Something really struck me the other day. I had walked down to my local cafe for my afternoon coffee when a number of things made me think about the path that we’re on.
I was waiting in line for my much needed pick-me-up, when I looked around and saw a couple of women sitting, chatting about their wardrobes. One was excitedly telling the other how when she got dressed that morning, she’d realised that her entire outfit was from sustainable producers. Their conversation flowed that it was wonderful that brands were finally listening to consumers, or rather, that many young brands were consumers themselves and they were changing the industry model from within, towards a more conscious one.
I looked down at my reusable coffee cup, my shopping ‘bags for life’ slung over my shoulder and realised that their dialogue was one that was being had throughout almost every industry. We now have electric vehicles becoming more prevalent, and there is no doubt that they will soon be the norm. Conscious diners are adopting veganism as a way to pledge themselves to not just a healthier lifestyle, but to cut some slack to the planet. People are waking up to the misguided and irresponsible ways that we were told were tradition, and forging new paths, shining a light for a future that is not yet out of our control.
As I walked home, pondering this social evolution, I thought that it wouldn’t be long before this view would soon permeate every facet of how we consume, produce and live. As I neared closer to my studio and work crept back into my mind, I began thinking about the jewellery industry and how it may be one of the last holdouts against this new way of thinking.
"It's true that there are more and more jewellery brands who are seemingly waking up to the new reality, but for all their talk of ethically sourced gemstones, I know from experience that it is little more than lip service"
Consider for a moment, that from the time a gemstone leaves the ground until the time it sits on a jeweller’s bench, it can change hands and ownership several or more times. That makes it incredibly difficult to ascertain its true provenance, or for that matter, to be able to factor in the amount of human suffering that was potentially caused throughout this process. After all of this, a jewellery company can be granted an industry standard certificate which labels their stone as conflict-free, even though around a quarter of those stones will be labelled thus erroneously. The ins and outs of how a stone (more specifically a diamond) can get its certificate is fascinating, so keep an eye out for a future post where I’ll delve deeper into this. For now though, let’s get back to those words ethical and sustainable.
Let’s face it, we all obviously love new things. Not succumbing to the retail-fix that many are hopelessly addicted to takes some strength. Particularly now as more and more brands appear to be friendlier to the planet with their more sustainable materials, we are faced with the quandary of potentially still doing bad by buying slightly greener materials from fast fashion retailers who are still involved in unethical practices. And so it is with the jewellery trade. Many major brands have taken the initiative to start their own, erm, initiatives and programmes towards greater transparency or cleaner sourcing of their stones and metals. But with their self-governed criteria being so vague and far reaching, there is a lot of room for discrepancy in their definition as to what is truly ethical or sustainable.
It had always unsettled me that I was a part of this very industry and that although I always sought out the most direct and ethical sources for my own materials, there was ultimately no way of being 100% sure that the beautiful jewellery I was designing and producing to be worn as a keepsake or symbol of love, wasn’t arriving on a river of pain and suffering. Although 90% of Monarc’s metals are recycled, I knew that there was a good chance that some of the diamonds I had procured for customers, could have slipped through the standards net and obtained its certificate despite its true origins. This is why, as of today, every diamond product in the Monarc range will be an above ground diamond, 100% conflict free and with zero carbon footprint.
There have been lab-grown ‘diamonds’ in the past, but these were easily identifiable as such, and for that reason, were considered inferior. In recent years though, technology has brought us to a point where machines are able to harness the strength of the sun and create atomically identical diamonds, completely indistinguishable from those traditionally mined from the earth’s mantle.
"I am immensely proud to announce Monarc's steadfast approach to sustainability, and to offer a jewellery collection that shows the diamond, a symbol of love, doesn't have to come at the cost of environmental justices."