While ethical fashion and living is commanding attention in the form of column inches, social media and TV, we look to the lesser known world of ethical jewellery, and how buying from the right brands can have a positive impact throughout the supply chain from packaging and gold miners to the welfare of the planet.
Who made my Jewellery?
How many of you know where your jewellery comes from? My name is Francesca and I am the founder of Anuka. At Anuka, we believe that this is the first thing we should be asking ourselves before we make any investments in new jewellery.
If we take the process right back to the beginning, almost every piece of jewellery starts with a precious metal - which is mined directly from the earth. Mining is one of the most destructive industries in the world, with huge social and environmental consequences. Yet the origins of some of our most sentimental jewellery is not widely spoken about. Typically, mines more often than not are in developing regions of the world, this in a lot of cases leads to low unfair pay, unsafe working conditions, child labour and unforgiving harm to the environment.
Chemicals such as cyanide and mercury are regularly used within the mining process, which has huge detrimental effects to the environment. The most worrying of which is the contamination to local water supplies for neighbouring villagers where the miners often reside, and for one reason or another, it's just not widely broadcast.
What are ethical jewellers doing differently?
Overcoming these issues starts with responsible sourcing throughout the supply chain. All ethical jewellers will source their precious metal through organisations like Fairmined & Fairtrade who act as an assurance label, providing complete traceability to the source along with creating a positive impact; not only to the environment but the communities and miners lives.
Anuka is all Fairmined from responsible mining communities.
They assure quality of life, abolishment of child miners, gender equality and healthier working conditions. In larger scale mines it has been known that miners aren’t even provided with basic safety equipment such as hard hats and the conditions in which they work are polluted with exposure to cyanide and mercury of extremely high levels.
Ethical jewellers are also being open and honest in a traditionally closed industry. Transparency is so important at every level, ANUKA is proud to be the first jewellery label to incorporate block chain technology by Provenance. This allows for you to see the whole production process which is verified by each organisation and company we work with. This makes finding the answer to the question, ‘Who made my jewellery?’ easy; with evidence to support the claims, empowering the customer with all the knowledge they need to make a conscious decision.
What people can do about it, practically?
Firstly, just being aware and conscious of the issues will lead you to more thoughtful purchases. Never be afraid to ask brands ‘who made my jewellery’ or ‘how were the materials sourced’. The information should be there for you to see, if it’s not- question it.
Reuse and recycle! This is a great way to rediscover pieces you treasure, or those you have just fallen out of love with. Consider having them redesigned and up-cycled into something new and bespoke. There are many independent jewellers with beautiful designs who can re-model pieces that have been hiding in your jewellery box for years, this is something we love to do and take pleasure in documenting the journey- so you never forget the original piece. Precious metal will never lose its quality no matter how many times its melted down and re-worked, and this can keep the sentimentality of the original piece whilst making minimal impact on the environment.