Environmentally friendly and fair
As a goldsmith, I also try to think about my carbon footprint and to make my work greener and fairer, where I can. Sometimes I make small improvements, step by step my studio is becoming more environmentally friendly and fairer. What kind of things do I do then? I will explain further below!
First of all: materials!
The gold that is for sale in the Netherlands for goldsmiths at the wholesalers is almost all recycled gold, fortunately. So that is already a huge plus! I also make a lot of jewelry on commission from old gold. This gold comes from old jewelry (such as wedding rings) that is brought along, which I use to make something new. It may be that I leave the original piece of jewellery intact, or I can completely melt it down and make it into something new, just what you want!
Recently I also started using recovered diamonds. These are diamonds that come from old pieces of jewellery. The diamonds are checked for authenticity, quality and whether they are natural diamonds. So actually recycled diamonds! Since diamonds are the hardest gemstones in existence, they do not actually wear out. The recycled diamonds are therefore checked for this: stones with wear or fractures do not pass the inspection. The good quality stones are just as beautiful in quality as when they were just cut. An additional advantage is that the recovered diamonds are also slightly more affordable than new diamonds, so win-win!
Over the years I have collected many gems to use in my jewelry. I know (partly) where some stones come from, because I bought them from a gemstone cutter in India, for example. With some stones I can no longer trace back their origin. Because it is also a waste of the raw materials to not use these stones, I will not have them collect dust in my archive. I will use these stones, but my aim is to stop buying stones from which I cannot
find out where they come from. So if you would like to know more about a particular stone in a piece of jewellery: please contact me!
I package the jewellery I sell in a jewellery box. The new boxes I ordered are made of cardboard and paper with an FSC quality mark. The tissue paper I use to keep the jewellery in place in the boxes, or to wrap the boxes with, also has an FSC quality mark.
To ship the jewelry, I reuse as much packaging as possible that I have received myself. My attic has become a storage for small, empty cardboard boxes that do not all fit together. I also neatly fold the paper that other shops use as filling for filling their shipping boxes and keep it so I can use it again.
Again, I once bought new cardboard boxes because I sold and shipped many mugs. I still have some of these boxes, so I will still use them. So you may receive your jewellery in a new box, if that's the best solution available. I prefer to use paper tape to seal the boxes, but this tape does not always adhere well to all surfaces. Because I want my jewelry to arrive neatly, of course, I will sometimes have to choose plastic tape, just to be on the safe side.
In the studio:
For making jewellery, we do not only need the materials that a piece of jewelry is made of, but also tools to make the jewelry, or other materials for cleaning the jewellery, for example.
Many chemicals are used in a goldsmith workshop, for example for soldering, cleaning jewellery or for etching. Where possible, I try to find an environmentally friendly alternative to these chemicals. The book “Eco Jewelry Handbook” has been of great help! Not only did I get tips that are better for the environment, but also better for my own health. So here again: win-win!
There is a kind of “Elephant in the Room” when it comes to goldsmithing and making your studio “sustainable”. You actually want to use as much renewable raw materials and energy as possible, which is why I also use recycled gold and recycled diamonds.
One of the raw materials that I have not yet been able to find a good environmentally friendly substitute for is gas. As a goldsmith, we need gas to be able to solder and melt. We cannot really make jewelry without our torches.
To compensate for that I pay for Trees for All to plant two trees annually.