Conscious consumerism is on the rise - these days it’s common to demand transparency when it comes to sustainability and supply chains for all manner of purchases. This is particularly true of buying jewellery, with issues regarding environmental impact and ethics in the industry being highly publicised. Even so, forgetting about these considerations can be an easy trap to fall into when we’re swept up by a beautiful design.
What is sustainable and ethical jewellery?
Sustainable and ethical jewellery is made from materials that are sourced responsibly. It is conflict-free and the creation of it causes minimal harm to the environment and to the people mining the materials. Working conditions to source the materials and create the jewellery are safe and fair, and the industry contributes to the economic development of the regions from which the materials come.
To ensure you are buying sustainable and ethical jewellery, research is essential, and investing in high quality pieces is highly recommended.
Do your research
There is constant work being done in the jewellery industry to improve regulatory systems ensuring transparency of supply chains. There has been significant progress when it comes to reducing the impact on local environments and improving working conditions in producer countries. Thanks to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the chance of purchasing a conflict diamond is dramatically reduced - conflict diamonds now constitute less than 0.2% of the world's production, according to estimates from the Kimberley Process and the United Nations. If you are wanting absolute assurance that your diamond is conflict free you can purchase a lab grown diamond. Orsini is able to source lab grown diamonds.
Traceability with coloured gemstones is more complex due to the fragmented nature of the supply chain, with the extraction of the gems involving around 60 countries. In most of these countries, the sourcing of coloured gemstones is still largely dominated by informal small-scale mining.
Therefore, it’s crucial to ask questions of retailers to make sure they’re selling you pieces made from ethically and sustainably sourced materials. Look into the reputation of the jeweller you plan to buy from, research their background and check what certification standards they adhere to. Although the Kimberley Process does not certify individual jewellers, reputable businesses will only buy from suppliers that provide diamonds that are conflict-free. A jeweller who values ethical production practices will work with companies and suppliers that also have these philosophies.
Orsini uses diamonds from the most reputable grading labs, such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Many of our brands are members of the Responsible Jewellery Council, a global standards body for responsible jewellery throughout the entire supply chain. As for gemstones, our director Sarah Hutchings has completed her GIA training in coloured stones and sources them from trusted local or overseas gemstone suppliers, however, with coloured gemstones it is more difficult to have this assurance. One of my gemstone suppliers Hamid Bros. has further information on ethical gems, which you can read here. There’s always the option of buying lab-grown jewels if you want an absolute guarantee your gems will be conflict free. At Orsini, we have beautiful pieces by Pomellato which are made from synthetic rubies and sapphires.
Pomellato’s credibility and reputation are based on sustainability. Orsini is delighted to have a brand that is so committed to ethical values, manufacturing excellence and the importance of caring for the planet.
Buy well and buy once
Buying jewellery sustainably doesn’t just mean doing your research on its social and environmental impact. It also means taking care to buy quality pieces that will last, leaving less items in landfill.
There’s no shortage of costume jewellery on the market. The appeal of these items is that they’re affordable and readily available. But often they are plated with cheap materials which quickly wear down, meaning they usually can only be worn for a year or two and then are discarded as they cannot be easily replaced.
If you throw your pieces away, the metal and fake gemstones won’t biodegrade. Whereas high quality items can be passed down through generations, or can be dismantled for the materials to be reused in new pieces. Investing in jewellery not only reduces your waste, but ultimately it’s going to be kinder to your wallet if you are buying new costume jewellery every couple of years rather than buying items that last a lifetime.
All of the brands carried at Orsini are designed to last if they are looked after properly. Even the two brands we carry that use silver - DoDo and Gucci, adhere to very strict codes of compliance which ensure they last very well. They are both members of the Responsible Jewellery Council.
What else can we do to help the planet?
We need to ask this question on a daily basis as it’s obvious that the climate crisis is a very dire phenomenon. We are fortunate that our shipments have a very small carbon footprint, as when we have a large shipment arrive it can all fit in one small parcel. Our suppliers are very conscious of the planet and the majority use recyclable materials. We all need to challenge ourselves to do the best we can to improve our sustainability. Sarah has spent lockdown growing her own garden and even bought a worm farm.
At Orsini we truly believe in respecting our environment to ensure a future that can be treasured for generations to come. We also love that the items of jewellery purchased at Orsini can also be enjoyed by future generations.