Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Embracing sustainability in jewellery

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Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. In order to build a sustainable community, we need to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can co-exist in productive harmony to support the present and future generations.

Today, we face a set of interconnected crises that threaten the sustainability of our increasingly brittle global socio-ecological system.These include climate change, decline in key nonrenewable energy resources and a loss of biological diversity.
Climate change and environmental issues are not new to us. It was in fact firmly established by the late 20th century. But it was much later that we saw a social, and economic birth of the environmental movements across industries. One of the industries that faces the criticism and heat of being environmentally harmful is the fashion industry which also encompasses the jewelry industry.

The jewelry industry is not currently sustainable. Be it fashion jewelry or fine jewelry, the traditional process of making jewelry out of metal has a negative impact on the environment as it requires burning of fuel and high energy consumption which generates a huge amount of carbon footprint in nature.The chemicals used in the process or the waste generated is also immense. Moreover, We are using up natural resources and exploiting people in ways that will deplete future generations of the resources they need, also impacting future profitability and business opportunities.

However, with the rising awareness amongst the consumers and increase in the number of rules and regulations governing the CSR practices of a business, a shift can be witnessed in the industry towards sustainability. All the major players as well as the small business are incorporating sustainable practices in some way or the other.They are supported by organizations like Ethical Metalsmiths, conferences like the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, and standards organizations like the Responsible Jewellery Council; all dedicated to providing education, resources, and support to jewelry industry producers who want to improve their social and environmental impact.

There has been a continuous effort  on improving products, processes and practices. With the awareness of environmental concerns, designers are constantly looking  for alternative materials that come from renewable resources and produce less carbon footprint in nature.The use of alternative materials and unconventional design of the jewelry is linked to changing consumer profile that concern for the environment.

Upcycling gold and gemstones is adopted as a route to sustainability. Brands like Swarovski use diamonds that are lab-grown diamonds, chemically, physically and optically identical to mined diamonds, but with a much lower environmental impact. 

A few years back, Scheufele announced a partnership with the Alliance for  Responsible Mining in Colombia and launched the Green Carpet Collection of High Jewelry, made using only sustainably sourced and traceable gold and diamonds.The search for creating more environmentally friendly jewelry has helped provide  an alternative for today’s  conscious consumers. Creating jewelry out of natural elements like fruits, flowers, seeds and spices and plating it in 24kt gold has helped us to minimize the use of metal and consciously eschew the harmful process of jewelry making.

To create a sustainable and ethical jewelry brand, we work to honor the relationship between raw material, products, and individuals. As a result, we created  an enriched product for not only the consumer, but the planet.

(The author Shristi Ghunawat is the founder of Tangerine, India’s first bio jewelry)

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