Sustainable Jewelry – Buzzword or The Real Deal?
We’re all concerned with creating a cleaner world with a brighter future, and that starts with each one of us. For those of us who love (love love) jewelry, this may be a concern a of yours. The making of jewelry starts with mining minerals and metals from the earth, can involve harsh chemicals during the manufacturing process, and might take\ place in the poorest countries with the worst worker safeguards. So what is a jewelry loving person like me (& you!) to do? Thankfully, we have many options today that didn’t exist even ten years ago.
I am very proud to be on the national board of Womens’ Jewelry Association. This 30-year-old trade group was formed to help women break through glass ceilings, achieve their personal and professional goals, and create a strong network of friends and supporters to keep the company along the way. Last week we had a terrific event called Jewelry Night Out – 14 parties across the country all celebrating the friendship, professional development, and fun that comes with being a part of this group. I attended the event in Miami, but here are photos from parties in New York, Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, and other places across the country! If you are a member of any part of the wonderful world of jewelry, see if there’s a WJA chapter near you at http://www.womensjewelryassociation.com/. You shouldn’t let us have this much fun without you!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and pink is the color of breast cancer awareness. If you didn’t notice pink rubber awareness bracelets throughout the year, you’ll have a hard time missing them during this month. Purchases of those bracelets provides income for breast cancer research and support, so here’s an example of how a rubber bracelet can claim a type of quality all its own – the quality of philanthropy. But if you want to give back while wearing something with more fine jewelry appeal, you have several options. First, stop by your local independent jeweler. Many independent jewelers create their own cause jewelry and donate a percentage of each purchase to research. Ostbye in Minneapolis offers a 14k two tone pendant with diamond melee that makes a simple, delicate . . . and fine statement of support. Studio 2015 Jewelers in Woodstock, Illinois designs a new breast cancer awareness piece each year that is auctioned off for breast cancer research and is available for sale through the store. Chances are very good that an independent jeweler in your area is doing something special too.
Jewelry designers create cause pieces as well. Tacori’s 18k pink gold pendant with diamonds is a beautiful statement piece, and at the other end of the price spectrum Sara Blaine designs a series of silver dog tags in her “It’s the Journey” series supporting breast cancer research. My point, as always, is that quality can be part of every jewelry purchase. Of course, my preference for pink this month would probably be Omi Prive’s amazing pink tourmaline ring – with a personal donation to breast cancer research on the side.
Studio 2015 18k White Pendant
Tacori 18k Rose with Diamonds
- Ostbye 14k 2-Tone Pendant
The Diamond Industry is currently whispering and trying to resolve their concerns & fears regarding synthetic diamonds (i.e. lab-grown). The drama started when recent parcels of synthetic diamonds were submitted to grading labs (in several countries) as natural diamonds. Most industry leaders, however, are calm and confident that detection systems and instruments are effective…and all is well.
Yet, as “officials” sourced-back to the suppliers of these covert and fraudulent submissions …there is evidence that even natural Diamonds are surrounded by disturbing fears. Remember the movie “Blood Diamonds”? This Oscar nominated movie told the horrific story of unimaginable human suffering due to diamonds mined in the conflict areas of chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990’s Sierra Leone. A blood diamond, also known as a conflict diamond, is rough diamond used by rebel movements to finance war against legitimate governments. Well, in 2000 The Kimberly Process (KP) began as a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. As of January 2012, KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds and its important work continues throughout the world. In addition, every reputable jeweler in the US participates in the diamond industry’s “System of Warranties” to ensure their jewelry does not include even a single conflict diamond (aka blood diamond).
Yet, just a few days ago, a new episode of the TV series, “Covert Affairs” (USA Network) aired with conflict diamonds, again in the spotlight. When pop culture keeps blood diamonds in our conversation, all is not well (even in the US) from my point-of-view. To those of you who don’t follow the show: During a 36 hour assignment, Auggie (CIA) tells his friend and colleague (Annie) about his decision to propose to his new girlfriend (Parker). Now, never mind the “tension”/bond between Annie & Auggie….watch the show for that stuff. Simultaneous with the proposal-plan announcement, however, Auggie shows Annie the engagement ring he purchased. Auggie bought a Pearl Ring—not a Diamond Ring; YIKES, Auggie! He explains to Annie, “I couldn’t go the traditional route, because of the blood diamond trade.” Yes, I shed a tear for Diamonds & Covert Affairs.
Diamonds & Pearls are both classics within the world of fashion. Oh, how I love the old movies with Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn wearing their pearls! Yes, I have a strand (or two)…and sometimes I am in the mood to wear a pair of simple, elegant pearl stud earrings. Diamonds, however, are in another league. Only a Diamond is the ultimate symbol of beauty, because a set-diamond is more than a jewelry accessory. Diamonds become part of us as soon as these natural beauties touch our skin. (BTW, pearls can be damaged if they are not gently wiped after being worn or touching our skin.) More importantly, a Diamond remains the ultimate symbol of love. Diamonds communicate what many men cannot seem to get out of their mouths – LOL. So, as I delight in the fact that more and more confident women purchase diamonds for themselves, (refusing to wait for a man to buy them ), many of these same confident women (like me)ALSO remain moved, breathless or teary-eyed when a man pops “the” question with a Diamond Engagement Ring.
As the character on “Covert Affairs” chose a pearl stud ring for his engagement ring last week, I shed a tear, because I believe that most women (and some great men) feel the same as me. Above all else, a Diamond means love and publicly “says” love like no other gemstone or gift. My last post, “Changing the World with Jewelry Activism” also spoke of the good Diamonds do for so many throughout the world. In the US, an estimated 80% of engagements remain sealed with a Diamond Engagement Ring (DER), but I am obviously concerned that the DER may not remain the cultural imperative it is. The Diamond Industry must do a better job communicating the status of global Diamond trading. So, this article is my attempt to contribute to that discussion…and I’m not whispering!
Changing the World with Jewelry Activism
Quality Jewelry enhances our lives for sure. Whether we receive jewelry for a Birthday, Anniversary or “Just Because” …fine jewelry makes our important occasions more memorable. Gifted fine jewelry is always an intimate expression of love and who doesn’t know that a Diamond is the ultimate expression of love! Jewelry we purchase for ourselves also enhances our lives. Unlike other accessories, we don’t just feel more “put together” with fine jewelry; we feel more confident and more beautiful, because quality jewelry and natural gemstones become part of us versus part of our ensemble.
WHAT ABOUT THE SOURCE OF OUR JEWELRY? Following one of my recent seminars, I received a “thank-you-gift” of pink beads that perfectly matched a designer’s pink jacket that I was wearing. BEADS, REALLY? Most people know that I am about natural gemstones, diamonds and only precious metals—the “noble metals”. Well, I graciously accepted the gift and simultaneously learned about a great initiative: “Bead for Life”. The beads are hand-made in Uganda, Africa with recycled paper ….and have been featured on NBC Nightly News, O Magazine, Vanity Fair and more. In 2004, when the founders launched BeadforLife, they had no idea of how their endeavor would expand to help so many!
MJ Christensen Diamonds (Jewelers since 1939; located in Las Vegas) is the jeweler that bestowed upon me the Beads for Life …but more important, they host an Annual Runway for Life Event at both of their jewelry locations. BRAVO, MJ Christensen!
Click this link to see one of their events: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3klizEpUb4w
There are other independent jewelers that are “doing good” for their communities and beyond….find out who they are in your area. If you are around Phoenix, Arizona, you should stop-in and say hi to Molina Fine Jewelers who operates with a mission: CHANGING THE WORLD ONE JEWEL AT A TIME™. Over the past 20 years, along with the time and talents of CEO, Alfredo J. Molina, Molina Fine Jewelers has proudly donated over $30 Million in support of local and national charitable organizations…in addition to hosting hundreds of events that motivate others to give.
Click to see a video of just one of Molina’s dedicated fundraising initiatives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYBjXkvlnWo
No matter where you shop, I want you to know that buying DIAMONDS is good for many…and provides critical revenue for some countries. Few people know that Diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13. An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds. Still more can be done and here are my favorite organizations that are involved:
The Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) is an international non- profit organization supporting education initiatives in diamond producing countries. Website: http://www.diamondempowerment.org
The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) works to ensure that Diamonds become an engine for development in countries where artisanal diamond-diggers labor in poverty, outside the formal economy. Website: http://www.ddiglobal.org/