The production of ethical handmade jewellery is an important move towards a more sustainable future for the planet. But what is it about ethical jewellery that makes it…ethical?
With consumerism taking an increasingly ethical stance on travel, food and clothing, it’s no surprise that the jewellery industry is now making much needed changes too. Accessory lovers are still investing in the latest jewellery trends but they are now becoming aware of the environmental impact of precious metal mining, diamond mining and the working conditions of jewellery artisans in economically poor countries.
Cue the birth of ethical jewellery, something close to the heart of Aquila Jewellery.
What is ethical jewellery?
If the environment that the jewellery is produced in and the artisans who have made the jewellery have not suffered or been negatively impacted by the process, then the jewellery is considered ethical, according to MarieClaire.
What are the fundamentals of ethical jewellery?
- Materials are recycled where possible, such as recycled metal jewellery.
- Working hours, working conditions and wages are agreeable.
- No child labour.
- Synthetic diamonds are favoured over natural diamonds.
- Materials that are able to be traced back to the source and are ethically sourced.
- Materials ideally come from sustainable resources.
- Manufacturing processes are eco-friendly and transparent.
What is handmade jewellery?
Made by hand, with each jewellery piece being designed piece by piece, handmade jewellery is created by jewellery artisans who use select tools for the processes. The materials they work with are raw metal. They apply age-old cultural and regional methods and do not use moulds or parts that are premade.
Handmade jewellery is a much slower process than factory made alternatives due to the care and attention taken. An example of this is our Agonda collection, hand hammered in Indonesia. To find out more about the uniqueness of handmade jewellery, read here.
Why is ethical handmade jewellery important?
The process of ethical handmade jewellery making is very much an ‘open book’ which reveals what is done, how it is done and where all parts come from (and go to). It is important because if each of the processes involved are visible, they are accountable and with accountability comes responsibility.
What are the benefits of ethical jewellery?
- Jewellery artisans are empowered with rights over their working conditions and pay that they may not have otherwise.
- The environment and the eco systems involved in the jewellery making processes are protected.
- Less carbon emissions and gases are released when recycled metal jewellery is produced.
- Materials from sustainable resources means such resources will not become dangerously depleted.
- The labour, mines and procedures in the extraction of the raw materials are monitored, safe and follow best practises.
- The supply chain is traceable.
What power does the buyer have when buying ethical jewellery?
When a customer buys ethical handmade jewellery, they are using their buying power to invoke positive change in a sometimes unregulated and often dangerous industry. The buyer can also ask the jewellery seller about the origins of the materials and resources and enquire about their ethical policies.
What are ethical jewellery certifications?
An example of a certification that verifies the status of ethical jewellery is Fairtade gold (they also have a certification for silver). It is an independent ethical certification for gold where the buyer supports small-scale miners as well as protecting the environment.
Crucially, the gold is sourced from certified mine sites which adhere to the necessary standards.
Another assurance label is Fairmined. Fairmined certifies gold from small-scale mining organisations and artisans who align with the best practice standards.
How is Aquila an ethical Jewellery brand?
Here at Aquila we stand by our silver pledge, to only use recycled sterling silver for our silver pieces. The result of this is the saving of a huge amount of energy, electricity and carbon emissions that occur during the mining processes as smelting and new metal ore extraction doesn’t occur.
Responsibly Sourced Gold
We are pleased to say that our solid gold rings are made from regulated Swiss gold that is responsibly sourced and provided to our Goldsmith in India by the Indian Government.
We recycle surplus, samples, end of lines and faulty items meaning there is a reduction of waste too.
Working conditions and pay for our artisans
We know our artisans by name. We have met them in person, we have seen where they work and the conditions in which they work. We know the pay they receive (we pay them!). We know that all of these components are legal and pass quality assurances.
It is very important to us that our artisans feel valued and appreciated. We have a great relationship with our Indian and Indonesian artisan teams and speak with them regularly. They are part of the Aquila Family and without them we wouldn’t exist!
All in all…
Ethical handmade jewellery is redefining the jewellery industry in increasingly positive ways. Transparency between brands and consumers is key in maintaining this important honesty that looks after human and non human lives. We at Aquila are proud to be amongst those brands.
Are you passionate about ethical handmade jewellery? Let us know in the comments below.