Long after the reception is over, your wedding ring will continue to represent the vows you and your partner make to one another on your wedding day. That’s why it’s so important to choose a ring that will last as long as your lives together. Titanium, stainless steel, wood, silver and even silicone are used to create modern wedding rings – but no material is as synonymous with marriage as gold.
Gold remains the most popular choice for wedding rings, thanks to its timeless look, as well as the variety of colours and carats available. But while gold rings are the epitome of elegance, behind the scenes things aren’t always rosy.
Like diamond mining, gold mining is surrounded by controversy. Traditional gold miners can be subject to difficult working conditions, including hazardous work sites and exposure to harmful materials such as mercury. These chemicals can also contaminate the local water supply, putting the community at risk.
As people become more aware of the ethical concerns surrounding the origin of their jewellery, companies are taking action to ensure their gold is mined from a single, sustainable source with fully implemented fair trade practices. That’s where single mine origin gold comes in.
What Is Single Mine Origin Gold (SMO Gold)?
Single mine origin gold is a term used to describe gold that has been sourced from a conflict-free mining operation. The mining company must pay miners a fair living wage and provide safe working conditions. SMO gold mining operations must also work within the communities to provide education and healthcare support.
Traceability is a huge factor in SMO gold. While most regular gold can’t be traced back to its origins, the journey of SMO gold must be fully charted, from the mine to the jeweller. This means jewellers can be certain of the origins of their bullion, and assure customers that it comes from a socially responsible source.
Why Single Mine Origin Gold Is Important
Traditionally, gold jewellery is created using gold bullion that’s melted together from a number of different sources. As a result, it’s impossible to trace the origins of the bullion, which makes it difficult to know its credentials when it comes to conflict and sustainability.
Single mine origin gold changes this. The SMO gold mark denotes gold that has come from a single mining operation, which is committed to ethical, sustainable practices. By creating a transparent, traceable supply chain, companies that use SMO gold are able to ensure a better quality of life for gold miners and their communities. Plus, it provides clarity for jewellery makers and buyers – so they can make more informed decisions about the bullion and jewellery they purchase.
SMO Gold Vs Traditionally Mined Gold
Both SMO gold and traditionally mined gold are unearthed from hard rock, underground pits and waterways all over the world. That means the resulting product can be very similar. That said, ethics and sustainability aside, there are some key differences to note.
In its original form, SMO gold is pure 24 carat gold. Because it is traced from the point of origin to the point of sale, it remains unalloyed, allowing it to retain its purity. 24 carat gold is typically softer than gold with lower caratage, which means it is liable to scratch or break more easily than unalloyed gold.
Traditionally mined gold, meanwhile, is made up of bullion from a variety of sources. This means the quality and carat of the end product can vary. Lower carat gold is alloyed with other materials – such as copper, nickel, or zinc – to produce a product which is less pure, but often more hardwearing. Like traditionally mined gold, SMO gold can also be alloyed with other metals to produce more durable jewellery.
It’s important to note that there is a price premium for SMO gold. The effort and cost of implementing safe, fair working practices in gold mines all over the world is considerable, so it makes sense that SMO gold costs a little more than traditionally mined gold. But as well as paying for better working standards, you’re also getting a purer product – so it’s important for prospective buyers to weigh up the pros and cons when it comes to their gold wedding jewellery.
The Rise Of SMO Gold In Wedding Jewellery
The trend for rose gold and white gold wedding rings doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And since both of these gold variations are made using alloyed gold, there are few SMO rose gold and SMO white gold options currently on the wedding jewellery market.
But with many prominent jewellers committing to using SMO gold in their products, the market for single mine origin gold is sure to expand. People are increasingly thinking about ethics and sustainability when making buying decisions, too – which is sure to lead to a boom in SMO gold wedding jewellery.
Company practices are often driven by consumer culture. The more people want jewellery made from SMO gold, the more it will become widely offered, driving prices down and ethical mining practices up.
Why Choose An SMO Gold Wedding Ring
From strong sustainability practices to a high purity finish, there are tons of reasons to choose an SMO gold wedding ring. While you’re likely to pay a little more for the privilege, it’s important to choose a wedding ring that works for miners and communities all over the world, as well as for you and your partner.
With an SMO gold wedding ring, you can trace the story of your ring right back to its origins – a story that’s full of love, consideration, and fairness. After all, these are the principles your marriage will be built on – so make sure your jewellery reflects your relationship with an ethically sourced, sustainably produced wedding ring.
Still looking for the perfect ring to symbolise your partnership? Check out our guide to the different types of wedding rings you can buy, or take a look at all our wedding ring related articles here.