Carbon Heroes – Ethical Jewellery

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Can you tell us a little about yourself and the inspirations behind your brand?

My entry into jewellery manufacturing was accidental. After taking a few years out of the workforce to raise my son, I had decided it was time to start writing again. I wanted to write a book about the history of betrothal rings. The subject matter was inspired by a book on jewellery textures and finishes my partner had randomly bought for me. A jeweller I interviewed thought my designs were interesting, and, in 2005, offered to make them for me and sell them in her shop.

I became fascinated by gemstones and decided to study to become a Gemmologist. Around this time I also partnered in a small, start-up boutique jewellery business. Through my research for Gem school, I learned of Oxfam’s ‘no dirty gold’ campaign. I also heard a story from a gem merchant about children going blind as a result of working in cutting factories in Thailand. The images of painful death through mercury exposure, polluted waterways and blind children, plus child and other exploited labour ignited a conviction in me that things could be done better.

For lifestyle, practical and financial reasons, I also liked the idea of moving into the online space exclusively. The Ethical Jewellery Australia brand was started in 2007 with the support of my partner Benn.

Why is caring for the environment important to you?

I am someone who takes the long view of things. It is, I believe, reckless and selfish not to care for it. This planet is not ours exclusively as individuals.

Climate-change is something we all need to take seriously. I believe that every single person can and should do whatever they can to mitigate their carbon footprint and if possible, support others who do so on a broader scale.

What motivates you to support CNCF’s work in particular?

For years Benn and I talked about wanting to plant trees as a carbon offset. We picked CNCF for a couple of reasons, one was that it was an Australian organisation and also because the only mined diamonds we source are from Western Australia, so it seemed like a good fit.

Are there any other green initiatives that your organisation is working on?

In many respects, almost our entire business is built around being ‘green’. We take social responsibility very seriously too, but right from the beginning we’ve only ever offered ethically and responsibly sourced products.

Right now we’re reviewing our packaging in an effort to find the lowest footprint solution we can whilst still maintaining the perception of value and quality for our customers. This theme is echoed through all the things we do in our working life.

We have plenty of room for improvement and are constantly adapting as we learn more.

In other areas we support initiatives such as Toby Pomeroy’s mercury free mining challenge. And we’re also in talks with organisations that support communities in the fair trade mining space.

We also work exclusively with responsibly recycled metals and handmake our jewellery in Australia.

Do you have any environmental goals that you would like to achieve? If yes, how and by when?

A big part of our ‘mission’ if you like, is to educate jewellery consumers about the ethics behind the products they buy and to help them make informed decisions.

Our goal is to have people think about where their jewellery comes from in the same way they think about free range eggs and fast fashion.

That’s a huge job in itself, and living up to that standard ourselves keeps us pretty busy. Beyond going as low waste as we can and planting more vegetables, nothing else leaps to mind at the moment.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our supporters?

Being an ethically-minded consumer of any product still isn’t all that easy even now.

Often, to do the right thing you have to go to a lot of effort and it’s easy to wonder what possible difference could you be making.

The same could be said for planting a couple of trees to off-set carbon emissions.

Two trees won’t make a lot of difference, but you’re part of a collective effort and every little bit helps.