate this gorgeous gem as much as we do! For inquiries on sourcing or for any other questions please feel free to Contact us!
Knuth, B. G. (2007). Gems in myth, legend, and lore. Parachute, CO: Jewelers Press.
Open to Page…
Pop the champagne and celebrate with us – the press is talking about Everling! Let’s turn to pages 54 & 55 in Seattle Bride Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2018 issue. You will find is one of our newest rings, the Sophia, showcased along with a handful of other wonderful alternative-style engagement rings! We are grateful to have been recognized and chosen to be part of this article. They say, love sometimes happens at first sight!
Red is in the Air!
Many new engagements happen on Valentine’s Day- as do many first kisses, first dates, and first courageous leaps towards love! While Amethyst is the official birthstone for the month of February, we consider this month to be the month of the ruby. Rubies have been regarded as the king of gems for thousands of years. People from all over the world have praised ruby for its alleged abilities to restore youth and vitality, and of course, as symbol of passionate love. Ruby, like a traditional bouquet of red roses, is the perfect gemstone to express devotion and desire between two people in love. Or perhaps ruby is just a great way to express love and devotion to this beautiful color of red!
It turns out that this king of gems is an incredibly rare gemstone to find in a fine quality. Burmese rubies are believed to be the most beautiful because of their unique color, superior luster, and clarity. But because of this, they are quite the high-ticket item. So much so, in fact, that when a ruby of superior quality is found, it is likely to be more expensive than a diamond of similar size and overall quality. Most fine rubies seen on the market today are between 1 and 3 carats in size. Anything above that will likely end up in the hands of collectors.
Some rubies on the market are now being filled with leaded glass as a way to enhance clarity, giving the stone a more transparent look. Large quantities of these lead-glass filled rubies began showing up in 2004 and are now common in the marketplace. This is an enhancement that can structurally compromise the gemstone, especially when repair work is done on the jewelry it is set in. While talking about glass filled rubies, it is important to note that there is a difference between heat treatment and glass filling. Heat is a common treatment that enhances color but that doesn’t structurally alter or compromise a gemstone. This is because no foreign material has been introduced to the gem. If you are interested in a ruby and don’t like the the price tag or the potential for conflict surrounding that stone, an alternative is a lab created ruby. These rubies are the same corundum material as a natural ruby, but created inside a lab with more perfect conditions than nature has to offer. These lab created rubies tend to be brilliant and consistent in color and of great clarity.
Whether you are looking for a natural ruby or a synthetic, there is no doubt this is a gorgeous gemstone! You might be considering this stone for a valentine’s day gift, an engagement ring, or perhaps for a little self love and self indulgence. Whatever the reason, this amazing color will make any piece of jewelry sparkle and shine with brilliance and depth. If you are looking for ideas for an alternative-style engagement ring, keep this alluring gemstone in mind. No matter what the piece of jewelry, we would love to help in any way we can to find the perfect gemstone (even if it isn’t a ruby) and make your jewelry dreams a reality.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the Everling Team!
A while back, this client came to us with a pile of old rings that she had inherited from the women in her family. We pulled out all of the diamonds and organized them in different arrangements to see what looked best. She knew she wanted a ring that had a low profile and that was fairly clean and straightforward in the design. One of the layouts that we came up with was this rectangular shape where the diamonds mirror each other in pattern on the diagonal.
Here is the before and after of the client’s family rings and the one that Everling finished using all of diamonds. The diamonds are pave set in a platinum with a rose gold split shank. This ring turned out to be an amazing statement piece, one that reminds the wearer each time she puts it on of the strong women from her life who watch over her as her guardian angels.
A Rainbow to Choose From
Many of you might have the belief that garnet is only found in the dark and dull, red color you see in birth stone charts online. Or perhaps someone gave you a piece of garnet jewelry for your 12th birthday that now sits in a jewelry box collecting dust. We’d hate for you to miss out on the stunning and gorgeous colors garnet has to offer! So, please, allow us to introduce you to seven varieties of garnet: Pyrope, Almandine, Rhodolite, Spessartite, Tsavorite, Demantoid, and Color-Change. Despite their common crystal structure, garnet’s color varieties come from different chemical compositions in the gem material. Actually, over twenty types of garnet have been discovered, but only a handful of these are gem quality and used in jewelry today. It is this wide spectrum of garnet colors and types that deserve our attention.
First we have the deep, dark red color we normally see in commercial jewelry stores. These are a mix between Almandine and Pyrope garnets. Pyrope garnets are dark red in color, like the color of pomegranate seeds. Almandine tends to have more of a brownish red hue.
Rhodolite is another commercially popular garnet, like the pyrope and almandine varieties. This gemstone has a slight hint of magentas, pinks, and purples. While it might sound overwhelming, this stone is actually the perfect blend of these three colors, making it an easy pairing with rose gold.
Moving on to the less commonly known types of garnet. These gemstones tend to be more expensive, more rare, and in their more perfect state, sought after by collectors. If you’re not a huge fan of the reds, but like orange tones, Spessartite garnets are something to behold. Since it is uncommon to find an eye-clean stone, the ones that are, tend to be higher in price, but absolutely worth the investment! If you are looking for the perfect non traditional gemstone option, it is worth taking a look at Spessartite.
Next up is green. If you’re into green and like the idea of an emerald, but are not too thrilled with the qualities or colors available for your budget, be sure to take a gander at Tsavorites and Demantoid garnets. These beauties come in a range of vivid green tones that are sure to dazzle the eye. And better yet, they don’t tend to have the large number of inclusions that make emeralds so fragile.
Last but definitely not least, and one of the more challenging to find, is the color-change garnet. Now, if you’re as curious about color-change garnets as we are, these gemstones are worth the search. Some of you might be aware of different type of color-change gemstone, the alexandrite. Ironically enough, color-change garnets can sometimes present a more intense color shift than alexandrite and can be more affordable! Luckily, this is due to Alexandrite’s high demand. It also helps that the color-change garnet is a well kept secret in the jewelry industry. The color-change garnets we have been seeing recently are a grape purple that shift to red and blue.
One of our favorite garnet vendors is another local, lady-owned business, Anza Gems. Monica, the owner, hand picks her rough gemstones directly from Tanzania and Kenya. Each gem sale goes to help fund schools and education within the mining communities of East Africa. Every gemstone provided by AnzaGems comes with a paper trail of its journey from rough to a cut and faceted gem. By purchasing from companies like Anza, we are ultimately supporting the miners that help bring these stunning gems to market!
Have we peaked your interest, yet?! We have explored seven different color varieties of garnet. They are jewelry friendly, absolutely gorgeous, and definitely worth looking into! Plus we are very excited to be hosting a handful of these in our studio that are available for viewing and purchase. If we don’t have a stone that you are looking for in stock, we are happy to bring a couple in for you to view. Please Contact us to find out more!
Although Blue Topaz generally takes the spotlight as the birthstone for December, we like to focus our attention on a more elusive December gemstone, Blue Zircon. Many people remain unaware that this magical gemstone exists, as it is often confused with the man-made stone, cubic zirconia. Zircon is a naturally occurring gemstone mined from the earth that comes in a wonderful array of colors. Because of its popularity amongst collectors and informed buyers, red zircon can be very expensive, but blue zircon tends to be a more affordable counterpart. Because it is doubly refractive, Zircon has a lot of fire and flash of color, meaning you will see double the facets and double the sparkle! It is also not as prone to inclusions as other gemstones, so the clarity of Zircon is usually excellent. Another interesting fact about zircon is that it sometimes contains small amounts of uranium, causing the gem material to irradiate itself and change its own chemical properties. How cool is that?! And last but not least, Zircon has a hardness on the MOHS scale of between 6 and 7.5 making this gem friendly to wear in a ring, and really well suited for earrings and pendants. We love Blue Zircon and we hope you will find this gemstone as wonderful and interesting as we do. It is the perfect gemstone for the month of December with it’s deep glacier blue color!