Handmade Eco Jewellery Hits the Mainstream
Image by B. Alter: Ute Decker
Ethical jewellery is hitting the mainstream now. There are more and more designers working with ethical materials and the public is becoming more interested and concerned about the provenance of their jewels. This year, London Jewellery Week featured ESSENCE, a whole section of beautiful eco, ethical jewellery styles to suit every taste and price range.
The mix of offerings was a reflection of the whole show: There were some conventional eco designers and some way-out pieces. No longer is ethical jewellery confined to the hippy edges of the market. Ute Decker works with a range of sustainable materials to create her modern, silver bracelets and rings.
Decker makes her silver pieces out of recycled silver from a supplier (CRED Sources) in the UK. She uses bio-resin made from grapefruit for some of her funkier red necklaces, one of which won a Show Prize. Her architectural pieces, based on a Japanese ethos, are minimalist and striking.
By contrast, Avasarah makes these delicate and detailed necklaces with inspirational sayings around the rim. Called the Talismanic Collection, these recycled sterling silver discs are finished with semi-precious stones such as topaz and moonstone from India. One says"Walk gently, breathe deeply, laugh freely." Another says "My path is clear, angels' light my way." The designer says that because these particular pieces convey a strong emotion, friends give them to one another on special occasions: birthdays, divorces and anniversaries.
Image by April Doubleday
Make April Doubleday an honorary Canadian: her brother lives in Toronto and she has been to Algonquin Park and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Now that's eclectic, as is her jewellery. Some of her work is made from recycled silver, other is made from gold from the Ore Verde, the green gold mine in Columbia. She makes lovely engagement rings, with Canadian diamonds, and knows the provenance of the stones in them, because couples want that information now.
CRED was one of the pioneers of the Fairtrade jewellery movement. They were the first European retailer to sell certfied Fair Trade gold and ethically sourced stones. They worked with the Oro Verde green gold mine in Columbia, a small scale mining operation which "seeks to preserve the unique and vital virgin rainforest ecosystems while providing a fair, regular source of income to miners, their families and their communities. "
Keren Cornelius makes necklaces out of old yarns and old threads. The very delicate threads are hand spun and hand dyed. She uses old buttons found in charity shops as decoration, interspersing them through the necklaces. Sometimes she winds the old threads through silver chains to give a glittering effect. She is inspired by the costumes in the opera world, each one used and repaired and patched over the years. Her jewellery has that textural feeling with rows of stitching and hours of labour. Each piece is named after the length of time it took to make it: Unlimited Hours, 28 Hours, 15 Hours and Limited Hours.