We live in a disposable culture that influences our every choice from electronics, to clothes, to food and fashion. And of course, this includes jewellery too. While instant accessory gratification at bargain prices can be addictive and lots of fun, like all addictions it comes at a price.
Sadly, while cheap to buy and easy to wear, mass produced jewellery has a dark back-story, including human exploitation, damage to the environment and child labour. It’s cheap for a reason.
It’s a bleak reality that the vast majority of costume jewellery is made in factories in developing economies that have no respect or care for their employees or the environment. And jewellery that’s made from precious metals like gold and silver is often no better, with the added disadvantage that mining for these metals is appallingly damaging to the environment.
Of course we love jewellery and we will always want to wear it because it creates personal connections and memories, fortunately it’s easy to make choices that maintain respect and consideration for the men and women who make it, and that help to protect our environment.
Here are some really easy, fun, creative and personalised ways you can enjoy wearing gorgeous jewellery whilst making a more ethical choice. Beauty on the inside as well as the outside.
1. Choose recycled material
Search for designers who use recycled/reclaimed materials in their jewellery. This reduces the impact of mining for new materials and so is a more sustainable option. The beauty of precious metals is that they can be used over and over again with no deterioration – there’s really no need to extract any more. It’s surprising how few jewellery brands actually use recycled metals/materials but here are a couple we love (in addition to us at www.Mosami.co.uk of course)
2. Buy preloved
Check out your local auction house or charity shop for a preloved item. It’s such an exciting way to shop as you never quite know what you will find and every piece has its own unique history. And when your style moves on you can simply return it to the same place for someone else to enjoy!
3. Keep it in the family
Heirloom jewellery can carry sentiment and life stories - there’s nothing quite so connecting as wearing a piece of jewellery from someone you’ve loved. Whether it’s a homemade brooch from a child or granny’s diamond ring, it’s equally precious.
4. Purchase Fairtrade
Fairtrade silver is the only way to ensure that miners get a fair price for their work and are provided with a safe working environment. Fairtrade also pays an additional 10% that goes into a fund for community development projects. And miners can earn an extra 5% on top of the premium if they work without the use of toxic chemicals such as mercury or cyanide.
We buy Fairtrade silver when we can, but it’s in very short supply currently so we are privileged to get any at all. Our bestselling Wisdom Cuff is made in Fairtrade silver and inscribed with a choice of wisdoms; ‘Be the change you want to see’ and ‘Do small things with great love’.
There are a number of fine jewellers who use only Fairtrade gold & silver,
find them here:
5. Make it unique
By commissioning a bespoke item from an independent designer, you can be sure you’re getting something made from ethical materials as well as something beautiful & unique to wear. Supporting independent jewellers is also a great way to invest in small business and your local arts community.
This stunning ring was made by Fairtrade fine jeweller Anna Loucah.
6. Buy for life
We live in a disposable culture with everything from electronics, to clothes, to food and yes, it includes jewellery too. While instant gratification can be addictive, try to take your time and choose a timeless piece you’ll want to wear forever. Our 'Happy Days' mantra bracelet is a lovely 'for life' piece. It's made from solid silver (reclaimed of course!) and is designed to be used as reminder to take a little time each day for personal gratitude practice - something that will help with happiness and wellbeing for all your life!
7. Restyle your precious jewellery
Perhaps you don’t need to buy new at all, precious jewellery is perfect for restyling. If you have broken jewellery or a piece that you don’t like or grown tired of, have it refashioned by a jeweller into something you love. Many jewellers will take gold and silver jewellery and remake it to your own design, and precious stones can easily be remounted into more contemporary settings.
8. Make your own
You don’t need to be a qualified silversmith. If you love quirky jewellery, then upcycling is for you. Type ‘upcycled jewellery’ into Pinterest and you’ll find a vast array of ideas for unique pieces made from broken china, old forks, tea cups, antique keys, buttons, broken toys and even old computer parts. There are lots of jewellery making classes around - invest some time in your creative side! And of course it’s the ultimate upcycling!
9. Swish it
If you’ve never been to a Swishing event you’re missing out! It’s a fantastic way to update your wardrobe - swap out the looks you’re bored with for something different with a new twist to refresh your style. Why not adopt the same idea with your costume jewellery – invite a bunch of girlfriends over for the evening, get everyone to bring along the Jewellery they no longer wear and swap with each other so that everyone goes home with something new and fun to wear. It’s a lovely way to connect to friends too as you will be reminded of the person who first owned the piece whenever you wear it J
More about Swishing here: http://swishing.com/
10. Support social enterprises
There are some truly inspirational projects and people out there working together to bring independence, self worth, new skills and opportunity to women in marginalised communities in many parts of the world. It takes real dedication and selflessness to make these kinds of projects successful so I'd like to offer a big namaste to three wonderful projects that we support and admire.
Made By Survivors - making life-changing opportunities for survivors of trafficking
Nagpana - nurturing indigenous artisans to inspire our connection to the forest.
A Beautiful Story - providing desperately needed jobs & income for highly skilled makers in India & Nepal.
11. Recycle old costume jewellery
If it’s really past its sell-by date or you’ve worn it to death, there are lots of ways to recycle. Search online for local recycling projects or for ease and speed, Friends of the Earth offer a free recycling service – just pop everything into an envelope and post to this FREEPOST address
Friends of the Earth
Amber Business Village
Tamworth B77 4RP
more info here: