Conscientious Jewelers Tell Their Stories

Jewelers participating in the Jeweler Directory share their news.

In ever increasing numbers jewelers are changing an industry in a variety of different ways, from the inside out. Ethical Metalsmiths is honored to offer a new platform, the Jeweler Directory, for jewelers who are part of this change. Participating jewelers are exploring what it means to be an ethical jeweler. Some are especially strict about gemstone sourcing, others are interested in challenging conventional jewelry expectations, others stay informed about critical issues and evolve their practices to meet the desires of equally well-educated consumers, while others use their businesses as an educational platform.

Ethical Metalsmiths recently asked jewelers participating in the Jeweler Directory to describe in their own words, their work and practice, how their practice is evolving as well as customer interest in ethical jewelry. Featured in this brief article are jewelers Alexandra Hart, Todd Pownell (TAP studios), Gabriel Craig, Andrea Bonelli and Utopian Creations (Ben Manning - Australia).

Alexandra Hart, San Diego, CA

ring

Hart ecently created a new ring for her Fair Trade collection, which includes a fair trade from mine to market 2.95 carat trillion amethyst (from Columbia Gem House) set in 100% recycled and refined 18k gold.

“I often receive special attention for my jewelry and business ethics from newly engaged web savvy couples specifically inquiring about commissioning rings that are transparently sourced and ethically made."

According to Alexandra, couples are most often concerned about the diamonds or gemstones, but sometimes a few are also concerned about gold mining practices.Here’s how she answered the question, Have you made any changes (big or small) to improve your practice since signing up for the directory?

"It has validated for me, details such as not using paper towels (except when absolutely necessary) and pouring my own ingots from clean scrap are substantial choices, and I consider these conservation practices as "policy."

Todd Pownell (TAP Studios), Cleveland, OH

Todd recently received an email from a potential wedding ring client who especially likes his jewelry, but added value for Todd is the fact that the couple appreciates his association with Ethical Metalsmiths. Here's what Todd shared with EM.

Hello Todd,
My partner and I really like your work and we're happy that you're part of Ethical Metalsmiths.  We checked out a few of your rings down at Facere in Seattle and loved the general concept.
Warmly,

Beth

Todd highlights TAP studios' participation in the Jeweler Directory on his website.

screen capture, TAP studios website

Gabriel Craig, Ferndale, MI

Craig takes a non-traditional approach to reconciling his desire to continue making jewelry despite his ongoing concerns about material sourcing for jewelery.

Brooch from filing cabinet

"My latest body of work involves dissecting a disused filing cabinet that was reclaimed from a Detroit building. Using the enameled painted steel as raw material, I inscribe ornament onto the sheet to make upcycled jewelry ranging from earrings to brooches. From December 3rd + 4th, 2011 at the 6th annual Renegade Craft Fair holiday market at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse in Chicago, IL I’ll be showing this new work."

Andrea Bonelli, San Ramon, CA

ring by Andrea Bonelli

Andrea Bonelli is working toward "eco-friendly" and ethical practices throughout her jewelry and studio work. She also has been advocating for the use of Moissanite - a man-made stone.

Andrea had this to share about her business, "My customer base is largely comprised of people that want eco friendly jewelry. I track interest in my jewelry and practices through goolge alerts and have seen my jewelry included in articles and blogs specifically tracking green and ethical jewelry. My favorite surprise came from The Center Of American Progress in their "It's Easy Being Green" article on September 14th."

Andrea also regularly donates to a variety of organizations and causes. This December 5% of her sales will be donated to Children's Hospital of Oakland, CA.

"My path of being eco friendly is also constantly in motion. Since being included in the Jeweler Directory, I feel even more of a sense of pride in upholding my practices keeping everything eco and green. My dedication also encourages my peers to want to uphold ethical practices as well."

Utopian Creations (Ben Manning), Adelaide, Australia

Ben Manning ring

Utopian Creations has launched a new website that clearly links the company's jewelry to the source of the materials used. It offers customers a variety of (in Utopian Creations terms) "eco-friendly" options.

Here's how Ben describes Utopian Creations, "We use a variety of stones ranging from vintage diamonds, ethically mined diamonds, Australian mined sapphires and fairtrade coloured gems. We have done our research so that you can enjoy your ring, comfortable in the knowledge that its creation caused no harm to people, animals or the earth."

In addition to sourcing responsibly Utopian Creations is also looking at studio practices for an all encompasing approach to responsibility. "We continue to strive for cleaner, less energy intensive jewellery manufacturing techniques, packaging and retail display which in combination with careful purchasing of our materials enables us to produce jewellery that is recycled and recyclable while creating little waste. Currently we are working on developing manufacturing techniques that draw power directly from the suns rays. A combination of Fresnel lens and metal clay, cured via a purpose built kiln."

Does the jewelry and practices of these jewelers resonate with you?

The Jeweler Directory was created to introduce consumers to the growing number of jewelers who are informed and committed to social and environmental responsibility. Jewelers in the Directory support ethical mining, demand supply chain accountability and operate their studios with “green” practices. They endeavor to source their materials in the most responsible manner, are transparent in their practices and include a Values, Principles and Practices Statement on their websites.  Check out what participation in the Jeweler Directory entails and add your name to the list. 

"Its amazing to see the sustainable jewellery industry banding together and marching forward. If we all work together and continue to educate the public we will be employed in an industry that leads to a cleaner future for our children and planet."    - Ben Manning, Utopian Creations