Solve pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

Model Mafia Activists Join Nonprofit Pure Earth and Over 30 Leading Jewelry Designers to Raise Awareness and Fight Pollution in the Fashion Industry and Beyond

Responsibly-Sourced Jewelry Auction Ends April 8

Note to Editors: Photos are available. Interviews with Pure Earth, the Model Mafia and designers on request.

New York, NY–Pure Earth, a nonprofit leader in global pollution cleanup, is teaming up with the Model Mafia, a collective of activist models brought together by Cameron Russell and Áine Rose Campbell, to raise awareness and fight pollution in the fashion industry and beyond through the launch of the 4th Pure Earth Pure Gold responsibly-sourced jewelry collection. The collection features pieces from more than 30 designers, with all works crafted using responsibly-sourced gold and stones. Hoover and Strong, Universal Metals, Diamond Foundry, and Perpetuum Jewels all donated materials to some of the participating designers. The collection will be auctioned until April 8 to support Pure Earth’s pollution cleanup work, including efforts to train artisanal gold miners to go mercury free.

“We are all connected by an invisible thread. It’s not just their problem. When artisanal gold miners in Indonesia, Peru or Ghana use mercury, they are not just poisoning themselves and their families – everyone is affected because mercury moves through the atmosphere and air pollution travels too,” says Pure Earth President Richard Fuller.  “And because of the complex global supply chain, pollution reaches us all in the food and products we use daily, from toys and cosmetics to baby food. For the past 20 years, Pure Earth has led the fight to call attention to and clean up toxic pollution in developing countries. We know how to solve pollution because our teams around the world do it every day.”

Designers contributing to this year’s collection are leaders in their field and strong advocates for responsible gold. They include Michael Aram, who has created a special necklace using a nugget of gold extracted using mercury-free methods by Peruvian artisanal gold miners trained by Pure Earth, accented with Diamond Foundry diamonds. Brilliant Earth, another contributor, has supported Pure Earth mercury-free trainings in Peru.

“Our community is always looking for creative transformative ways to engage the fashion community in environmental issues,” says Cameron Russell, co-founder of the Model Mafia.

“I hope that the Model Mafia and Pure Earth collaboration will raise awareness about the pollution created by most jewelry manufacturing, in particular, the fact that artisanal gold mining is the leading cause of mercury emissions. This mercury then travels into water systems and poisons both the marine life and anyone who eats the contaminated seafood. This is unacceptable…,” says Áine Rose Campbell, co-founder, Model Mafia.  “It’s really important for the fashion industry to get behind brands that are using clean gold so that we can see a change happen more quickly. Sustainable practices should be the norm, not the exception.”

“This responsible jewelry collection is just one way to raise awareness of pollution’s impact on all of us. As an industry, we want our consumers to be more aware of where their jewelry and gemstones come from, as well as the impact their purchasing decisions can make,” says Mona Sadat Akhavi, VP of Marketing, Diamond Foundry.

Pure Earth Pure Gold Designers and Models

Designers featured in the 4th Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewelry collection include: Aesa Jewelry, Allison Hall, AMANDA PEARL, Ani Khachian Fine Jewelry, Annika Inez, Arabel Lebrusan , Ariane Zurcher Designs, Bario Neal, Bayou with Love, Brilliant Earth, Casa Collab, Chandally, Christina Malle Jewelry, Dana Bronfman, Donna Distefano, East Fourth Street, Emily Chelsea Jewelry, Futura Jewelry, Gillian Steinhardt, Grace Lee, Halleh, Hi June Parker Jewelry , KATKIM, Leigh Miller Jewelry , Liam Powers Jewelry, Melissa Joy Manning , Merzatta, Michael Aram, Mociun, Pili Restrepo, S/H Koh, Scosha, Selin Kent, Shahla Karimi, Spinelli Kilcolin, Steven Jacob, Toby Pomeroy, Ursa Major and Vale.

The collection features members of the Model Mafia, including Hartje Andresen, Meisha Brooks, Áine Rose Campbell, Brana Dane and Renee Peters. Previous Pure Earth collections were presented by modeling sensation Molly Bair and Colombian actress, model and philanthropist Taliana Vargas.

Pollution facts:

  • Pollution is the largest environmental cause of premature death and disease in the world today. It causes 3Xs more deaths than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined, and 15Xs more deaths than war and all forms of violence. This was confirmed in a report released in 2017 by the landmark Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.
  • This month, the UN released the latest Global Environmental Outlook report concluding that environmental damage is behind 1 in 4 deaths worldwide.
  • Another report, Pollution Knows No Borders, shows how toxic pollution travels from country to country, not only in the air and water, but also in the food and products we buy.
  • Pollution is one global problem that can be solved. Solutions exist. Pure Earth has been successfully cleaning up toxic pollution in communities worldwide for 20 years

The High Price of Gold

About 10% to 25% of the world’s total gold supply comes from artisanal gold mining. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is the leading cause of mercury pollution in the world, accounting for over 30% of global emissions, making it one of the world’s worst pollution problems.

Artisanal gold miners work in dangerous conditions to earn a meager living. To help them extract small grains of gold from ore, miners add mercury, which binds with the gold to form an amalgam. When burned, the toxic mercury evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving behind gold.

Artisanal miners (including some 4.5 million women) and their families are often the first to suffer from mercury poisoning, but everyone is threatened because mercury travels far and wide, dropping into oceans and rivers, poisoning seafood we all consume.

Today, an estimated 19 million people are at risk of mercury poisoning. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and many organs. It passes through the placenta and travels into developing fetus, causing birth defects and brain damage.

Increasing demand for mercury-free gold will help more artisanal miners to go mercury free, ensuring their livelihoods while reducing mercury emissions, and preventing mercury poisoning globally.

What Is Being Done?

On the ground, Pure Earth has been working to reduce and prevent toxic mercury pollution in artisanal gold mining communities in Peru, Indonesia, Mongolia, and other countries. Pure Earth works to raise awareness among miners and their families about the dangers of mercury, train miners in mercury-free mining techniques, and work with local governments to scale up sustainable mining practices.

Pure Earth has been working with Filipino miner Leoncio Na-Oy for nearly a decade to test and teach a century-old mercury-free mining technique to artisanal miners worldwide. Other solutions include the responsible use of mercury-recapturing retorts. Because different methods are viable in different mining locations, Pure Earth is exploring a variety of techniques to reduce mercury that can be used in mines globally.

* Editor’s note: Photos are available. Interviews with Pure Earth, the Model Mafia and designers on request. Photo credits:  Photography by Jon Moe; Styling by Nina Farran; Clothing and shoes by; Hair/make-up by Romana Lai, Sunglasses by Just Human.

About Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute)

Pure Earth’s mission is to identify and clean up the poorest communities throughout the developing world where high concentrations of toxins have devastating health effects. Pure Earth devises cleanup strategies, empowers local champions, and secures support from national and international partnerships. Interventions to mitigate these toxic exposures while protecting livelihoods have proven to be manageable, cost-effective, and eminently do-able. By partnering with and empowering local champions, we clean up chemical and waste legacy toxic hotspots, prevent re-contamination and guard against future pollution. In 2019, Pure Earth marks 20 years as the leading NGO working on cleaning up toxic pollution in poor countries.

Contact:  Magdalene Sim, [email protected]