Is your piece really that ethical?
You will see labels declared in any media such as ‘environmentally conscious’, ‘locally sourced’ and ‘ethical’ but they are all very blurry categorisations and anyone can use these labels in their advertising material without consequence.
If at any point you decide to question whether your desired piece of jewellery is an ‘ethical’ or ‘environmental’ or ‘fair’ choice to purchase there are a few things you need to know.
Any piece of jewellery you buy and especially the tools used to make them will contain parts that come from all over the world within many different types of work environments. Shopping ‘local’ when it comes to jewellery is an over-reaching generalisation as there is always something not local about it. For example, instead of petroleum, I use coconut oil as a drill bur lubricant that comes from an Aussie business which sources from fair trade international coconuts. This way I don’t end up with pockets of petroleum in my liver surrounded by necrotic tissue. Sadly sometimes I have to weigh up the ‘environmental’, ‘locally sourced’ and ‘ethical’ elements against each other as there isn’t always a perfect love triangle between them. ‘Human Well Being’, ‘Environment’ and ‘Local’ is the order in which I approach most supplies and processes.
Most metals are already regularly recycled and that’s nothing new in the jewellery industry, therefore, how the recycling is conducted is the next big thing. Luckily here in Australia there are a few great suppliers in the context of recycling. Many of our tools are made of recycled steel or can be repurposed here in the studio but not all of them and they go to the local metal recycler.
You will find after some research declaring a diamond ‘conflict free’ really just means that the diamonds haven’t been mined in a war zone and therefore unlikely to have been used to fund military actions. It states nothing about the many other types of violence that exist, other human rights abuses, fair wages, safe work practises and environmental impacts of diamond mining.
I don’t blindly trust written or verbal guarantees from any suppliers and pass off the responsibility.