First, a bit of background for the rings made on day 5 of the NM adventure.
When Matt and I decided that we were still talking to each other after our nearly month-long CA to TX road trip, we thought that rings were overrated. Both of us handle birds regularly and rings snag in mist nets. Rings get attacked by birds in captivity. Rings scare birds that you're trying to catch or handle. Besides, gold is the worst thing for the environment, ever. That link -
Ethicalweddings.com - for the record, is brilliant.
It tells us, in lovely pastel shades:
1 wedding ring creates an average of 20 tonnes of toxic waste by standard mining practices. Two thirds of newly mined gold is extracted from huge open pit mines, many of which can be seen from space.
Mines usually use cyanide, mercury, arsenic and sulphuric acid in their processing; mine waste can leach into the ground and waterways.
Um, yay? Diamonds would be entirely out of the question, in spite of the Diamond Mining Environmental Fact Sheet (which has a cute ad for conflict-free diamonds and eco-friendly gold). The only conflict-free and eco-friendly diamonds and gold are what's left in the ground. Wearing dirt does seem ethical in comparison to the facts and figures...
But Matt and I are reasonable people. And while neither of us likes yellow gold, we don't find silver too bad. In fact, we're even willing to exploit labor that we know and trust. We'd be making the rings ourselves - out of paperclips - if they weren't so darn prone to rusting. Hence we found ourselves with the cousin, in his unventilated basement shop. Oh yes, silver and fire and acid. The photo above shows Matt and his "deceptively small fingers." Ring sizing was interesting because we'd been away from the humidity long enough to have slightly thinner fingers.
The Ecologist article, "Can silver ever be ethical?" lends us this:
Generally, silver comes to market as a byproduct of the industrial mining of other metals, such as copper, zinc and gold. In 2005, only 30 per cent of silver came from actual silver mines.
The silver came from an unknown source, but was purchased at Santa Fe Jewelers Supply. The labor came from our own gene pool. The cores for wrapping the wire came from a nearby toolbox. And so, we were in business.
SFJS, cousin wrapping the wire, rings and their sizing utensils, off to the basement!
Pre-basement rings looked like this:
SW thumbs, day 5, part 2 = step-by-step ring documentation