The Low Down On Green Living
April 3rd, 2008
The human act of adornment can be traced back 75,000 years to pre-historic Africa and to every known age since that time. Cavemen made simple jewelry with leather, twine, teeth, pebbles and shells. Small charms have been used throughout history as spiritual amulets, gifts of worship and friendship, symbols of rank, wealth and social standing. The human fascination with objects of adornment remains constant and shows no sign of slowing down. Engagement rings have reached blinding proportions along with the ever thriving jewelry industry. A 2006 report found annual jewelry sales in the US alone at $44 billion dollars.
The major down side to jewelry is that mining for prescious metals and stones is not often humane or environmentally sustainable. Even the costume jewelry trade has stepped into the un-sustainable circle, offering-up unhealthy lead toxins with your cheap accessory store fix. Vintage jewelry can alleviate some guilt, as can having your own unworn prescious pieces re-purposed into something that better suits your current taste. I am happy to see more jewelers offering ethically certified trinkets.
Ecofabulous is a great resource for finding the chicest ethical jewelry around. They recently highlighted work by Dawes Designs that exclusively uses recycled gold and conflict-free stones. Their “Hewn” collection has that ancient greek aesthetic that’s right up my alley.
Another great Ecofabulous find is Kirsten Muenster. She creates jewelry made with 100% recycled metals and other interesting materials whose cultivation does not fund corrupt organizations or promote unfair labor practices. Until there is a more reliable process for determining a stone’s provenance, Muenster does not make jewelry with diamonds, tanzanite or other questionable gemstones.
Of course, we also love Etsy as a resource for sustainable jewelry made with repurposed materials. 2ReVert makes great casual bangles out of old skateboards. They are cut, sanded and sealed with a non-toxic clear gloss. I love these as a gift for a young skate betty or gallerina.
One of our longtime Etsy favorites, Bottled Up Designs, makes jewelry from antique glass bottles found in natural wooded habitats and rural farmlands. Check out these aqua glass hoop earrings made with glass from a World War II era Coca Cola bottle.
If diamonds are your best friend, Brilliant Earth offers certified conflict-free Canadian diamonds loose or set in rings made with renewed gold and platinum. They are the go-to jeweler for traditional, yet ethical engagement and wedding rings.
These are just a small sample of a growing number of environmentally and socially conscious jewelers catering to conscientious consumers with a wide array of style preferences. So the next time you are searching from something pretty, don’t settle for the unethical.
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