Stay Woke in 2019
Consumerism can be overwhelming, especially today. Statistically, over half of our possessions have travelled halfway across the globe before they reach our homes. We are often so far removed from the items we buy, it can feel impossible to know where and how our product are made. I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel anxious. How am I to know whether what I buy is ethically made? How do I know whether making a purchase is actually harmful to the environment? Could my purchase even be damaging the life of another individual?
Many people are unaware of the various steps designers take to make ethical jewellery. Sourcing fair trade materials, recycling, and enforcing ethical practices are just a few examples of ways jewellers make jewellery that is beautiful ‘on the inside’ as well as the outside. We live in a disposable society. Think of all the mass-produced jewellery that the high street pumps into people’s pocket. Wouldn’t you rather have a piece of jewellery with history? Knowing who designed it, how they created it, and exactly what they used. JewelStreet works closely with over 500 independent designers. They are handpicked by our team: we know about their design processes, their work practices and their brand values.
To help you stay ‘woke’ (being aware and well-informed relating to social injustices and current affairs) with jewellery, here are some tips to ensure you’re buying ethically-made jewellery.
Understand The Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Process
Do you know the various processes that contribute to the piece of jewellery you’re wearing right now? Do you know where the designer sourced their materials? Are the materials recycled? Are the artisans and miners paid a good wage? Do they operate in suitable working conditions? Are the gemstones and diamonds conflict-free? This may seem like a lot to consider when making a simple purchase, but it really isn’t that hard to find out. For example, if you look for the fairtrade stamp when buying a jewellery item, you know that your purchase supports the well-being of the workers that contribute to your item. This means they are paid fairly, they can support their family, and they can invest in the growth of their community. For anyone who has seen the film Blood Diamond, the unfortunate reality of the diamond mining industry means that steps such like these are life-changing.
Buy From Independent Designers
When you buy from independent designers, the traceability of their creations becomes easier to follow. For example, here at JewelStreet, we interview all of our designers. Understanding their work process allows us to feel confident that we are selling quality and ethical jewellery. Recently we interviewed Synnove Saelthun, the lead designer of Oria Jewellery (read the full interview here). After considering the negative social and environmental impact diamond mining and jewellery production often caused, she created a jewellery brand centred around ethical practices. Oria Jewellery uses certified Fairtrade Gold and source their gold from small hand-panning cooperative mines in Argentina. Their silver is 100% recycled and purchased from Bolivian miners. Knowing information such as this before buying a piece of jewellery ensures you are being woke with your purchase.
Do Your Research
The media is always quick to ‘out’ brands for their poor practices. Think about how the D&G scandal unfolded in December last year. After screenshots of Stefano Gabbana’s racist comments and tasteless ad campaigns were condemned by Diet Prada, the brand plummeted. People sold their shares and D&G brand health score dropped to -15, 21.5 points in just two weeks. This exemplifies the cultural feeling that demands better ethical and cultural sensitivity when it comes to the products they buy. With the thousands of media outlets available to the modern consumer, it is not difficult to stay informed. The reputations of brands can be determined by a simple google search. So next time you purchase jewellery, research the store, the designer, the marketplace. Make sure your money is going to the right person, or the right cause.
Give When You Get
Once you understand the reputation of the brands you are buying from, you can then choose to support designers that go the extra mile. Many designers, in all sectors, choose to support charities and organisations with their profits. For example, your purchase of a necklace or a ring could help animal welfare organisations or human rights charities. Saba Jewellery partners with a charity called Animals Asia who aim to improve the welfare of animals in Asia, stopping cruelty and supporting their rehabilitation. Swedish jewellery designer Lumitoro donate money to SOS Children’s Villages, a charity dedicated to helping children with limited opportunities. What better way to purchase a piece of jewellery, knowing that that single act will help someone less fortunate in the world. Read more about charity jewellery here.
When you buy at JewelStreet, you know that you are making a compassionate purchase. We understand our marker and care about every person that has a role in the jewellery design and manufacturing process. As a consumer, make sure you play your part and stay woke when buying jewellery. Champion integrity. Champion sustainability. And champion the ethical.