Sustainable Jewelry? It’s possible!

Being sustainably fashionable has become a necessity. There are so many well-established brands and up and coming designers across the globe that are joining forces to create a more ethical and sustainable approach to fashion. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to ethical fashion are the manufacturing processes. Detox My Fashion is a project run by GreenPeace. Since 2011, the Detox campaign has challenged some of the world’s most popular clothing brands to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals. Thanks to the action of over half a million designers, bloggers, fashion fans and activists twenty global fashion leader, such as Adidas and Zara, have made commitment to detox their clothes. Many of the brands included in the campaign are now taking action- taking steps to create toxic-free fashion on behalf of their customers, the local communities and future generations. Bravo, GreenPeace!

But, what about accessories, respectively jewelry design? In case you were wondering, there are many jewelry labels around the world that are proving that rethinking material sourcing does not mean sacrificing design. Responsibly crafted jewelry comes in many shapes and forms. The latest IT material ethical designer use is the mercury-free gold extracted from the fairminded-certified mines that avoid hazardous mercury emissions. You have probably heard of ‘blood diamonds’, but did you know that gold mining is the leading source of mercury pollution in the world? Let us cover the basics.

What is responsible gold mining? 

Gold is one of the world’s most valuable and desirable commodities. Despite the recent slump in gold prices – after a long period of growth – it remains one of the most significant sources of revenue for many countries. Gold is also used in a wide range of applications from technology to health to currency; 60% of gold is turned into jewelry. Gold processing often takes place on site, using mercury or other harsh chemicals to extract the metals. Precious metal mining creates the largest global demand for mercury, and is the single largest source of intentionally released mercury in the world. The irresponsible use of mercury and its waste causes irreversible damage to the local environment, and subsequently the health of the surrounding communities. Responsibly undertaken, gold mining and its associated activities can have a transformative effect on socio-economic development in countries where gold is found. Responsible mining companies look to preserve the ecosystems around their operations, working on policies to conserve water supplies, maintain water quality, protect biodiversity and minimize their impact on the landscape. They also share the concerns of other energy-intensive sectors about their use of fossil fuels, and look for ways to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

What is ethical jewelry?

Ethical jewelry refers to ornaments made using fair and sustainable practices while sourcing materials from environmentally-friendly and socially responsible mines. It’s about supporting responsible mining and creating new opportunities. Basically, it means going to isolated mining communities, helping local cooperatives improve mining techniques, and discovering and enabling talented artisans. The ethical movement is fostered by the increasing awareness of sustainable consumption for minerals and jewelry. As a consequence, buying ethical jewelry contributes to the improvement of local communities by reducing poverty and promoting peace. Ethical consumption is a growth market with the potential to address sustainability issues and to improve business practices in favor of the actors at the bottom of the supply chain.

Where to buy ethical jewelry?

Everywhere! Literally! Awareness raising campaigns throughout the last couple of years have resulted in many jewelry manufacturers reconsidering their ethical work principles and focusing on sustainable methods of creating fine jewelry. There are also a lot of ethical jewelry brands out there that have established their businesses on sustainable principles since the very beginning. Read bellow where to shop online and try not to fall in love with some of the most beautiful designs I found.

AMALENA

Amalena is an ethical and eco-friendly jewelry brand, founded by Johanna María Mejía Sanchez. Even though her professional career started in the financial sector, she has always been interested in social issues. She made a difficult, but important, decision in her life when she decided to quit her work as a trader in Colombia and move to Austria to continue her academic career. She first got involved in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector through her Master’s thesis for her studies in International Business and Law. She conducted her thesis field research in Colombia where she  was able to have direct contact with local mining communities. They quickly won her heart, and since then she knew that this was the sector where she was destined to work. Amalena jewelry is produced of 18 carat eco-gold and it includes bracelets, earrings, pendants and necklaces.

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(Amalena Quilla and Saspi gold earrings, Photo Credit: Amalena)

PAMELA LOVE

From her apartment in Brooklyn New York, where it all started in 2007, to Manhattan’s garment district, Pamela Love is one of the most creative, eco-friendly designers in the world. Her eponymous line is committed to sustainability and localized production whenever possible. The majority of the line is produced domestically in New York City and Los Angeles. Any manufacturing done outside of the United States is carefully considered and vetted for social and environmental responsibility. They strive to keep old techniques and traditions alive while still employing new technologies that help to move their business forward.

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(Pamela Love Moon Cuff  and Apex Open Cuff, Photo Credit: Barneys New York)

AESA

Randi Mates is the designer behind Aesa jewelryd as a historian and a classical goldsmith, Mates established the company in 2007 and is based in New York City.  Aesa’s ouevre harkens to a grand tradition of craft in which handwork is revered. At the same time, Mates’ references are always varied and unconventional; the way she melds them is surprising, innovative and seamless. Each a small work of art, Mates’ designs are both poetic and sympathetic, making them covetable, sophisticated and intimate. Aesa is available at fine stores throughout the world and has recently joined Pure Earth’s latest endeavor- The Heavy Metal auction- which serves to showcase the best in responsibly crafted pieces.

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(Aesa mirror ring and The Answer Bangle, Photo Credit: AESA)