Breaking the Chains - Why you should be buying sustainable jewellery
Today on the blog we have sustainable jeweller Emily Smith from ECO925 telling us all about the ethical jewellery business that she and her husband set up in 2014 after working in the jewellery industry and realising something had to change. They now lead the way in sustainable and ethical jewellery manufacture and are forging a new path towards a better industry. So sit back and have a read. Sam x
17 years ago, we started working in high end luxury jewellery. How incredible it was, holding gemstones the size of your hand, a world of glamour, sophistication and utter corruption.
If you ever wish to strike fear into the heart of a high street jeweller, simply ask them questions about their supply chain. Having been in their shoes, I can tell you that most retail jewellers couldn’t tell you a thing about where that magnificent piece of jewellery came from. The ignorance brings a sense of comfort.
The truth is most jewellery supply chains could only trace two or three links of their supply chain. Which they would never reveal as they keep it a closely guarded secret from their competition. But they will each claim that their suppliers must be ethical, with no evidence to support.
Image credit: https://www.kimberleyprocess.com/
Now I do agree that some good has been done in this sector, for example the landmark Kimberley process from 2003 for example. Which traces uncut diamonds from the mine to the cutters, ensuring that the funds do not solicit violence or bad labour practices. We have all seen how handsome DiCaprio looked in blood diamond. But put a single facet on that rough gemstone and it can waltz right through, without ever needing to be traced to the source. A ‘loupe’ hole indeed.
Of course, I do give credit to the Fairtrade Gold foundation. Who do a sterling job at supporting small scale miners. Truly producing Gold with heart, for this reason we have registered as Fairtrade goldsmiths in support.
Image credit: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/buying-fairtrade/gold
But who are we to make such wild and moral accusations? We are Eco925, one of the very few completely transparent jewellery supply chains. It was once quoted by the famous jeweller Manfred Nisslmüller that disturbance is jewellery, if that is true then we are here to do just that.
My name is Emily Smith and with my husband in 2014 we left behind a world of waste, excessive packaging and needless promotional material, to forge our own company. One of un-compromising ethics, sustainability and complete transparency.
So, when you ask me “where did the sapphire in my ring come from?” I can tell you Ratnapura in Sri Lanka. Why, because we have been there and seen it for ourselves. We have a code of ethics that all of our suppliers must adhere to. Which does limit us to who we can buy from, but we knew our mission would not be an easy one.
Starting the company, we decided to specialise in Silver initially. Being the most cost-effective alloy for us to use. We decided not to use new material and instead bought in a number of pieces from a local bullion dealer, who would like us simply melt down the jewellery. If we could save any of the components, we would, the rest went into our 100% recycled smelt, which we named Eco-silver. We would then create sheet metal or roll wire from ingots we cast, to use on new jewellery pieces. This is where the name of the company was born Eco925, a play on words or rather numbers. Sterling grade silver in the UK is assayed at 925 parts per thousand. It also represented that all of our work was Eco friendly from 9 until 5, queue the Dolly Parton.
Of course, as the company grew and we had a little more revenue, we experimented with gold too. But found that recycling this alloy in such small quantities was not cost effective. But we didn’t want to give up on our ethics, so we set out looking for a solution. This was found in the form of the Fairtrade Goldsmith scheme. Which allows us to purchase new material, which is ethically scoured and completely traceable.
For me, the ethics of the supply chain is my driving force, for my husband it is sustainability. Having worked in the display creation for luxury branding, the waste of seasonally changed window displays really got to him. He set about ensuring every aspect of our presentation and packaging are completely made from recycled and sustainable materials. For example, our early pillow boxes were completely made from 100% recycled carboard. We used hemp drawstring bags for the jewellery for a number of years, due to the biodegradable nature of the product. Since then, we now use Eco-friendly cotton drawstring soft bags and recycled jewellery boxes which are certified by the FSC. We even provide the reference so our clients can check up on us C112509.
He is forever looking at new ways of recycling, making our business more eco-friendly and efficient. I believe the last change was to my jeweller’s torch, turning it to a hydrogen based one. Even our business cards are printed using ink created from disused coffee filters.
I’m sure all of the reasons given above are more than enough to convince the consciously minded, but if you need an extra push, then take a look at some of our elegant show stopping designs. It feels only right to showcase some incredible wedding jewellery:
Let us start with recycled wedding bands in silver. Available in White, Rose and Yellow gold by quotation. Each ring takes a maximum of two weeks to make. This gives our jewellers time to calculate the exact material needed, role the wire profile for the ring, bespoke it to your finger size, hallmark through the Birmingham assay office, before final polishing.
Next it seems fitting to show you our ethically sourced magnificent freshwater pearl necklace.
The perfect accompaniment to your wedding dress these genuine freshwater cultured pearls have been Graded by our qualified in-house gemmologist an assessed at the quality of A+.
We take great pride when hand selecting our pearls taking into consideration our five key grading criteria: The Lustre The Orient The Surface Quality The Colour The Shape
The grading status of A+ means the pearls are near round in shape, with a better than average Lustre and over 75% perfection to its natural surface. The dominant colour is white, with subtle pinkish hues. Each pearl has been exceptionally matched in line with our qualities and measures between 8-9mm each in size. Of which there are 52 individual pearls in total. The total length of the necklace is 17.5 inches ( 44.5cm ), thread on white silk. Fastened with a hallmarked high quality sterling silver ball clasp.
For those interested, our pearls are sustainably sourced and naturally grown on a family run Pearl farm in Donggou China.
We have also created a page devoted to ethical weddings, called our Green Wedding Guide to draw plenty of inspiration from. Naturally this includes our good friends Willow & Rust.
We invite you to come and follow us on our sustainable adventure and challenge other Jewellers to follow in our footsteps. Our mission will always be to bring transparency to the world of jewellery, even if we have to lead the way.
You can find us at:
Love & Peace