The Importance of Sustainability in Jewellery Industry

The Importance of Sustainability in the Jewellery Industry

When it comes to sustainability, everyone talks about the fashion industry - especially about high-fashion brands like H&M and Zara whilst there are few mentions of the jewellery industry. Today, we want to share our insights with you and how important sustainability is in the jewellery industry to save mother earth.

When we decided to build our jewellery brand ASSUWA, we were trying to better understand how producing and manufacturing jewellery affects mother earth. We saw that from the sourcing of materials to the disposal of unworn jewellery, the entire life cycle of jewellery is broken. How?

Throw-away culture has allowed brands to over-produce items and use cheaper materials whilst keeping the true cost of the speed out of sight. The true cost is on mother earth, the manufacturer, and the consumer.

The True Cost on Mother Earth

As mining causes high carbon emissions and the use of high amounts of water, it damages our natural habitats. And, unfortunately, most of the jewellery that has been produced ends up in landfills as they’re not being worn or thrown away.

The True Cost on Manufacturer

To respond to the increasing demand, more and more unethical practices of production have occurred. Moreover, with the depletion of natural resources, we saw more than 4x increases in the prices of materials.

The True Cost on Consumer

  • Low-quality materials irritate and colour the skin.
  • Quickly tarnished products need to be replaced quickly and thrown away.

Thankfully, consumers have become more conscious of the impact their purchases have on the world, and jewellery brands have begun to respond by implementing sustainable practices.

Here’s what you need to look at when you’re considering buying jewellery:

Conscious Sourcing

The first step in creating sustainable jewellery is to ensure that the materials used in production are ethically and responsibly sourced. This means that the materials are mined or extracted without harming the environment or local communities. Additionally, the use of recycled materials can help to reduce the environmental impact of mining. Keep in mind that recycled gold produces up to 99.8% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than mined gold, and recycling silver produces around 14% of the emissions that silver mining does.

Many jewellery brands are now sourcing their materials from responsible suppliers, ensuring that the mining process is fair and transparent. For example, some brands have started using ethically sourced diamonds that are certified by organizations such as the Responsible Jewellery Council. You can easily check how they source gemstones on their homepage, and if they’re not transparent about their sourcing practices, then you might want to reconsider buying your jewellery from that brand.

For instance, we carefully handpick each gemstone which is conflict-free to reflect the spirit of nature and our designs.

When we were doing our research on conflict-free gemstones, we also saw the option of lab-grown gemstones. Lab-grown gemstones are unmined and synthetically made in a laboratory. Lab-grown gemstones take approximately 6 to 10 weeks to develop in a laboratory whilst most of the gemstones in nature were formed between 1 billion to 3.3 billion years ago. This lab-grown initiative might sound unnatural but in fact, it doesn’t harm the environment and local communities. That’s why big jewellery brands like Pandora started to use lab-grown gemstones in their designs as they are both cheaper and less harmful.

The Right Choice of Materials

Most of the jewellery brands use base metals such as brass, aluminium, or copper - even the “sustainable” jewellery brands. These metals are inexpensive compared to silver and gold, therefore, most of the jewellery brands choose these metals as they’re cheaper for production. However, these inexpensive metals become tarnished easily and can even cause irritation or allergic reactions.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t be buying brass or bronze jewellery. If they’ve used high-quality micron plating, then it means that they have a higher lifetime value. So make sure they’re using high-quality micron plating if it’s a brass or bronze base metal.

Designed to last a lifetime, we use 925 sterling silver with high-quality protective micron plating to ensure its beautiful colour does not fade.

Eco-Friendly Production

Once the materials have been sourced, the production process must also be sustainable. This includes reducing waste, using energy-efficient equipment, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals. Some jewellery brands have started using renewable energy sources such as solar power to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, some have implemented closed-loop production systems, where waste materials are recycled and reused in the production process.

Our experience was a quite bit different than big brands. As we are artists inspired by nature, history and art, we are drawn into geographies where various ancient civilisations have emerged and fallen leaving their cultural traces. We create each design by our hands, and then produce with artisans that we met in Istanbul who have been in the jewellery-making industry for generations.

We drink tea and Turkish coffee with our artisans and walk around the beautiful artefacts during our lunch breaks. We are not going to lie, sometimes, we eat too much kebab during our lunch breaks, and when we are back in London, we realise that we gain lots of weight…But still no guilt. We wish you can join us one day and see us creating our jewellery, drinking our Turkish coffee and enjoying the dazzling Turkish cuisine.

Eco-Friendly Packaging and Shipping

Packaging and shipping can also have a significant impact on the environment. Jewellery brands are now using eco-friendly packaging materials such as recycled paper and biodegradable plastics. Additionally, many are reducing their carbon footprint by using more efficient shipping methods and offsetting their emissions through carbon offset programs. You can check if their packaging products are labelled eco-friendly and FSC®-certified.

The FSC® mark guarantees that all materials come from an FSC® forest, where no more wood is cut down than the forest can reproduce.

In Conclusion

Sustainability is crucial for the jewellery industry to reduce its environmental impact. Sustainable sourcing, eco-friendly and ethical production, responsible packaging and shipping are all essential components of sustainable jewellery. By adopting these practices, the industry can benefit both the environment and consumers.

By purchasing sustainable jewellery, you can support ethical and responsible practices in this industry. For unworn and unwanted jewellery, we also started our jewellery recycling programme ASSUWA Recycle.

We encourage everyone to practise conscious consumerism, don’t let our Garden of Eden be lost. By working together, we can create a more sustainable future for all.

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