How to Shop for Sustainable Jewellery?
Does it matter if we buy sustainable jewellery?
We have limited world resources and every choice we make does make a difference. All the small choices we make added together make a big difference when you add them all up. As consumers we all play a part in the way we shop. Supporting the work of individual makers does help the local economy and every time we shop at a huge global enterprise it means the small businesses lose out. Thank you to all of my wonderful customers who help support my small business.
What is sustainable jewellery and why does it matter?
Sustainable fine jewellery is made from recycled silver or gold, so it's often described as Eco friendly. Repurposing silver or gold has been a sustainable practice for many years and reusing inherited jewellery and gemstones is sustainable.
Sustainably sourced gemstones are traceable to their source or origin, and the standard of living of the miners is generally much higher than those where the origin is not tracked or traceable. If you've heard about blood diamonds or conflict diamonds which was a problem particularly in the 1990s. These were diamonds that were mined in a war zone. The Kimberley Process was set up to ensure that diamonds were fairly sourced.
As jewellery designers the more often we specify and buy sustainably sourced gemstones, the better the conditions are likely to be for the workers who produce them. They will be treated better and paid a fair price for their work. We certainly shouldn't be exploiting others to make objects of beauty, so it's reassuring to know that sustainably sourced gemstones offer a fair wage to the workers who mine them. By asking where our gemstones come from we are encouraging our suppliers to ask questions too. As a consumer you can also ask questions about where your gemstones come from.
What are Sustainable making methods for Jewellery?
My jewellery is produced using environmentally friendly making methods whenever possible, creating less impact on the world. So when using chemical processes we can as jewellers choose between using hazardous chemicals and substances such as citrus pickles that are going to make less harm to the environment.
One of important issues for jewellers is how their waste is disposed of. As copper is a by-product of pickling silver I am careful to ensure it doesn't get into the water system, as it's highly toxic to aquatic life and must not enter. I'm careful to neutralise my pickle solution using bicarbonate of soda and then dispose of it pouring it into a pot containing cat litter and disposing of it at the recycling facilities at my local council. Ensuring that it is carefully sealed and labelled “Citric acid pickle - contaminated with copper” My pickle solution is used for months or years before it needs replacing so I’m talking about it here to raise awareness that this should be done. We all play a small part in making the world a better place.
What sort of packaging do you use?
All my packaging is made of eco-card where no more wood is cut down than the forest can produce. My jewellery boxes are made of eco-friendly FSC®-certified Cardboard and my pouches are Fairtrade Eco organic cotton pouches.
This is taken from my packaging suppliers website:
"Fairtrade® is an international labelling system and is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives."
Find out more about Eco packaging from my chosen packaging supplier Westpack
Would you choose a green Eco box or a cream Faitrade Cotton Pouch?
When you buy my jewellery you can add a comment in the checkout box saying if you'd prefer a box, a pouch or a naked product wrapped simply in acid-free tissue paper.
What about plastic?
I have made a commitment to use recycled packaging wherever possible. I don't buy any new plastic, but I do currently re-use bubble wrap I receive in other parcels, as I would rather reuse plastic than send it to landfill. I now choose to wrap my parcels in plain recycled brown boxes, with an outer layer of recycled brown paper and I'm currently using my last roll of plastic tape, then I will move to use gummed paper tape. I also use small eco Jiffy bags for smaller size parcels.
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