Patrick Duffy of Global Fashion Exchange Visits Futura

 

A VISIT TO THE FUTURA JEWELRY ATELIER by Patrick Duffy

It was a beautiful spring afternoon in NYC as I excitedly went for a visit to the Futura Jewelry Atelier. I had never really been behind the scenes of a Jewelry Atelier, so I was very excited to see how things were made. I had seen Futura popping up on Instagram on some of my friends' feeds, like Renee Elizabeth Peters and Ryan Carnes, and knowing more about this exciting new brand intrigued me.

I arrived, and it was top security, as expected. Several floors up, several doors I had to buzz through, and several lovely people were guiding me in making sure I was in the right place and of course, meant to be there. 

I was ushered into the office where I was greeted with a smile by Robert, a kind and charismatic man who was very excited to share the story of Futura with me.  The conversation started with "Patrick, tell me about you." Now, when people ask me that I often times think "Geez, where do I start?" So, I started from the beginning! I started from my days working in hospitality. From my "A-Ha" moment when I figured out that I was going to have to make great changes in my life, to going through all the moments in my life that led me to where I am now, which has become my passion: making a positive impact on people and planet through clothing swaps. 

I have to say, by the time I get a few minutes into the story, people are usually checking their watches or phones, wondering when I will be done yammering on about sustainability and the importance of caring about the planet. In this case, however, I seemed to have struck a chord with Robert because as soon as I got to the end of my not so "fairy" tale journey, he began to explain to me his passion for Futura. 

Robert has worked in the jewelry industry for over a decade. And his understanding of the industry, the product, the people who buy it, as well as how it is made is impressive. He, like me, had an "Ah-Ha" moment where he realized that what he needed to do was to change course in his own life. He felt called to dedicate his life and time to make the gold jewelry and mining industries ethical and safe for the people who make it…and for the Earth too. 

He explained, "Over 2,000 tons of gold are mined for jewelry every year. People are seriously injured and even lose their lives while working to extract gold from the ore. Also, people are often forcibly displaced to make way for the mines that are used. Waterways and soil are polluted, while mercury and other toxic chemicals destroy ecosystems and harm wildlife and people." 

My reaction? "WTF!". 

Robert continued, "This is why I decided to start Futura. It's of our highest priority to act responsibly in every step of the process, from protecting the environment to supporting human rights with ethical production, and only using Certified Fairmined Ecological gold." I have been working in the ethical and sustainable side of the fashion industry for a long time, but I haven't really focused too much on jewelry.  

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Below are the significant issues associated with a process known as "dirty mining" that we all should be aware of:

TOXIC WASTE

Gold Mining and the Environment:

Typical Industrial gold mining creates enormous amounts of toxic waste, filled with deadly cyanide and toxic heavy metals. These get dumped into waterways and the ocean ultimately killing coral reefs and ocean life.  Further, open-pit mining and cyanide heap-leaching, both common practices, generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every 0.333-ounce gold ring. 

ACID MINE DRAINAGE

Acid mine drainage is the result of dirty gold mining. It happens when the underground rock, disturbed by mining, is exposed to air and water for the first time. Iron sulfides in the rock react with the air (oxygen) and form sulfuric acid. When the mines drain the water, the levels can be anywhere from 30-200 times stronger than acid rain, wreaking havoc on natural organisms that are exposed to it. 

MERCURY POLLUTION

What many people don't know, is that the use of mercury in gold mining is a massive global health and environmental issue. Mercury is used frequently in smaller-scale operations to extract gold from rock and sediment. Mercury is extremely toxic, causing serious issues for miners’ health, and of course, the health of the planet.

Fact: For every 1 gram of gold produced, artisanal gold miners release about two grams of mercury into the environment. Each year, there are nearly 15 million small-scale gold miners who release about 1000 tons of mercury into the environment, which accounts for 35 percent of man-made mercury pollution. This process is among the leading causes of global mercury pollution, ahead of coal-fired power plants. 

DESTROYING THE AMAZON

The Amazon Rainforest is also being affected by the gold mining industry. Artisanal, or small-scale, gold miners are tearing down the forests at an alarming rate to harvest more gold with potentially detrimental long term effects. This acceleration of the destruction of this precious resource, that acts as the lungs for the Earth, is one more blow that it shouldn't have to handle. 

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The positives - What I love about Futura is the promise they make. 

Fairmined Ecological Gold

Futura Jewelry is the only jewelry in the world made exclusively with Certified Fairmined Ecological gold, which is mined without the use of toxic chemicals, such as mercury or cyanide. This protects humanity and the environment, including water sources, and prevents the irreversible effects of mercury vapors going into the atmosphere.

Responsible

Delivering social development and environmental protection, Futura provides gold we can be proud of.

Traceable

From the gold mine to your finger, Futura provides physical traceability from the sourcing of their gold, through their entire supply chain, and along the journey of their jewelry's creation. 

Sustainable

Futura safely mines pure gold, while changing the paradigm of our 'right-to-exploit' the natural environment. Adopting a worldwide view of respect for safe planetary operating limits, and removing the damage to the environment caused by gold mining.

Ethical

Futura takes pride in empowering miners with healthy and safe living and working conditions. As well as stability, gender equality, no child labor, and the creation of well-being in the community and support for workers’ rights.

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I should also mention the design. I have to say, I love the individuality of each piece. As well as the fact that they take inspiration from artists and designers like Man Ray and Robert Indiana.

"Selected for modern relevance and authentic intrigue, each design release is rich with creative imagination and soulful heritage. Our Creative Directors stem as far back as 1200 BC and were meticulous masters of their craft. We collaborate with the world's most notable jewelry historians to adventure through the centuries right up to the 1980s in exotic places of artistic expression such as India and Rome to discover refreshing treasures which are utterly modern for today."

Well, a few hours flew by in the office with Robert. I learned so much, that it has inspired me to dive deeper into the world of jewelry and mining to see how I can help. It's pretty clear that the mining industry needs to clean up its act, just like the fashion industry. I am proud to know about all the incredible work Futura is doing and even more excited to be able to share the story with you.

At the end of the day, we have a choice now that we've never had before. To choose pure gold jewelry that is timeless and reflects our conscious values. I strongly encourage you to learn more about the process as well as connecting with the Futura Brand to find out more about what they are doing to attempt to clean up a very dirty industry.

Click here to learn more about The Global Fashion Exchange.