Last year, a successful crowd-funding campaign (with Pozible) enabled me to research and develop my first sustainable jewellery collection. Below is a list of all the sustainability factors that I put into practice with this new jewellery collection.
100% Recycled Metal
By using 100% recycled sterling silver and 18ct gold I have eliminated ‘the mining factor’ from this collection of jewellery. The metal has been recycled from various sources including scrap-jewellery, photographic waste, and industrial waste such as e-waste (electric power is dependant on silver contacts in switches and circuit breakers).
No soldering (i.e. the joining of metal with heat and chemicals) cuts out the need for chemicals during the making process. It also means the metal is left pure so it can be easily re-worked or re-used at ‘end of life’ without having to go through a refining process.
No emery means reduced reliance on ‘consumables’ (i.e. things that can’t be re-used). Instead I use a super-fine file which can be used over and over again. Cutting out emery from my making process also means that my Lemel (metal dust and shavings) is more pure, and therefore requires less refining when being recycled.
Instead of a chemical ‘pickle’ (cleaning bath), I use a mixture of citric acid and salt to clean my metal after it has been heated.
I use materials from old jewellery, domestic and industrial waste as embellishments on my jewellery pieces.
Zero waste philosophy
The entire area of material is taken into consideration when I’m designing pieces. For example, when I cut a circle shape out of a square, I use the remaining material for embellishments and subsequent designs, rather than recycling it (as melting or refining it requires more energy).
I have designed this collection to lend itself to being developed as the wearer’s tastes and needs evolve over time; additions such as recycled stones can be attached, embellishments can be added, holes can be drilled to add more ornamentation, paint colour can be changed and designs can be modified.
Made to last
This jewellery is meticulously hand-made using durable materials and robust designs.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Nothing lasts forever. I believe producers should take responsibility for the things they produce. That’s why I commit to buy back the metal from my jewellery once it has finished its journey with its wearer.
Working with community
I am working with The Ownership Project (a NFP working with indigenous people and new migrants to up-skill them with printing expertise), using their waste aluminium printing plates to make jewellery. Part profits of these sales go back to The Ownership Project.
Profits to charity
I donate 20% of my profits to environmental campaigns run buy GetUp! from every piece of jewellery sold featuring the ‘New Seed’ symbol.
Everything in this collection is made by hand. Eliminating the use of machinery during the making process means that the use of fossil fuels is drastically reduced.
Each piece of jewellery has been stamped with an ‘R’ for ‘recycled’ and comes with an information card directing people to read more about the jewellery’s sustainability credentials. In creating this jewellery collection and listing all the points above, it is my hope that I make it easier for other jewellers to adopt some of these practices, and for consumers to learn more about what is involved in the making of a piece of jewellery.
But I also need to add…
While being able to offer sustainable products is really important to me, I don’t see consumerism as the solution to a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re concerned about Climate change, action is the key to making a difference. Your actions don’t have to be huge (chat to a neighbour about solar power, fix an item of clothing instead of replacing it, attend a local council meeting), but ‘walking the talk’ is (as Salt-n-Pepa would say) very necessary!