In honour of Fashion Revolution Week we thought we would revisit the question, "Can Jewelry Be Sustainable?"
Many would like the answer to be a simple "Yes" (and it certainly can be) but it is a complicated issue within the jewelry industry globally, as our materials are sourced globally and part of our commitment to being transparent at Edge Only is to be honest about that.
We have used 100% recycled gold and Eco Silver sheet in our designs for years and are delighted to say that we now use 100% recycled silver and gold as our bullion supplier transitioned to fully recycled in all that they supply, earlier this year. It's brilliant news for us, for you and for the environment.
WHY SUSTAINABILITY IN JEWELRY IS COMPLICATED
The way some fine jewelry is made can in many ways be harmful to humans and the environment. This is mainly due to mining practises and the location of certain gemstones, the lack of transparency in the supply chain, and how the jewelry is produced.
Mining is not good for the environment. Let’s not greenwash it. Pulling finite materials from the earth will never be environmentally friendly. Mining is often a hazardous occupation for the men and women that work in them and can be disastrous for the ecosystem that surrounds them. Precious metal mining is however a reality of our consumer world, from electronic microchips to car super conductor chips and it employs millions of people worldwide including 13 million small scale minors according to the ILO.
You can read our blog to learn more about ethics around gold mining and why we have chosen to use 100% recycled metals in our designs. We also offer a choice of natural stones or lab grown, to allow for personal preference.
Fine jewelry materials, like gold, silver, diamonds, and gemstones, are mined worldwide and travel through numerous businesses and countries before making their way to the final customer. The complete and verifiable traceability of materials from the mine to a jewelry studio is next to impossible in most circumstances, especially for small independent businesses.
Part of the jewelry industry’s traditional operating method has been heavily based on “trust.” However, as the industry has grown, supply chains have become more complex, and trust alone has proven insufficient for preventing human and environmental abuses.
Without transparency, it’s difficult to fully understand the industry’s risks, where they occur, and how to address them. Therefore, a key element in improving the jewelry industry standards is transparency in the supply chain.
Both in small studios and in big factories, jewelers often use chemicals to craft and finish the pieces. When jewelry is produced in developing countries, the working conditions are often hazardous - with no safety gear or ventilation and with no proper waste management for toxic substances in place. Workers are also often not appropriately compensated for their work.
In a sustainable jewelry business, everyone should be paid fairly and have safe working conditions - it has to work for everyone for it to be sustainable.
Sustainable jewelry means transparent and ethical sourcing practices in the jewelry supply chain and the use of sustainable materials like recycled metals.
Sustainable jewelry has a minimal impact on the environment and gives back to workers through fair wages and safe working environments.
At Edge Only sustainability has always been at the heart of the company and it will continue to be a major focus for us. A big part of sustainability in our eyes, is working locally. Circular economy. We work with Irish goldsmiths and the Irish jewellery trade. Our chains are manufactured for us in Europe using 100% recycled silver and gold, under strict environmental protocols. You can learn more about what we do on our Ethics page.
We will continue to find and implement more sustainable solutions in every area of our business, from production and packaging to shipping as they develop.