Tag Archives: green products

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

ACE WINNER!

Well, it took us a while (we had a little Halloween Fete get in the way of all else for a couple of weeks) but we finally randomly drew our ACE Hardware gift certificate winner! And the prize goes to Jessi, who would like to see biobags for dogs in her ACE Hardware store. Jessi, we’ll see what we can do! Thank you all for your participation.

ATFR Revisted and Remember to Comment to Win $100 of Green Products

The family reunion turned out to be great fun, and instead of using compostable silverwear and plates, we opted for reusables. All the dishes fit into one dishwasher load, and for 31 family members, including kids, there was one bag of trash (I admit, someone else brought Solo cups that had to be thrown out and stuff comes wrapped in paper and plastic). Even so, I still found this event to be a good motivator for a pat on the back and more eco-friendly maneuvers at my next group event.

In other news, we are still running our comment-to-win contest, so stop reading and go comment on the product you’d most like to see in your local ACE store. For details read the greennii blog from August 24.

-Jocelyn Broyles