Stars Collided To Make Your Gold – Forbes

The science world is on fire today with the announcement that astronomers have observed two neutron stars merging for the very first time.

For a full rundown of what happened and what it means, check out my colleague Ethan Siegel’s excellent coverage. He mentions one of the cool subplots of this story: the collision created an estimated $10 octillion—$10 billion, billion, billion—in gold. What?

Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science

Artist’s conception of a neutron star collision. (Illustration by Robin Dienel courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science)

Yeah. As astronomers were recording this kind of event for the first time, they were also confirming a theory about where the heaviest elements in the periodic table come from.

It starts with stars. Like our own Sun, stars are atom-smashing fusion machines, combining hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei and generating a tremendous amount of light and energy in the process. A a stars ages, it begins to produce heavier elements by fusing heavier nuclei, making carbon and oxygen and eventually metals like iron and nickel. When the star eventually collapses, it explodes in a supernova that scatters these elements across the cosmos.

That accounts for the elements up to the number 28. But where do the heavier elements—which are found in reasonable amounts in nature up to uranium, number 92—come from? With this latest discovery, astronomers now say the answer is neutron star collisions.

Neutron stars are harder and denser than anything else we know about, and are themselves the remnants of supernovae. As the name implies, they’re made almost entirely of neutrons, the neutral-charged particles that, along with protons, make up atoms’ nuclei.

On August 17, astronomers at the LIGO and VIRGO detectors spotted gravitational waves that signalled two neutron stars were colliding. (The actual collision took place about 130 million years ago, but the light only reached Earth in August.) The news spread around the astronomy world in a matter of minutes, and everyone swivelled their telescopes to watch this kind of collision for the first time.

The Plume of Gold Ejected by a Cosmic Collision – The Atlantic

Neutron stars are the collapsed cores of dead stars, the sole survivors of supernovae. They are the densest known objects in the universe; one neutron star measures about the size of a bustling city, but has about the same mass as our sun. A teaspoon of its contents would weigh about 10 million tons.

When neutron stars merge, they release a fire hose of neutrons. Heated to extreme temperatures, the neutrons bombard surrounding atoms, and form heavy elements. The baby elements go on to become part of other objects of the universe, like stars and planets, including our own.

The discovery confirms a long-standing astronomical theory. Astronomers have suspected for decades that neutron-star mergers were responsible for the production of most of the heavy elements found in the universe. The lightest of the elements, like hydrogen, helium, and lithium, came from the Big Bang. Heavier elements, like carbon and oxygen, came later, fused in the hearts of stars. Some even heavier elements erupted from supernovae. But computer simulations showed these explosions weren’t powerful enough to forge some of the elements that are heavier than iron, like the precious metals. The universe needed another kind of explosion called a kilonova, which shines 1,000 times brighter than a typical supernova.

Until this summer, astronomers only had theoretical models for such an event. Now, they say the new data suggests neutron-star mergers could account for about half of all elements heavier than iron in the universe.

“I think this can prove our idea that most of these elements are made in neutron-star mergers,” said Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who worked on the discovery, in a press release Monday. “We are seeing the heavy elements like gold and platinum being made in real time.”

Scientists will spend years poring over the data from this discovery. We’re just getting to know these cosmic collisions and the science behind them. But we have been long acquainted with their effects. The aftermath of neutron-star mergers is all around us, in our mines, computers, toasters, wedding bands—the list goes on.

Gold extends climb above $1300; copper set for highest finish since 2014 – MarketWatch










Gold ended lower Monday as the U.S. dollar strengthened slightly, but lingering uncertainty about the pace and scope of U.S. interest-rate hikes beyond December kept the yellow metal above the key $1,300 level for a second session in a row.

Copper prices, meanwhile, marked a more than three-year high as upbeat Chinese economic data lifted demand prospects for the industrial metal.

December gold












GCZ7, -0.55%










gave up $1.60, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,303 an ounce after earlier highs above $1,308. The exchange-traded SPDR Gold Trust












GLD, -0.69%










 lost 0.3% after posting a gain of around 2.1% last week.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index












DXY, +0.09%










and the WSJ Dollar Index












BUXX, +0.05%










a broader measure of the greenback’s performance, traded 0.1% higher. Last week, both indexes fell by 0.8%. Commodities priced in dollars often trade inversely with the dollar, as moves in the U.S. unit can influence the attractiveness of those commodities to holders of other currencies.

Read: Currency traders have already worn out there 2017 trading themes

Gold futures added more than 2% last week after a reading on U.S. inflation came in cooler than expected, raising uncertainty about rate hikes over coming months. But weekend comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen showed her likely persistence at removing credit-market accommodation, at least modestly, at coming Fed meetings. Rising interest rates tend to depress prices for nonyielding gold.

The “ongoing strength of the economy will warrant gradual increases” in short-term interest rates, Yellen on Sunday told a Group of 30 banking seminar in Washington. Yellen’s continued backing of rate hikes is in tune with market expectations that the Fed will bump up rates at its December meeting.

But the three rate hikes penciled in on the Fed’s dot plot for 2018 is more aggressive than the barely two rate hikes markets have priced in for 2018, according to Fed funds futures, and market uncertainty helps explain gold’s resilience in the near term, said Carsten Fritsch and the commodities team at Commerzbank, in a note.

In other trading, silver for December delivery












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fell 4.2 cents, or 0.2%, to $17.369 an ounce. It gained 3.7% for last week. The iShares Silver Trust












SLV, -0.98%










a silver-focused ETF, fell 0.2%. January platinum












PLF8, -0.79%










 slipped 0.2% to $945.70 an ounce.

Copper prices climbed Monday to mark the highest settlement since early August 2014, according to FactSet data. On Comex, December copper












HGZ7, +0.08%










rose 3.4% to $3.239 a pound.

Prices for the industrial metal broke through the psychologically important $7,000-a-ton technical barrier in London trading Monday as Chinese government data showed that the nation’s producer prices in September rose 6.9%, compared with the same period a year ago. Last week, data showed that the country’s imports rose 18.7% in September from a year earlier.

Palladium prices on Monday managed to hit a high of $1,005 an ounce, a roughly 16-year peak, with Adam Koos, president of Libertas Wealth Management Group, citing increased auto sales both in the U.S. and overseas for the boom in palladium, which is used in car parts.

Prices, however, settled lower for the session after posting gains in each of the last five weeks. December palladium












PAZ7, -0.43%










 fell 0.9% to $976.30 an ounce.































Huge gold discovery—astronomers can confirm how precious metals were formed – MarketWatch










The origin of gold and other precious metals in the universe has finally been confirmed after a gravitational wave collision was seen and heard in its entirety for the first time by thousands of astronomers around the globe, several of the scientific groups involved announced on Monday.



















‘The exquisite observations obtained in a few days showed we were observing a kilonova, an object whose light is powered by extreme nuclear reactions. This tells us that the heavy elements, like the gold or platinum in jewelry are the cinders, forged in the billion degree remnants of a merging neutron star.’


Dr. Joe Lyman, member of University of Warwick’s astronomy and astrophysics group







After two months of social media rumblings, Monday’s reports centered on one of the least studied of cosmic phenomena: the merger of dense remnants known as neutron stars, the shrunken cores of stars that have collapsed and burst.

Such a collision, or kilonova, is thought to have created many of the heavier elements in the universe, including almost all the precious metals—gold, silver, platinum and uranium among them. The neutron stars collided 130 million years ago but scientists were able to study the entirety of the event just now, Vox noted.

The collision produced as much gold as the mass of Earth, the blog phys.org, citing University of Warwick scientists, said in its report of the discovery.

Read: Gold slips but holds above $1,300; copper marks highest finish since 2014

For the casual jewelry collector or even the market’s












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 notable “gold bugs,” the science behind their precious commodity may be only of passing interest. For the astronomy and astrophysics world, however, it was indeed an invaluable discovery.
















University of Warwick/Mark Garlick


An artist’s illustration of two merging neutron stars.

“I can’t think of a similar situation in the field of science in my lifetime, where a single event provides so many staggering insights about our universe,” Daniel Holz, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, a larger group that studies gravitational waves, told the New York Times.

The network of scientists (one of the papers published Monday had 4,500 co-authors) were drawing close to the confirmation in recent years before this breakthrough. Less than two years ago scientists working at labs including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology first detected gravitational waves coming off two black holes.

Don’t miss: What’s next for industrial metals after a third-quarter rally?

According to Vox, the latest development confirmed that binary neutron star collisions can create gamma-ray bursts, and that gamma rays and gravitational waves travel at the same speed, the speed of light — something Albert Einstein correctly predicted 100 years ago as part of his general theory of relativity.






























Did half of universe’s gold come from space? Huge cosmic crash gives answers – Hindustan Times

It was a faint signal, but it told of one of the most violent acts in the universe, and it would soon reveal secrets of the cosmos, including how gold was created.

Astronomers around the world reacted to the signal quickly, focusing telescopes located on every continent and even in orbit to a distant spot in the sky.

What they witnessed in mid-August and revealed today was the long-ago collision of two neutron stars, a phenomenon California Institute of Technology’s David H. Reitze called “the most spectacular fireworks in the universe.”

“When these things collide, all hell breaks loose,” he said.

Measurements of the light and other energy emanating from the crash have helped scientists explain how planet-killing gamma ray bursts are born, how fast the universe is expanding, and where heavy elements like platinum and gold come from.

“This is getting everything you wish for,” said Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown, one of more than 4,000 scientists involved in the blitz of science that the crash kicked off. “This is our fantasy observation.”

It started in a galaxy called NGC 4993, seen from Earth in the Hydra constellation. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh 1 billion tons, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided, said Carnegie Institution astronomer Maria Drout.

The crash, called a kilonova, generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Albert Einstein.

The signal arrived on Earth on Aug. 17 after travelling 130 million light-years. A light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.

NASA’s Fermi telescope, which detects gamma rays, sent out the first alarm. Then, 1.7 seconds later, gravity wave detectors in Louisiana and Washington state that are a part of the LIGO Laboratory , whose founders won a Nobel Prize earlier this month, detected the crash. It issued a worldwide alert to focus telescopes on what became the most well-observed astronomical event in history.

Before August, the only other gravity waves detected by LIGO were generated by colliding black holes. But black holes let no light escape, so astronomers could see nothing.

This time there was plenty to see, measure and analyze: matter, light, and other radiation. The Hubble Space Telescope even got a snapshot of the afterglow.

“The completeness of this picture from the beginning to the end is unprecedented,” said Columbia University physics professor Szabolcs Marka. “There are many, many extraordinary discoveries within the discovery.”

The colliding stars spewed bright blue, super-hot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected neutron star collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren’t certain until they witnessed it.

“We see the gold being formed,” said Syracuse’s Brown. Calculations from a telescope measuring ultraviolet light showed that the combined mass of the heavy elements from this explosion is 1,300 times the mass of Earth. And all that stuff, including lighter elements, was thrown out in all different directions and is now speeding across the universe.

Perhaps one day the material will clump together into planets the way ours was formed, Reitze said, maybe ones with rich veins of precious metals.

“We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” said University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley.

The crash also helped explain the origins of one of the most dangerous forces of the cosmos, short gamma ray bursts, focused beams of radiation that could erase life on any planet that happened to get in the way. These bursts shoot out in two different directions perpendicular to where the two neutron stars first crash, Reitze said.

Luckily for us, the beams of gamma rays were not focused on Earth and were generated too far away to be a threat, he said.

Scientists knew that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. By using LIGO to measure gravitational waves while watching this event unfold, researchers came up with a new estimate for how fast that is happening, the so- called Hubble Constant. Before this, scientists came up with two slightly different answers using different techniques. The rough figure that came out of this event is between the original two, Reitze said.

The first optical images showed a bright blue dot that was very hot, which was likely the start of the heavy element creation process amid the neutron star debris, Drout said.

After a day or two that blue faded, becoming much fainter and redder. And after three weeks it was completely gone, she said.

Scientists involved with the search for gravitational waves said this was the event they had prepared for over more than 20 years.

The findings are “of spectacular importance,” said Penn State physicist Abhay Ashtekar, who wasn’t part of the research. “This is really brand new.”

Portland Jewelry Symposium Takes On The Future Of The Industry – Forbes

Like the little engine that could the Portland Jewelry Symposium celebrated its 10th anniversary. What began as a regional two-day gathering for independent jewelry retailers, designers and manufacturers has now grown to a national event.

Teresa Frye, a platinum casting specialist, said she started the symposium to fill a need in the northwestern United States for discussion and networking among independent jewelry professionals on the issues affecting the industry. It was modeled after the Santa Fe Symposium, founded more than 30 years ago by Eddie Bell of Rio Grande, Inc., a jewelry industry supplier of tools, equipment and know-how in the U.S. Frye has participated in the event as a speaker and attendee for many years.

Lena Knofler

Teresa Frye, the founder of the Portland Jewelry Symposium

The Santa Fe Symposium is international and attracts manufacturing professionals from some of the largest jewelry companies in the world. They present highly technical white papers on new findings in jewelry making production.

Frye says the Portland symposium is different in that it is geared toward a variety of small, independent companies and combines technical white papers with artistic and business presentations. It received Bell’s blessing and Rio Grande is one of its major sponsors, providing bench jewelry demonstrations. The symposium prides itself on being a non-commercial venue for jewelry professionals.

The symposium was held October 1 and 2 at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland. Approximately 150 independent jewelers listened to speakers from diverse backgrounds who gave their interpretations of this year’s theme, “Future Think: Innovate, Create, Thrive.”

“It just seemed like so much evolution is going on so maybe we should just focus on the future so everybody can sit here for a day-and-a-half and think about the next 10, 15 years for their businesses,” Frye said.

Frye, owner and president of TechForm Advanced Casting Technology, said her business is 95% digital. She is most interested in how designers will adapt to new ways of creating jewelry without losing the human aspect of the artistry and design.

“It’s so easy to look at the robots and say that has nothing to do with my craft. Yet we can’t avoid it,” she said in an interview during a break at the event. “It’s crucial to our survival that we pick the elements of technology that are going to help us to not just survive but to stay at the top of our game and I think that’s the challenge for the industry because we really are so traditional.”

She says there is no one answer, designers, manufacturers and retailers will have to adapt various elements of technology in ways that will enhance their businesses.

“Our customers value the handcrafted nature of what we do, yet we’re going to have to give up some of that. All the top brands know that they have to select the elements of technology that is going to help them to remain competitive yet they can’t lose their soul in the process. I still don’t know what the answer because it really lies with the designers as far as the aesthetics of what we’re creating and how do we not lose that in the process.”

Anthony DeMarco

One of the 3D printers at the Portland Jewelry Symposium. It was the hot topic at the event.

The biggest discussion point was 3D printing, many were on display at the event. The technology is being used regularly to produce jewelry models that are used for casting. However, the newest generation of 3D printers can now print jewels using precious metals. The process hasn’t been perfected yet but it will get better.

“I’m thinking about this next evolution of 3D printing,” Frye said. “Is jewelry going to start looking all the same because we’re letting the technology dictate the designs? That’s the challenge for the industry and I fully expect there will be many designers who are going to overcome that challenge but there may be inherent limitations with the technology. There is probably going to be a multitude of solutions and what we’re trying to do here is to get that conversation going. We have the experts here talking about what’s out there and then we have the networking with real world jewelers who will challenge these technologies. That’s when you have the really interesting conversations.”

There were nine presentations, including the keynote, discussing a variety of topics that included digital trends, succession planning for small businesses, social media tips for jewelry designers, responsible sourcing of materials, and the artistic process. Between the presentations there were bench jewelry demonstrations and networking breaks.

Anthony DeMarco

Jewelry models created with 3D printers

Kevin Abernathy of BIS Ventures, in his presentation on trends in digital manufacturing, answered one of Frye’s questions, saying that 3D metal printing is the next big thing and that artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing and other technologies are already commonplace in the world’s largest companies and will soon be commonplace in the jewelry industry.

Abernathy, whose company consults with jewelry manufacturers on their automated and digital technology, said he was an early adapter of 3D printing and computer numerical control (computers automation of machine tools). Because of these technologies, “vendors can help you navigate the minutiae of the design in your mind.”

Abernathy assured those in the audience that these technologies will not replace humans.

“At the end of the day it takes a human, an artist putting that love into a piece of jewelry,” he said. “No machine will ever replace that and no robot will ever do it.”

The keynote address for the symposium was delivered by Peter Smith, jewelry industry consultant and author, who discussed the future of jewelry retail. He says the data shows that despite the doom and gloom headlines, retail stores are not dying because of eCommerce.

“This fear that somehow we’re losing business to online is just not based in reality,” he said.

Instead, he argues what is happening is a transformation of the retail business combining the bricks-and-mortar experience with the convenience of eCommerce. However, it’s the retail store that will continue to drive the business. It’s different from the better known Omnichannel retail strategy, which suggests a more robust eCommerce presence.

In most cases, he says, retailers who are losing customers are doing so because they are not providing a high-quality store experience. He said the landscape of the retail industry can be broken down to convenience and price sensitive stores, such as Costco; and stores that focus on experience, such as Apple, Starbucks and Tiffany & Co.

Jewelry retailers cannot compete with price so they have to create stores that provide a better experience for their customers. It includes revaluating everything about the store, from the lighting to the music to the scent (which can be purchased) in a way that creates a story about the retail experience they want to deliver.

Smith also encouraged retailers to streamline their product offerings and focus on what sells and to build eCommerce websites in order to create a well-rounded retail experience.

Lena Knofler

Peter Smith, keynote speaker at Portland Jewelry Symposium

Responsible sourcing—a voluntary commitment by companies to take into account social and environmental considerations when managing their relationships with suppliers—was the theme of last year’s symposium and it in many ways it is the future of the jewelry industry. Monica Stephenson of ANZA Gems, spoke on this topic. She is a jewelry industry writer and entrepreneur who became an “accidental gem dealer” after traveling to East Africa. She works with artisan gemstone miners in Kenya and Tanzania through fair trade purchasing and supporting mining communities with her profits.

Stephenson said consumers are smarter, savvier and more informed and want to know the origin of their products. She warned that retailers don’t want to be caught not knowing the origin of their products.

“We live in a world with people who want to know where their tomato comes from,” she said. “Do you really want to be the person who can’t answer that question?”

Sherris Cottier Shank, an award-winning gem artist and master gem carver, is an example of the diversity of the speakers at the symposium.

Lena Knofler

A technology demonstration at the Portland Jewelry Symposium

Shank, describes herself as an “odd duck” in the jewelry industry because what she like in gemstone jewelry is rarely displayed in stores.

“If this was the solar system I would be way out there in Pluto,” she said. “If I were to walk in most jewelry stores today I would turn around and leave. Most jewelry stores would have nothing that interests me because I’m an odd duck. There are others like me and I know this because they contact me out of the blue.”

She began her career as a bench jeweler but discovered that she loved the art of gemstone carving. A self-described “girl who plays around in the dirt,” she sometimes goes to the mines to select her gems. She said dealers have mixed reactions when selling to her.

“I’m very careful when I select rough and the sellers either love me or hate me. They usually give me a pad and let me select my own (stones),” she said. “Start with a good piece of rough come up with a good design and polish it right. If you don’t polish it right you lose money.”

Shank, known for a handful of signature of carvings, has received numerous awards. Several of her pieces are on display in museums, including National Gem & Mineral Collections of the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. She works with exceptional jewelry artists who mount her gems into jewels.

She challenged retailers and others in the jewelry industry to think “beyond mainstream” when specifying jewelry.

“All of this automation is really great but remember there are other people out there beyond mainstream,” she said. “Take the time to talk to them and find out what they like.”

Finley is Giving Away Real Gold and Silver Jewelry, For Free—Here’s Why – Glamour

I follow a ridiculous number of jewelry brands on Instagram—I gave up counting at 31. My feed is filled with thick, brass hoop earrings resting sedately on marble trays, zodiac medallions layered with nameplate necklaces and diamond chokers, pinkies adorned with custom-engraved gold signet rings and silver stacks. But how many of these jewelry brands have I actually worn, you ask? Uh, that’d be a mere four out of 30-something. It’s a ratio that probably drives the founders of many new jewelry companies nuts: If Instagram likes were actual sales, they’d live in solid-gold houses.

Of course, it’s easy for a potential customer to follow and “like” a brand on social media. It’s much harder to get that follower to actually part with their hard-earned cash and buy something. It’s a dilemma every new brand faces, and one that the founders of Finley Jewelry have solved for in a pretty clever way: by giving their real, fine jewelry away for free. Yes, y’all: FOR. FREE.

It’s a proposition I was low-key suspicious of when I first saw it on Instagram. Here’s how it works: For the price of shipping (which costs $17.89, since the brand is currently shipping straight from its workshop in Hong Kong), Finley will send you your choice of a ring, earring, or choker from its “Essentials Collection” in silver or 14k gold vermeil for free. You can also purchase all three pieces for $40.

I tried it, and can confirm that it’s real. The Gigi Choker (pictured above) I received is lovely and well-made—I found it comparable in quality to similar pieces I own from Catbird—and its beading makes it a welcome upgrade from the basic delicate chain you probably already own. It’s just what my necklace-layering situation was missing.

The brand’s other styles are a minimalist pair of bar stud earrings and a simple, beaded band ring. More styles will come soon (and shipping costs will also drop once the brand starts fulfilling from Toronto). The promotion clearly works, because I’m now eager to see what the brand comes up with next—even if I have to, you know, pay for it.

Giving away free stuff is clearly a genius solution to the reluctant-customer problem—but how on earth is it possibly sustainable or profitable? “That’s ​the​ ​million​-dollar​ ​question!​” Kathleen ​Chan, Finley’s co-founder, laughs. She’s only kidding: Chan and longtime friend Nathan​ ​Tran​ Trinh launched the brand in August, having saved up what Chan calls “a​ healthy​ marketing budget.”​ ​However, the two have a background in marketing, and knew that getting new customers on board when the world has no shortage of cool jewelry brands would be both very difficult, and very expensive.

“​We​ ​thought, what’s​ the​ best​ ​way​ ​to​ learn about​ ​a​ brand?​ Experience​ ​the ​product ​first-hand,” Chan says.​ ​”We​ reworked​ ​our​ ​plan​—​​instead​ ​of spending the money ​on​ ​​flashy​ ​ads,​ we​ ​put​ ​all​ ​our​ advertising​ ​budget ​into​ ​covering​ pieces​ ​​for​ ​our​ ​early customers.​ We​ ​hoped​​ this​ ​would​ ​create​ ​grassroots​ ​buzz ​because​​ ​hey,​ ​it’s​ not​ ​everyday​ ​someone​ ​gives​ ​you​ free​ ​bling,​ ​and lucky​ ​​for us, ​it​ ​​has.”

In fact, the buzz has been way bigger than Finley’s founders anticipated. “The ​response​ ​has​ ​been​ ​massive,​” Chan reports. “Since​ we​ ​launched​ two​ months ​ago​, we’ve​ ​had​ ​over​ ​15,000​ ​orders—our​ ​site​ actually​ ​glitched​ ​out​ ​temporarily​ ​from​ ​all​ ​the​ traffic.” Thus far, it’s a word-of-mouth phenomenon: people trying the brand and spreading the word to their friends. Even at full price, Finley’s pieces are pretty reasonable—they range from $80 to $110—but there’s just no denying the appeal of free. Not gonna lie, I have personally sent out a few IG messages of the “GIRL, did you see this company is giving away jewelry?!” kind.

It’s a marketing model that’s not totally without precedent: A year ago, activewear label Girlfriend Collective generated lots of social media buzz (and subsequent press coverage) by giving away its leggings for the price of shipping alone. The promotion has since ended, and while the brand did not respond to our request for current sales figures, anecdotal data points tell us the promotion helped Girlfriend Collective establish a foothold in the also quite-crowded athletic market.

Photo: Courtesy of Finley

Another thing Finley has in common with Girlfriend Collective is the brands’ dedication to sustainability and ethical manufacturing. I’m going to admit right here that I routinely side-eye such claims, because it often seems like every direct-to-consumer brand on the block is touting its ethical bona fides, while not actually copping to the massive problems in the industry, or doing much to solve them. But I was genuinely impressed with Chan’s knowledge of and candor about the human and environmental costs of jewelry manufacturing, and her brand’s earnest dedication to doing things a better way.

“Two​ of​ the ​biggest​ ​concerns​ ​we​ ​​wanted ​to​ ​address​ ​are​ [the industry’s] ​unethical ​labor ​practices, and ​unsustainable​ ​water​ ​​process,” Chan says. “It’s​ ​unfortunately​ ​common​ ​to​ ​see​ forced​ ​or​ ​compulsory labor,​ ​unsafe​ ​work ​environments,​ unregulated​ ​​hours,​ ​the list​ ​goes​ ​on—it’s​ ​not​ ​something that​ ​should​ ​ever​ ​be​ ​accepted,​ ​let​ ​alone​ ​common​ ​in the​ ​industry.​” To correct for this, Finley works only with SA8000​-certified​ ​partners​ ​across ​its​ ​entire ​​production ​process, which means each one is subjected to rigorous, ongoing audits to ensure they’re exceeding guidelines for safe working conditions and paying employees at all levels fair wages.

Chan also minces no words about the jewelry industry’s environmental ills—the biggest of which, she says, concerns water. “​The​ ​water​ used​ ​to​ ​mine and​ ​manufacture​ ​jewelry​ ​contains​ ​a​ ​vast​ amount​ ​of​ ​corrosive​ ​waste​ ​metals,” she says. “More​ often​ than ​not,​ that ​water​ ​is​ dumped​ ​back​ ​into​ ​a​ ​water ​source​ ​that​ ​people ​and​ ​wildlife ​depend ​on,​ ​without​ ​being​ treated.​ ” This means water sources, such as rivers and streams, are contaminated, leading to “debilitated wildlife and ​potentially irreversible ​environmental​ ​damage.” To fight this, Finley puts all water used to craft its jewelry through a multi-step filtering process that separates the water from waste materials. The water is then sent to a ​recycling​ ​facility​ for​ ​use​ ​​in​ other​ ​​forms ​​of manufacturing. ​“It’s not​ ​a​ cheap​ ​process,” Chan says, ​”but​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​believe​ ​something​ ​as​ ​crucial​ ​as​ ​clean ​drinking ​water​ ​should ever​ ​be put​ ​at​ ​​risk.” To date, Finley has recycled over 67,000​ ​gallons​ ​of​ ​water​, ​and Chan says they will continue to put responsible wastewater handling at the forefront of their environmental policies.

Finley’s philosophy seems poised to overcome all manner of resistance to trying a new jewelry brand—whether you feel guilty for the environmental impact of your precious metals, or you just like to try before you buy. Even in a crowded jewelry market, that could be a recipe for success.

Chan reports that the brand plans to continue to help its manufacturing partners invest in cleaner technology, while adding new designs based on customer feedback. Currently, she says, customers are clamoring ​for​ ​”customizable jewelry​ ​options​ ​and​ ​astrological​-themed​ ​pieces​, which​ you’ll​ see​ in​ our​ full​ ​line.” There are​ ​​plans​ to introduce recycled metals into its collection down the line, too.

And about that full line: No official date as of press time, but it launches soon—and when it does, ​the ​free​-piece​ ​campaign​​ will​ be​ wrapping​ ​​up​, too. So get it while you still can.

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Craft Brewers Take a Shot at Anheuser Busch in New Campaign – AdAge.com

Finley is Giving Away Real Gold and Silver Jewelry, For Free—Here’s Why – Glamour

I follow a ridiculous number of jewelry brands on Instagram—I gave up counting at 31. My feed is filled with thick, brass hoop earrings resting sedately on marble trays, zodiac medallions layered with nameplate necklaces and diamond chokers, pinkies adorned with custom-engraved gold signet rings and silver stacks. But how many of these jewelry brands have I actually worn, you ask? Uh, that’d be a mere four out of 30-something. It’s a ratio that probably drives the founders of many new jewelry companies nuts: If Instagram likes were actual sales, they’d live in solid-gold houses.

Of course, it’s easy for a potential customer to follow and “like” a brand on social media. It’s much harder to get that follower to actually part with their hard-earned cash and buy something. It’s a dilemma every new brand faces, and one that the founders of Finley Jewelry have solved for in a pretty clever way: by giving their real, fine jewelry away for free. Yes, y’all: FOR. FREE.

It’s a proposition I was low-key suspicious of when I first saw it on Instagram. Here’s how it works: For the price of shipping (which costs $17.89, since the brand is currently shipping straight from its workshop in Hong Kong), Finley will send you your choice of a ring, earring, or choker from its “Essentials Collection” in silver or 14k gold vermeil for free. You can also purchase all three pieces for $40.

I tried it, and can confirm that it’s real. The Gigi Choker (pictured above) I received is lovely and well-made—I found it comparable in quality to similar pieces I own from Catbird—and its beading makes it a welcome upgrade from the basic delicate chain you probably already own. It’s just what my necklace-layering situation was missing.

The brand’s other styles are a minimalist pair of bar stud earrings and a simple, beaded band ring. More styles will come soon (and shipping costs will also drop once the brand starts fulfilling from Toronto). The promotion clearly works, because I’m now eager to see what the brand comes up with next—even if I have to, you know, pay for it.

Giving away free stuff is clearly a genius solution to the reluctant-customer problem—but how on earth is it possibly sustainable or profitable? “That’s ​the​ ​million​-dollar​ ​question!​” Kathleen ​Chan, Finley’s co-founder, laughs. She’s only kidding: Chan and longtime friend Nathan​ ​Tran​ Trinh launched the brand in August, having saved up what Chan calls “a​ healthy​ marketing budget.”​ ​However, the two have a background in marketing, and knew that getting new customers on board when the world has no shortage of cool jewelry brands would be both very difficult, and very expensive.

“​We​ ​thought, what’s​ the​ best​ ​way​ ​to​ learn about​ ​a​ brand?​ Experience​ ​the ​product ​first-hand,” Chan says.​ ​”We​ reworked​ ​our​ ​plan​—​​instead​ ​of spending the money ​on​ ​​flashy​ ​ads,​ we​ ​put​ ​all​ ​our​ advertising​ ​budget ​into​ ​covering​ pieces​ ​​for​ ​our​ ​early customers.​ We​ ​hoped​​ this​ ​would​ ​create​ ​grassroots​ ​buzz ​because​​ ​hey,​ ​it’s​ not​ ​everyday​ ​someone​ ​gives​ ​you​ free​ ​bling,​ ​and lucky​ ​​for us, ​it​ ​​has.”

In fact, the buzz has been way bigger than Finley’s founders anticipated. “The ​response​ ​has​ ​been​ ​massive,​” Chan reports. “Since​ we​ ​launched​ two​ months ​ago​, we’ve​ ​had​ ​over​ ​15,000​ ​orders—our​ ​site​ actually​ ​glitched​ ​out​ ​temporarily​ ​from​ ​all​ ​the​ traffic.” Thus far, it’s a word-of-mouth phenomenon: people trying the brand and spreading the word to their friends. Even at full price, Finley’s pieces are pretty reasonable—they range from $80 to $110—but there’s just no denying the appeal of free. Not gonna lie, I have personally sent out a few IG messages of the “GIRL, did you see this company is giving away jewelry?!” kind.

It’s a marketing model that’s not totally without precedent: A year ago, activewear label Girlfriend Collective generated lots of social media buzz (and subsequent press coverage) by giving away its leggings for the price of shipping alone. The promotion has since ended, and while the brand did not respond to our request for current sales figures, anecdotal data points tell us the promotion helped Girlfriend Collective establish a foothold in the also quite-crowded athletic market.

Photo: Courtesy of Finley

Another thing Finley has in common with Girlfriend Collective is the brands’ dedication to sustainability and ethical manufacturing. I’m going to admit right here that I routinely side-eye such claims, because it often seems like every direct-to-consumer brand on the block is touting its ethical bona fides, while not actually copping to the massive problems in the industry, or doing much to solve them. But I was genuinely impressed with Chan’s knowledge of and candor about the human and environmental costs of jewelry manufacturing, and her brand’s earnest dedication to doing things a better way.

“Two​ of​ the ​biggest​ ​concerns​ ​we​ ​​wanted ​to​ ​address​ ​are​ [the industry’s] ​unethical ​labor ​practices, and ​unsustainable​ ​water​ ​​process,” Chan says. “It’s​ ​unfortunately​ ​common​ ​to​ ​see​ forced​ ​or​ ​compulsory labor,​ ​unsafe​ ​work ​environments,​ unregulated​ ​​hours,​ ​the list​ ​goes​ ​on—it’s​ ​not​ ​something that​ ​should​ ​ever​ ​be​ ​accepted,​ ​let​ ​alone​ ​common​ ​in the​ ​industry.​” To correct for this, Finley works only with SA8000​-certified​ ​partners​ ​across ​its​ ​entire ​​production ​process, which means each one is subjected to rigorous, ongoing audits to ensure they’re exceeding guidelines for safe working conditions and paying employees at all levels fair wages.

Chan also minces no words about the jewelry industry’s environmental ills—the biggest of which, she says, concerns water. “​The​ ​water​ used​ ​to​ ​mine and​ ​manufacture​ ​jewelry​ ​contains​ ​a​ ​vast​ amount​ ​of​ ​corrosive​ ​waste​ ​metals,” she says. “More​ often​ than ​not,​ that ​water​ ​is​ dumped​ ​back​ ​into​ ​a​ ​water ​source​ ​that​ ​people ​and​ ​wildlife ​depend ​on,​ ​without​ ​being​ treated.​ ” This means water sources, such as rivers and streams, are contaminated, leading to “debilitated wildlife and ​potentially irreversible ​environmental​ ​damage.” To fight this, Finley puts all water used to craft its jewelry through a multi-step filtering process that separates the water from waste materials. The water is then sent to a ​recycling​ ​facility​ for​ ​use​ ​​in​ other​ ​​forms ​​of manufacturing. ​“It’s not​ ​a​ cheap​ ​process,” Chan says, ​”but​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​believe​ ​something​ ​as​ ​crucial​ ​as​ ​clean ​drinking ​water​ ​should ever​ ​be put​ ​at​ ​​risk.” To date, Finley has recycled over 67,000​ ​gallons​ ​of​ ​water​, ​and Chan says they will continue to put responsible wastewater handling at the forefront of their environmental policies.

Finley’s philosophy seems poised to overcome all manner of resistance to trying a new jewelry brand—whether you feel guilty for the environmental impact of your precious metals, or you just like to try before you buy. Even in a crowded jewelry market, that could be a recipe for success.

Chan reports that the brand plans to continue to help its manufacturing partners invest in cleaner technology, while adding new designs based on customer feedback. Currently, she says, customers are clamoring ​for​ ​”customizable jewelry​ ​options​ ​and​ ​astrological​-themed​ ​pieces​, which​ you’ll​ see​ in​ our​ full​ ​line.” There are​ ​​plans​ to introduce recycled metals into its collection down the line, too.

And about that full line: No official date as of press time, but it launches soon—and when it does, ​the ​free​-piece​ ​campaign​​ will​ be​ wrapping​ ​​up​, too. So get it while you still can.

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