Ethical Jewellery Practice – How & why?

‘Jewellery is an incredibly beautiful art form due mainly to the materials that are used to  create it being formed in nature – and there is nothing more beautiful or important than nature.

From the beginning of history, humans have adorned themselves with jewel like objects and in recent history, have used precious materials to convey love, worth and sentiment.

So why then is the sourcing of these materials so often riddled with pain, danger and destruction?

To create something of beauty, I believe that it must be crafted from materials that have a beneficial supply chain – making it beautiful for all involved and therefore sharing a journey of knowledge and empowerment.

While there are no simple solutions or black and white answers to any of the issues surrounding ethics in the jewellery industry please find below a brief explanation of the policies I implement within my business’

ANNA

ETHICAL DIAMONDS

Anna personally selects each diamond from trusted suppliers in order to ensure traceability, provenance and Kimberly Certification.

The Kimberly Process was first founded in 2000 in an attempt to stem the trafficking of so called ‘blood diamonds’ from war-torn areas of the diamond producing nations of Africa. The agreement currently has 54 members and has achieved success in highlighting the issue and bringing it into the public domain.

See inside Anna’s studio and gain an insight into the fascinating world of gem tradingvideo courtesy of National Geographic

As the Kimberly Process does not directly address the environmental or social issues surrounding the diamond trade and there is currently no independent industry certification such as Fairtrade for any gemstone, Anna does seek further reassurance by endeavouring to purchase each of her diamonds as directly from the mine of origin as possible.

To achieve this, larger stones are sourced either from the Canada and will come with a Canada Mark certificate, Ocean Diamonds off the coast of Southern Africa, or from smaller mining co-operatives in Namibia, Botswana or South Africa.

Smaller stones will come from a De Beers owned mine in one of the previously mentioned countries and whilst it isn’t always possible to guarantee the specific mine of origin for all smaller diamonds, they do still retain a conflict free guarantee, a trusted route to market, are free from child labour and other human rights violations with minimum impact on environment.

Details on individual stones will be supplied on a stone by stone basis. Details on old cut and rough / rose cut diamonds are also available on request.

Recycled and lab-grown stones are also available as options.

Coloured Gemstones

Anna sources all coloured stones from independent, reputable suppliers with whom she has established a trusted professional relationship.

She works with numerous ‘direct from source’ gemstone dealers and together they aim to supply fully traceable precious and semi-precious gems which Anna uses in her work where possible.

At the time of writing, Anna has access to traceable suppliers of precious stones such as ruby, sapphire and emerald but cannot guarantee that exact requirements can be met through these channels. She can also guarantee the origin of some but not all of the semi-precious gems she uses. This is an area of constant research.


Anna continues to search for more traceable gemstone supply chains and campaign for further transparency in this area.

Precious metals

Why Fairtrade and Fairmined?
Anna believes that using Fairtrade or Fairmined metal is preferable to using recycled metals because, whilst recycling is a better option than taking no action, it is at best a neutral action.

https://youtu.be/jRGj2_Do2CE
Video courtesy of Fairtrade Foundation

Supporting the work of the Fairtrade and Fairmined supports positive changes for artisanal miners and has a beneficial effect on the environment. Across the globe more than 100 million people are involved in precious metal mining – people whom without such certification would be left with little alternative but to continue with unsafe and environmentally polluting mining practices.

Choosing Fairtrade or Fairmined ensures that no contamination of local waterways takes place, all mines are operated in a sustainable way and the health and safety of the miners and their families is paramount.

All Fairtrade and Fairmined pieces will bear the appropriate stamp next to their hallmark.

Gold
Anna uses certified Fairtrade gold as standard in all of her stock pieces – although some speculative bespoke pieces may be created from 100% recycled metals due to the nature of workshop practice.

Silver
Anna uses certified Fairmined sterling silver as standard in all of her stock pieces however she will occasionally use 100% recycled sterling silver due to the nature of workshop practice.

Platinum and palladium
As there is currently no independent certification available for either platinum or palladium Anna uses 100% recycled metals as standard

Chains and findings
Likewise, there is currently no independent certification standard available for chain and findings however progress is being made so watch this space!

Customers’ own materials
Anna is always happy to recycle and remodel materials from customers’ own heirloom pieces, with the exception of ivory and coral. Do get in touch directly should you wish to discuss such a project.

https://youtu.be/wy6sGaBu5IA
Video courtesy of Fairtrade Foundation

Presentation boxes and stationery

Anna sources her leather packaging from a group of artisan craftspeople in Bangladesh. Each box is handmade in small workshops creating employment opportunities which enable the workers to support and educate their families.

Anna’s cardboard packaging is sourced from FSC regulated forests.

All business cards and communication / promotional stationary is comprised of either recycled material or FSC regulated material.

Recycled or biodegradable postage and packaging materials are used as standard

Anna welcomes any discussion and questions on her ethical polices and is committed to best practice both as a jeweller and as a person. As such Anna offers full disclosure on materials and sources, even when only the ‘best-case scenario’ materials are available.

Other work

Livia Firths’ Green carpet Challenge

Created in association with Vogue.com the ‘Green Carpet Challenge’ was devised by Livia Firth and journalist Lucy Siegle, with the aim of putting ethically sourced fashion and jewellery on the international film industry red carpets. Working together for the 2011 Golden Globes, Academy Awards and Cannes film festival, Anna created three exquisite suites of jewellery for Livia as she accompanied husband Colin Firth through the Hollywood awards season. With all pieces subsequently auctioned on behalf of Oxfam, Anna’s work has, to date, raised in excess of £80,000 for the charity.

Perhaps the most significant set created during this collaboration was the design based on Livia’s own engagement ring and worn as Colin Firth won his first Oscar. The pieces entitled ‘Juana’ after Juana Pene Endova – the Bolivian female miner who brought the first Fairtrade gold to England, were created using the world’s first ever Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold. This historically significant set then went on to be auctioned in aid of Oxfam raising £25,000 – making it the most expensive Fairtrade product ever created.

Anna is proud to be a member of the 1% for the Planet organisation. Businesses that join 1% for the Planet commit to giving 1% of gross sales each year to approved non-profit partners through a variety of support. To date, there are more than 3,000 members in over 45 countries coming together to protect the future of our planet.

Further details to follow

Anna is a founding member of jewellery action group Fair Luxury – an independent and voluntary group of change makers within the UK jewellery industry. Fair Luxury’s main objective is to bring together pioneering figures from both the jewellery and fashion worlds and question the ways in which they approach provenance and sustainability by examining the journey from original source to end consumer.

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