Tag Archives: gifts

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


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

Green Gifts Galore: Coffee, Soap, Play Clay and More!

Image from sacredground.com

It’s gift time, and while some of you out there did your shopping back in June, so you could actually relax before the Holidays, some of you (and all of me) didn’t.

Image from sapothecary.com

Here’s my first 10 green gifts in a series of great green gift ideas!
kyler by joy o
– sustainably fashion jewelry worn by the likes of Anne Hathaway
C5 Company – sustainable fine jewelry worn by the likes of Jorja Fox
Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay – gluten free, 100% natural and biodegradable
Sapothecary – all natural, handmade soaps
Kiss My Face – natural body care with labeling you can trust
Mother Love -herbal care products for motherhood and babies
Sacred Grounds
– sustainable fair trade local-to-California coffee
Klean Kanteen – one of the best, sustainable H2O bottles out there
NRDG Green Gifts – save polar bears, wolves, baby buffalo and more
Patagonia – a pioneer in sustainability with great style and quality

While doing my research (read: looking at really fun Holiday gifts and crafts) I came across two fabulous ideas for handmade advent calendars – one of my favorite parts of the Holidays.

Image from naturalsuburbia. blogspot.com

This advent calendar from Linda at Natural Suburbia, made me smile with delight. I may make one for myself!

Image from theredthread. blogspot.com

And then there was the advent tree from the red thread blog that reminded me so much of things I used to make while living in Costa Rica (there was an abundance of tree branches just waiting to be turned into art) that I may just have to make two advent-calendars-that-aren’t-really-calendars this year!

-Jocelyn Broyles

Green Gifts That Keep on Giving and Don’t Need to be Manufactured or Wrapped

Ahhhh, The Holidays. Most of us love them for various reasons, though the more aware we are, the harder it is to go to the mall (or if you live up here by Stanford, the Shopping Center) and brave the crowd. And if you’re like me, the sheer amount of products; the billions spent on marketing; and the damage done to human laborers, tested-on animals and the environment, from making all that stuff, rather takes the Holiday spirit right out of you.

From bobbypinblog. blogspot.com

But, I have found one utterly fabulous solution to the problem of masses, malls and mistreatment this Holiday season. The National Resources Defense Fund (NRDC), founded by John Adams who just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, has an entire website dedicated to Green Gifts of the sort that help those who can’t help themselves, generally due to lack of opposable thumbs.

1. The list includes something I’ve always wanted to do: adopt a wolf in Yellowstone.

2. Something we all should contribute to no matter what time of the year it is: stop the construction of more coal-burning power plants.

3. Something I had no idea was going on: the hazing and slaughtering of baby buffalo (bison) by government officials when the babies get outside of Yellowstone’s protective park. (Really, whatkind of person does this?) Keep baby buffalo safe from hazing.

4. And something we all know about: Polar bears are dying. They need your support so the NRDC can fight in court to save polar bears from global warming, Arctic oil development and trophy hunting. If we’re not careful, they could be extinct by 2050. That’s in our lifetime.

The NRDC offers dozens of options to help, ranging from those above and more, to reviving oceans, educating kids and helping low-income communities.

-Jocelyn Broyles

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