Tag Archives: christmas

Sustainably Made Jewelry: A How To, Just In Time For Holiday Jewelry Shopping

Stackable Rings by http://www.dawes-design.com

 

Chrysoprase ring by http://www.dawes-design.com

I’ve been asked a couple of times this season about sustainable jewelry; how to buy it, where to buy it; how to know what you’re buying. As a jewelry designer and metalsmith, (my moonlighting gigs are many and random) I have a soft spot in my heart for independent jewelry designers and manufacturers, so that’s what you’ll see here. Then again, I have yet to discover a major-chain jeweler who’s going sustainable.

First and foremost in the advice I give all of my clients: Think out of the De Beers’s diamond box! Most people don’t know this, but diamonds as engagement rings, or symbols of status, are something solely created by Ernest Oppenheimer, who controlled De Beers in the 1930s. He and his son, Harry, created the “Diamonds are Forever” campaign and advertised everywhere from high schools to Hollywood. Prior to this, engagement rings were made from small, precious stones other than diamonds, especially rubies, emeralds and sapphires. For more information, read The Times (London) Why Diamonds Don’t Cut It Anymore and Marketing Campaign Case Studies on one of the most successful pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes marketing campaigns. Or try Janine Roberts’ Glitter & Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond Cartel and learn how DeBeers buys up mines and hides them to drive prices up (diamonds are neither rare, nor dear) to control the market.

But enough about not buying diamonds because De Beers is a great marketer. Diamonds are pretty, but there are so many gorgeous stones out there:

Garnets in green, orange, red and sherry-brown.

Aquamarine from pale/nearly clear to deep sky blue.

Citrine in rich golds and yellows.

Topaz from multi-colored to champagne, to oceany grean-blue to crystal clear blue to pink.

Touramaline in pinks, browns, greens, and golds.

Now that you’re drooling over the choices, where should you buy them and then where should you get your ring made?

There are two types of stones, naturally

Sapphire in pinks, star, yellow blue and really blue.

occurring (these are mined from the ground and often dyed or heat-treated to enhance or sustain color – so how natural are they exactly and what impact does their extraction have on the earth, the miners and the environment?) and lab-grown. Don’t let anyone fool you, ANY mining is bad for the environment, but for years, lab-grown have had a bad reputation as being of lesser quality, but they are the same exact chemical makeup as the kind in the ground and are gaining popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to mining.

So you have your stone or stones. Maybe you bought them while traveling, maybe you bought a ring in a jewelry store, but want to reset it, maybe you have a family heirloom stone; however you came by it, now you need to set it.

There are myriad options in design, but a good designer can create just the look you want, no matter what their general style is, so don’t discount them just because you don’t see exactly what you want in their current collection, display or online catalog. Here are my picks: Designers made this list because of their commitment to the sustainable manufacture of their jewelry: The two major components of which are using reclaimed or recycled metals and using either fare-trade or lab-grown stones; or even better – stones from other pieces of jewelry.

1. Alkemie – 100 percent recycled materials – If anyone wants to buy me a present, buy me Alkemie jewelry. Located in Los Angeles
2. Brilliant Earth – Canadian-sourced ethical diamonds, recycled metals, located in San Francisco
3. C5 Company – environmentally responsible in all company aspects, recycled metals, ethical stones, located in Oakland
4. Dawes Design – recylced metal, conflict-free stones, located in Northern California
5. Green Karat – recycled metals, lab-created diamonds, located in Houston
6. Kyler by Joy O – recycled metals and company-wide sustainability practices, located in San Francisco
7. Kris Nations – recycled metals, located in San Francisco
8. Kirsten Muenster Jewelry – recycled metals, reclaimed and family-owned and mined-stones, located in San Francisco
9. McFarland Designs – recycled metal, fair trade stones, located in Humboldt County
10. Okomido – all jewelry uses only reclaimed materials, located in Northern California

Just in case you’re wondering, my ring is platinum (probably recycled, but I don’t actually know) and aquamarine. I had it made at a small jeweler in Saratoga and many jewelers re-use materials to cut down on cost. I bought the stone already set in what I thought was a hideous gold wavy-ribbony design that totally hid the gorgeous stone beneath. If I can find a photo of it, I promise to post.

-Jocelyn Broyles

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Mechanized Insects, Please Buy Me Something Green and Rent A Living Tree

Grasshopper by Mike Libby

Plaid pants aside, I really have found the perfect gift for the man who has everything. Because he most certainly has never had, doesn’t currently have and should definitely have one of the amazing creations by Mike Libby. In Libby, I have found yet another genre-bending artist who takes design, creativity and reuse to an entirely new level. Libby takes real (not live) insects and crustaceans, intact, and mechanizes them. Yep. Puts moving parts in and about and on them to make them, well, really cool. Read an article on his work from 1800recycling.com, where I learned about Libby, or check out Insect Lab and his entire collection and read more about his extensive body of work. I think he and Edouard Martinet should have a show together. In my living room.

Speaking of my living room, there is a sweet little *plastic Christmas tree in its corner, thanks to the generous offer of my neighbor. But I know some of you don’t have tree-giving neighbors and haven’t yet done the one thing everyone expects you to do: (besides go to college, get married and have kids) Put a Christmas tree in your living room. Here’s a new find, a place out of San Jose, where you can rent a living Christmas tree, and if you are so inclined, they’ll tag your tree and you can get the same one year after year. How cool is that?

Now, you’ll need presents to put under that tree. Treehugger, inhabitat, 1800recycling, The Daily Green, and uncommon goods all have fabulous green gift lists, so check them out. Jessica Bates of 1800recycling.com gives us a few tips on eco-friendly gift wrap and Green Halloween made a video on wrapping with fabric, that quite frankly, makes me think twice about ever using tape and scissors again – and I like tape and scissors.

For a gift that needs no wrapping, give a tree dedication from treepeople.org: “A Tree Dedication gift starts at $25 for one tree and the recipient will receive a personalized greeting card. Multiple trees can be dedicated, or for a gift of $100 a special certificate announcing a grove of trees will be sent to the recipient.” I want a grove of trees in my name!

For gifts that give back: often times a buy one and one will be donated scenario. How can you not?

For gifts that don’t require wrapping or the giving of stuff. This is a Jocelyn favorite.

For the kiddies: Green gifts for children from Treehouse gifts in Berkeley.

*Remember how I said that living trees and even cut-down trees are better than plastic? Well, they are, but anything second-hand trumps anything new.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Home For The Holidays: California-Made Vodka, Gin, Rum and Whiskey To Help Make It Go Down Smoothly

 

So you’re home for the holidays and you’re trying to go green (and stay sane) during all the hoopla. In an effort to help you along with both of those goals at the same time, I have compiled a list of California-made vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. So next time you need to take someone a hostess gift or find yourself wondering what to order in a bar (or what to put in your flask for the trip to aunt Caroline’s), go green and ask for one of these locally-made spirits:

VODKA:
1. Roth California Vodka, by Roth Distilleries
2. Hangar One, by St. George Spirits
3. Charbay by Charbay

GIN:
1. No. 209 by Distillery No. 209 – The story here is intriguing, take a break and read it.
2. Junipero by Anchor Steam

RUM:
1. Charbay by Charbay
2. Agua Libre by St. George Spirits
3. Eurydice by St. George Spirits and exclusive to San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove
4. Sergeant Classic by Essential Spirits Alambic Distillery of Mountain View

WHISKEY:
1. St. George’s Single Malt Whiskey by St. George Spirits
2. Old Potrero by Anchor Distilling, the makers of Anchor Steam beer
3. Charbay by Charbay

And to answer your next question: All scotches, bourbons and whisk(e)ys are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are scotches or bourbons. Are you feeling like you’re in a gray area the color of charcoal? Never fear, I’ll explain it here so that you can actually remember (or at least have somewhere to go look it up and sound smart next time someone asks you the difference). First off, the spelling thing. Whisky is from Scotland only. WhiskEy is from anywhere else. Whiskey (since I’m American, I’m going to spell it with an “e”) is a spirit made from distilled, grain mash, usually barley, rye wheat or corn. Scotch whisky comes only from, you guessed it, Scotland, and Kentucky and Tennessee whiskeys from their respective states. Bourbon whiskey has to be made from at least 51 percent (and no more than 79 percent) corn, must be no more than 160 proof and must be aged for at least two years (most are aged for at least four years) in a charred oak barrel. That’s it. Simple as pie. There are myriad differences in each type of whiskey, based on proof, age, malt and type of barrel, mix of grains, etc. If you’re interested, Wikipedia has the most comprehensive article on the differences between Scotch and Whiskey and Bourbon I found.

Now that you know what kind of booze to order, what drink should you put it in?

GIMLET RECIPE:

“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else,” declairs Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler‘s The Long Goodbye. Today, the standard is 3:1 – three parts gin to one part Rose’s Lime.

HOT BUTTERED RUM RECIPE:

Three measures dark rum, two measures spiced light rum, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning, 1 lemon twist, 1 cinnamon stick. Boil water. Into a glass mug, pour rums and spices. Stir. Add six measures hot water, a tab of butter and the cinnamon stick.

MARTINI RECIPE:

a la James Bond in Ian Flemming‘s Casino Royale:
“Three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.
Got it?”

HOT TODDY RECIPE: Six ounces organic apple cider, two ounces whiskey. Heat the cider, pour into glass mug with handle, add whiskey.

If you’re looking for another type of green drink, you might have a good time at San Francisco’s Green Drinks, a monthly meeting of green-minded folks who come together in a social setting to talk about cool green stuff. Order yourself a gimlet with No. 209 and start a trend, or at least do Marlowe proud.


Green Your Christmas Holiday with a Living Tree

Photo http://www.christmastree company.com

When it comes down to how you’re going to green your Christmas, you’ve got about seven gazillion options, but the one thing nearly everyone does first, is go get a tree. And there’re definitely opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the sustainability of living trees, versus cut trees, versus plastic trees.

Having done my research, as I am wont to do, when you’re considering your green Christmas tree, plastic trees loose. Hands down. They’re generally made of PVC (nasty, old-format plastic made in China that off gasses toxins left and right) and even if they’re made of newer, less toxic petrochemicals, the trees often contain lead that flakes off over the years and their cores are often PVC.

Photo from lulu.com boots by schu

So what’s a girl to do? Put on some all natural mascara, some non-formaldehyde (among other things) vegan nail polish, some animal-friendly boots and go decorate the tree in your front yard – and don’t be tree-ist! Any tree will do, whether it’s got piney-type needles or not. Just ask the folks at SF Environment, where for $100 they will loan you a non-traditional, San Francisco-friendly potted tree, pick it up at your home after the Holiday and plant it for you somewhere in the city!

There are also mini-tree options if you live in a small space, want to give a tree, or just want to simplify your life. The Pinery, out of So. Cal., offers a variety of trees and tree-like options.

-Jocelyn Broyles