The 4 Things that make Jewelry Sustainable
What object is more personal, special and unique than a piece of jewelry? Crafted in many different materials and infinite designs, jewelry tells a lot of things about us: about our style, about a special moment we experienced in life, even about our choices.
Like a piece of art we carry with us, it’s natural we tend to choose it according to our personal taste and style: the way we dress has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves and how we’d like to be perceived by others. We might even choose it as a means of expressing something to someone special, when given as a present.
But there's much more to it. Because even if we don’t realize it, picking a specific piece of jewelry among many other options, also implies making a statement about what we believe in, which values we support, and which kind of world we want to live in.
The world is changing direction towards more sustainable perspectives, and luckily more and more people are starting to demand products produced under these values.
We can all agree that fashion should be more ethical and sustainable, but how can we translate an abstract idea into concrete individual actions that contribute to make a positive environmental and social impact?
Simply by observing, analyzing and asking the right questions when acquiring something.
So let’s see some of the aspects to take into account in order to support makers that are aligned to a sustainable cause.
- Sustainable Design:
Taking into account the social and environmental impact that a jewel entails is an action that must be incorporated from the very beginning, meaning, from the design process. Why? In order to optimize resources and solve possible conflicts with other aspects. Know who is the designer behind the brand, what values he or she supports and if they are aligned with yours.
- Raw Materials:
The raw materials used in jewelry are the most critical part of a sustainable item. Maintaining a transparent supply chain requires traceability, which is one of the toughest challenges the jewelry industry is facing in its effort to become more sustainable.
When buying a piece made of gold for example, we need to make sure that it has been extracted in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment and ensures fair and safe labor conditions.
There are also new materials trying to solve the traceability issue, like lab grown diamonds, which can be grown under controlled lab conditions with no need for mining. This allows to know the exact source of each gemstone, achieving identical visual, physical and chemical properties to those of natural mined diamonds.
Jewelry made out of recycled silver, gold or any other material is a great alternative as well, since there is no need to extract new resources. Materials that already exist can be reused and become beautiful new items, being returned to the cycle of use rather than being discarded.
Jewelry not only tells something about us, it also tells the story of those who extracted or produced the materials our accessories were made of, and of those who crafted the items as well.
It’s important to think about the environmental and social impact during the production of our pieces and the way they came to life: Who made them and under which conditions? Which resources were used in their production and how?
The ethical aspect is as key as the environmental aspect, since we are talking about the lives of local communities and artisans. After all, it’s their hands and dedication that make our piece so unique.
- Giving Back
The commitment to social actions is also something to look for in any jewelry label. Today, more and more brands are joining the “give back” effort to raise awareness on various causes.
For individuals, buying products that support sustainability or “fair trade” principles is a great way to integrate these causes into their daily life. After all, it’s exciting to be a part of something bigger that’s making a real, significant difference in the lives of thousands.
Perfection is the enemy of good, and it’s too early to expect a product or brand to comply 100% with all the aspects mentioned before. But we can surely start by asking the right questions as to be able to support those that make the effort, not only to offer us a beautiful item, but also one that’s thoughtfully designed and produced to make a positive impact in the world.