Jewelry has been a part of our history since the dawn of time. Some of the oldest humans remains were found to have worn jewelry. Jewelry became humanity's answer for self-expression. After all, it is the oldest form of art. Long before we needed writing and painting, we felt the need to decorate ourselves. It was a way to share in on energies that were beyond us. At its core, jewelry makes statements. The beauty of it is that they are not about itself as an object. They are about the subtle interaction between human, nature and art. We've trivialized it, yet it still clings to us. We can't completely let it go and can't completely explain why. Despite this and the mass-producing, we're seeing a revival in recent years. We started to re-associate the personality with the jewelry. We're making it ours again.
And we should do this the right way.
How often do we wonder about the implications of our actions? About our footprint on the world? We've already gone too far with this thoughtless mass producing. We simply chose to look away on this issue.
I know I didn't do it very much. When I started making jewelry, I was completely immersed into making my art and finding my voice and style. Last year though, I was offered an interesting subject. I prepared a collection for a group exhibit titled "Remains of the feast". It asked us to think of a world in which we've consumed everything. And each designer who participated had a take on it.
Since I grew up surrounded by nature, I chose a subject dear to me and decided to approach environmental issues. While doing more research on the subject, I've discovered much more problems with our industry. At first, I thought that since I'm just using recycled silver and gemstones I'm doing my part. Sadly though, the issues run much deeper and there are so many more things I could do differently in order to make for a better future.
I'm always exploring and researching new avenues: using recycled gemstones and metal, synthetics, I'm conscious of recycling everything I'm using into the production process, but I still have so much to change and do to build truly sustainable designs.
As of now, fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil, but usually the conversation focuses on clothes and is easy to overlook accessories. Jewelers typically rely on complex supply chains to produce their pieces. The metals and gemstones are mined in dozens of countries around the world. After that, they are usually traded, exported and processed in other countries. Processed materials are then transformed into jewelry in manufacturing plants and workshops around the world. By the time it reaches the retailer, it may be difficult if not impossible to know the origin of the raw material. It's hard to know if they are involved in human rights issues or environmental harm.
It's true, we cannot wake up tomorrow and decide we are not sustainable. To achieve this, a level of activism and involvement is required. It's true, it's hard in the beginning, but we should add to it day by day. Making conscious decisions to improve, raising the bar day by day on our practices, constantly seeking new methods to improve the lives of others while protecting the planet, is a step in the right direction.
When we're exposing the problem and we're making it known to everybody, we're making them conscious of it and we're shaping the world we want to live in. It's extremely important to adopt solutions that are currently in place and to create our own. Ultimately, it is up to us to drive this art forward. It is one of our jobs as designers to decide the face of the jewelry we want to see.