Updated: May 11, 2022
Sustainability is an important consideration If you want the piece of jewellery you are wearing to benefit, not damage the world. From people displacement and deforestation to soil contamination and dangerous working conditions, unsustainable practices are, unfortunately, commonplace in the mining industry. It is therefore important to know precisely where the materials a piece of jewellery is made from originate, right down to the exact mine. The same applies in relation to where and how a piece of jewellery was manufactured. Only then will you be able to determine whether a piece of jewellery has been produced sustainably.
For a jewel to be truly ethical, the designer will have considered all these factors, including how many hands the materials passed through and where it was made. A commonly used phrase when talking about ethical jewellery is “from mine to market”. This means that the journey of a piece of ethical jewellery should be direct and traceable, from the mine all the way to the customer.
ETHICALLY SOURCED METALS
No matter how fairly traded or carefully sourced, newly mined metals expend valuable resources. In our current state of climate emergency, it's vital that we slow the rate at which we’re consuming water, land and energy, that's why recycling metals is so important. When you order a jewel cast in recycled metal, you can rest assured that you're not contributing to the use and abuse of our natural resources because you've avoided the need for any further mining.
Our jewellery is produced using only silver, gold and platinum that's been sustainably sourced, causing no damage to human life and having minimal impact on the environment. There are a number of sustainable metal options available. 100% recyclable metals, Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined Gold. We only source our precious metals from official distributors which collaborate with Fairtrade or Fairmined Gold and most of our gold is 100% recyclable gold. We take this seriously because we believe that it is important not to contribute to unhealthy and damaging practices when possible.
ETHICALLY SOURCED GEMSTONES
There are currently no established bodies that trace the gemstone supply chain from mine to market, making transparent ethical sourcing of gemstones more difficult than with diamonds and metals. Gemstones, have complex supply chains because they are usually mined, cut, and sold in different countries. It is not uncommon to have a gemstone that is traceable to a reputable mine but has been cut elsewhere by workers who endure poor conditions. Another critical issue in the gemstone trade is the forced removal of indigenous communities, and the criminalisation of artisanal mining by indigenous peoples on their ancestral lands.
Despite the lack of transparency in the gemstone trade, there are a growing number of reputable suppliers who strive to closely track stones from mine to market, aiming to support environmental protection, fair labour practices, and a tight chain of custody to ensure traceability and transparency. As there are no established accreditation bodies to vouch for this traceability, there is an element of trust involved in choosing gemstone suppliers. Developing an open dialogue with your stone supplier is key. Thankfully, there are trustworthy stone suppliers who are transparent about their supply chains and open to engaging with customers about their stones and the trade.
While the gemstone industry is still in need of improvement, there are three main options for responsibly sourced gemstones. These are:
Gemstones with traceable supply chains illustrated by supplier documentation;
Lab Grown gemstones and;
We use lab grown gemstones and recycled gemstones in the majority of our pieces. However, when it comes to sourcing natural newly mined and cut gemstones, we do make sure we only choose the most reputable and trusted British and European suppliers.
An ethical jewellery business involves responsible sourcing of materials, responsible studio practices and transparent branding that communicates commitment to ethical making. We comply with this definition fully. In addition to finding the right suppliers, we also want our own work to be ethical and sustainable. All Valeria's Secret jewellery is handmade which already guarantees more transparency. We constantly research what the industry has to offer to find the most efficient and up to date studio practices and implement them in our work to make sure our jewellery is the best it could be.
LUXURY PRODUCTS CAN’T BE UNETHICAL, CAN THEY?
“It can’t be bad if it cost so much money,” is something people usually say, unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the jewellery sector alone, ethical concerns are rife, from the methods used to mine gold and diamonds to the sometimes dubious production practices in the Far East. They are what made me turn my back on the traditional fine jewellery industry and concentrate my efforts on creating ethical jewellery.
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER ETHICS WHEN BUYING A PIECE OF JEWELLERY?
Jewellery is very closely associated with our emotions. We are given it to mark special occasions, usually by a loved one, or we might buy it as a treat for ourselves. Either way, a piece of jewellery is charged with feeling. This, combined with that fact that we wear it next to our skin, makes jewellery more emotive than any other luxury item.
A favourite piece of jewellery will be loved, treasured and worn time and time again, but to truly feel good about it, it has to be beautiful inside and out. Buying a piece of ethical jewellery shows that you care about the environment. It also shows that you care about the people who played a part in its creation, right down to the miners – and their families – who were responsible for extracting the gold from the Earth. Ultimately, it shows that you want to make a difference with your choices, and that is a very powerful message.
WHY I CHOOSE TO MAKE ETHICAL JEWELLERY
Put simply, like you, I want to change the world. That is a very bold statement, but I am deeply committed to it. I care for the piece of jewellery that you are going to wear, which is why I can tell you precisely where the gold came from. In fact, I have visited the exact mine and watched the miners at work. I did this because I am proud of the jewellery I create and I want you to feel proud of it too – and to spread the word to everyone around you.