Show #128: Jewellery – the unshiny truth with Marc Choyt


And a quick public service announcement: Go Low Tox starts Feb 25th and there are only two rounds this year, live coached by me so jump in and join me if you want to go over everything in your day to day and feel impenetrable to the green-washing, excess buying, hormone disruptive world we live in:


And onto this week’s show!

Have you ever thought about where your jewellery came from? Maybe from one of the big name classics, maybe from the local hand made jeweller at the markets. Have you ever thought about whether THEY know where their materials come from? Unfortunately “shiny and sparkly” are words that don’t come to mind when I chat to today’s guest, Marc Choyt, the only ethical, fairtrade gold jeweller in the USA and president of the Fair Jewellery Action Group. He wrote an expose called: Ethical Jewelry Expose: Lies, Damn Lies and Conflict Free Diamonds that we found when we were wanting to do a show on Jewellery and it is seriously confronting to learn that “Conflict free” doesn’t, unfortunately, mean all that it conjures. Please don’t feel riddled with guilt for what you didn’t know yesterday, once you listen to today’s show. Feel excited about what you’re going to change from now and I’ve challenged us all to find ethical, fairtrade jewellers in our local area and share them as resources for the community in today’s show notes.



Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Jewelry, a company he co-founded with his wife, CEO and Creative Director Helen Chantler, in 1995. He initiated the first ever ethical jewelry blog in 2006, which evolved into Fair Jewelry Action, a human rights and environmental justice network.

Over the past fifteen years, he has been a trade watchdog, freelance writer for trade magazines, and campaigner for Indigenous miners’ rights. He also has worked as an anti-mining activist, leading a campaign to stop a gold mine just outside his hometown of Santa Fe, NM, where he has lived for over thirty years.

Since 2015 his company has been the first and only certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the US. He has focused on landing a Fairtrade Gold market in the North America, which would reduce global mercury pollution and could potentially alleviate poverty for hundreds of thousands of small-scale gold miners globally.

In October 2018, Choyt published the Ethical Jewelry Exposé: Lies, Damn Lies, and Conflict Free Diamonds. This is the first Exposé ever written by a jeweler about the jewelry industry. Choyt’s series of articles unmasks specious trade and consumer narratives behind one of the jewelry trade’s hottest trends: the emerging “ethical/responsible jewelry” market.



The questions I asked Marc:  


  • Your journey into discovering that jewellery wasn’t all that glitters and had a very dark side. Were you already conscious of food system injustice / environmental toxins or was this your gateway into conscious, aware choices.
  • Share how you and your wife made the foray into ethical jewellery?
  • From what I understand there are a few factors at play in jewellery – It’s not just the fairtrade aspects of the workforce / small scale miners it’s also mining methods and processing that can be very high tox… other factors?
  • Let’s start with diamonds (I too want to share a personal story about the effects of the film Blood Diamond) – What do we need to be aware of in terms of where we’ve come from in the history of diamond mining and trade?
  • And gold – I’ve heard you talk about how it can be a toxic process – can you talk us through it?
  • *Let’s add in anything else about the process of procurement here before continuing. Can discuss before we hit record*
  • So how did you go about becoming certified fairtrade – ONLY fairtrade certified gold jeweller in the USA might I add? What challenges did you run into as you went about establishing the supply chain?
  • How can we be better at sourcing jewellery / good questions we can ask when we’re in a jewellery shop so that we start to raise awareness and let jewellers everywhere know that we want to know we’re not hurting people/planet with our jewellery choices?
  • Are there any ‘greenwash’ labels/associations used in Jewellery that are similar to “All natural” and “Sustainable Palm” labels that often are quite far from what they sound like in fairness and toxicity?
  • And if we have time I’d love to chat about your work with Native Americans and what we can all learn from their cultural, spiritual wisdom and bring into our modern lives?


Other helpful links:

Join the next live coached round of GO LOW TOX HERE

To find out more about Marc Choyt check out his blog:

Read Marc’s Ethical Jewellery Expose “Lies, damn lies and conflict free diamonds”  HERE

Connect with Marc on Facebook or on Instagram @reflectivejewelry



Find ethical, fairtrade jewellers in your local area and share them as resources for the community in today’s show notes.




If you want to click through to iTunes from here to subscribe to the podcast and listen to this week’s show, and the episodes that have aired since our launch in July 2016, GO HERE

If you want to listen on your android, download Stitcher or click through HERE or you can buy the Pocket Cast App for Android.

If you want to listen on Spotify click through HERE.

Enjoy the show and thanks again for taking the time to rate and review the show on your app – it’s like tipping the bartender and it means the world.

Low Tox. Happy us. Happy planet

Comments 5

  1. Zoe is a Sydney based jeweller who designed and made my engagement ring – she is a beautiful person!

    “An environmentally and socially responsible approach is an essential tenet of Zoë Pook Jewellery. Zoë is one of a select group of international jewellers to be able to provide customers with gold from Fairtrade community driven mines across the world.”

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  2. What an amazing interview! I wasn’t sure I was overly interested ….but was hooked after the first 5 minutes. And was overwhelmed with his gratitude at the end of the interview – such a warm and generous soul. Thoroughly enjoyed this – your podcasts make my driving time so much more fun! thank you 🙂

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      So glad you enjoyed it Jacqui – isn’t Marc wonderful? I just love it when we find people who are genuinely fighting the good fight for people and planet and can share them with you guys. Glad it makes drive time so much fun (reminds me of the old rubber ducky jingle making bath time so much fun! hehe)

  3. Hi Alexx,
    I’ve just finished listening to this podcast, and thank you! I’m really enjoying overhauling my mind as well as my body on this journey!

    I haven’t been into the store yet to ask questions but I’ve found this company in Brisbane – Ethical Jewels that seem to tick the box

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