Buying recycled paper may always be on your mind. The same may go for fabrics and plastics too. But have you ever given a thought to your jewelry? Anyone who's seen the recent film Blood Diamond knows that a lot of devious stuff goes on in the jewelry industry. But besides using and harming people (as seen in the film), mining precious metals and gems also uses and harms the environment, contaminates the water supply and endangers the health of humans and animals in the area. Ecosystems are constantly being destroyed to help us fill up our jewelry boxes. But that doesn't mean you have to start shunning your addition to sparkly baubles. There's a better way. buying jewelry made from recycled gold and gemstones. 

Recycled gold looks just the same and is just as valuable as the fresh-from-the-mine stuff. Basically gold is gold. And there's a ton of it sitting around being unused. According to greenkarat.com, one of my favorite recycled jewelry resources, there's enough gold mined right now to satisfy all of the demands of the entire jewelry industry for the next 50 years. But they just keep on digging. So a few eco-friendly companies are taking the initiative by creating and selling recycled gold.

Greenkarat.com offers a variety of pieces, from modern to whimsical, that will suit every taste. My favorite piece right now is the Lobed Leaf Earrings. Plus you can completely customize your order, to create a unique, one of a kind piece. The website has everything from ornate evening pieces to tiny everyday items. They also sell wedding bands and engagement rings made from recycled gold and gemstones (what a wonderful way to make a commitment to your partner and to the environment).

One of my favorite 'green jewelers' is Pippa Small, an amazingly enchanting woman in upscale London. Pippa is one of those women you just sit back and watch because she's so mesmerizing, feminine, hip and powerful. Not only are Pippa's exquisite designs safe, each is a one of a kind. When not designing her own collection she uses her background in anthropology to help indigenous communities, such as the Kuna in Panama, research and create their traditional jewelry designs to generate self-sufficiency and income. Read more about her and see a small sampling of her work at www.pippasmall.com. A small sampling of her jewelry can also be purchased in the U.S. at www.twistonline.com.

Another piece that's on my wish list is the Live Green necklace from Mauri Pioppo. The simply gorgeous design includes a circular pendant featuring the word 'live' surrounded by tiny clusters of green tsavorite stones. You can get it in white or yellow gold, or the slightly cheaper sterling silver version at mauripioppo.com. An added bonus: 15% of the proceeds will go to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Looking for something a little more unique? There's always vintage and estate jewelry. You can recycle gold yourself by purchasing amazing pieces that may also tell an amazing story. And next time you stop by your favorite jewelry store, ask them about recycled jewelry. You may be surprised to find out they have a few recycled pieces. Or, just by showing your interest, you may spark the company into selling it for itself.