It’s the in thing. Unavoidable, and impossible to ignore, the latest trends in how we eat, the textiles we use, how we furnish our homes, and the precious items we adorn ourselves with now come with a conscience. It’s no longer just about what you wear, but what it’s made from, how it was made and who made it – even the production and labor practices of the companies that produce consumer goods and how the companies get those consumer goods to market is subject to careful scrutiny for environmental and ethical values.
This focus on process is now an intrinsic element of branding: The new consciousness of accountability is becoming an important component of everyone’s message - whether they are a fashion designer or a furniture designer or a food artisan.
In honor of Earth Day and Earth Week, Karin Kloosterman talked to Marilyn Kirschner of LookOnLine.com about the eco-friendly jewelry trends for 2009, who first noted that all the major fashion and style magazines have presented their readers with issues that feature ecology-friendly clothing, accessories and green jewelry.
Of course, as Kirschner was quick to point out, “The ultimate recycling is wearing vintage” – so raiding the thrift stores, the attic and your grandparent’s jewelry box and wardrobes is totally chic! We’ve harvested a few of Kirschner’s top tips on where to look for the trendiest green and ethical luxuries:
ECO-mmerce flourishes at yoox.com, which recently unveiled its YOOXYGEN marketplace. YOOXYGEN promotes eco-friendly and ethically conscious fashion, design, green jewelry, and books. Look to Carmina Campus by Ilaria Venturini Fendi for accessories and jewelry crafted from recycled materials, including a clutch purse cleverly fashioned out of aluminum slats from repurposed Venetian blinds.
Natural Jewels by Caboclo Jewellery features objects found on the rainforest floors, handmade by the local artisans of Brazil’s Amazon river region. They use a variety of materials gleaned from the area - the seeds of plants are mixed with stones, bone, fiber, leather, mother-of-pearl and other natural materials - to create one-of-a-kind treasures. Steampunk, Goth and neo Victorian style combine vintage objects from the thrift store and the attic with magical results. Buttons, beads, appliqué, watch mechanisms and retro jewelry are fantastically transformed into delicately tongue-in-cheek works of wearable art.
Subversive Jewelry’s Justin Giunta’s designs have a “More is More” esthetic that makes us think of swathes of artfully draped loot, from a pirate’s treasure. Kirschner characterizes Giunta’s jewelry as “Very baroque looking, but very cool and hip”. Giunta’s necklaces drip with cascades of chains, stranded lockets, brooches, and clusters of enormous faux pearls and improbable beads. This hot designer’s pieces are often featured in the latest fashion shows.
On the high end of the green jewelry tree hang Danforth Diamonds, Brilliant Earth, and GreenKarat. All three companies offer gems that are conflict free and of ethical origin in settings that are recycled from scrap precious metal or post-consumer sources. Danforth Diamonds offers engagement rings that use eco-friendly recycled precious metals (“Refined, Not Mined”), and conflict-free diamonds or diamonds sourced from Canada. The Canadian diamonds are mined according to strict standards set out by the government of the Northwest Territories to protect the Arctic environment and the mine workers. The Harmony Recycled Precious Metals are reclaimed from precious metal scrap.
Brilliant Earth donates a percentage of its profits to help communities that have suffered from unethical practices in the jewelry industry, and encourages its customers to recycle the gold and platinum jewelry they own, but never wear!
Much thanks to Marilyn Kirschner.