The Truth Behind the Jewelry Industry

Guya Merkle Didn’t Want To Do Anything With Her Family Jewelry Operation Only. Then She Came Up With The Horrible Machinations Of The Gold Mine Owner In Touch. And Became Active.

On The Way To An Uncertain Future

I have fear of flying-terrible fear of flying. I stare focused in the storm clouds looming around us, while we the airport by Lima fly to.

Already Manuel with translator Maria is waiting for me at the exit.They put me in the bus that will take us to twelve hours in the fishing village of Nasca.

Manuel miners in the third generation, in the Chamber he goes but no longer. He committed now to people’s rights, which mine gold jewelry under the most difficult conditions, reported by I became aware through an article on him, and contacted him.

Toxic Mercury And Inhuman Conditions

After my father, who led the jewellery label “Vieri”, died in 2007, I gave up my old life and I decided to a training in the “Gemological Institute of America” (GIA) in London. I wanted to understand what happened there all with jewellery and its manufacture.

While I saw pictures of gold mines and the feeling arose in me, that because something part goes wrong. So I asked – with little success. I learned that gold especially in Latin America and Africa is mined, but also in Mongolia and in China.

After searching the Internet, tags such as mercury, inhumane conditions and unfair payment were then added. More was however not to be found. Until I stumbled on an article of the “Alliance for responsible mining”, Manuel and his commitment to his profession. I contacted the headquarters in Bogota, booked a flight, made a crash therapy for fear of flying (which I could have saved me) and flew to Peru.

After twelve hours, we arrived in the village and I fell exhausted into bed my little hotel room. But after five hours it went already. For hours on dusty Geröllstraßen, 3000 meters high in the mountains. Yet I did not know that there is no water. At least none that you should drink.

Worse Than Expected

The image that offered us was corrugated iron shacks and dirt indescribably – everywhere. About 3,000 people live in the mining town. You work and live only for the gold prospecting: children, women, men.

We are made to feel welcome and fed. I add, when we arrived at a clay pit: A young man pouring mercury into the cool, pour in water and crushed rock and begins to stir around with his hand in it. It is a pungent odor in the air. I turn around to my translator, I have a question for the man. I want to ask whether they use because no gloves and just see how Maria passed out bags along beside me, foaming from the mouth and twitching.

I’m afraid, feel responsible, wonder aloud whether there’s a doctor here? Error display. But some women find themselves, bring the herbs, rub them Maria under the nose. She comes slowly to himself.Quecksilberschock. Coupled with heat and dehydration.

I’m also shocked. How can it be that in a multibillion-dollar luxury industry, which sells love, emotions, and dreams, something like that happens? Who feels responsible for this? Me it is clear that I would like to work in such an industry. I would like to go away. It’s too much.

I Want More Away-But Then, I Find The Way Out

Guya Merkle was 21 when her father died and she had to choose a new way of life. Since she manages the family business ‘Vieri’, only certified gold is processed.

On the way, I come to the car with a few women in the conversation. They tell me they are as proud of their work. But also, they work hard to and living on the breadline.There is no infrastructure, no education, no health care and no appreciation. You ask me whether I can tell in my country. Whether I can tell you of them.

We continue in a mine in the Manuel and the “Alliance for responsible mining” is already active. There, it looks different. Lively, cheerful. On a corner next to a soccer field, I discover trash bins in three colours–waste separation is part of the program, explains Manuel.

This mine is a certified mine. One that works based on fair principles. The mercury is used only in closed loops, the workers receive protective clothing, an education and they work legally. If you buy this gold, financed with important projects: education, infrastructure, health.

Of course there are challenges here–the demand of Certified Gold is still too low.

The Decision Has Been Made

I’m back on the plane. My brain is in full swing—there’s just no room for fear of flying. I choose whatever gut-quickly. Sometimes too fast. This time to the right place.

I want to lead my family business into a new era. I want to work responsibility. I want to build a company, that works holistically. I want to make jewelry, bringing only the best for anyone who thus comes into contact.

Since my return, “Vieri” works exclusively with ethically correct gold from the certified mine in Peru. In addition, I established a Foundation: the Earthbeat Foundation gives a voice and a face the miners. We tell their stories and we collaborate with them on alternatives. On structures that allow them to autonomously and self-determined a future to look forward to, we wish that all of us.

It’s about respect, appreciation and to humanity. And even though I thus turned my family business in a start-up, which is still in its infancy, I see every day that it is the right way. The one in my drive. Every day.