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By Diane Small
Humankind has mined the earth’s bounty for thousands of years, but it’s only over the course of the past century that this has been done on such a massive scale, that mining is now one of the largest causes of deforestation.
So when jewellery brands get the brilliant idea of using existing metals and gems to make their creations, we can’t help but applaud them, especially if their work is irresistibly gorgeous.
Here, we’ve discovered the work of half a dozen talented artisans who are creating jewellery purely from melted down, recycled gold, other metals and stones, breathing new life into unique pieces and proving beyond a doubt that when it comes to creating jewellery, there really is no need to scar the Earth in the search for new materials.
Each piece by this brand is, of course, made from 100% recycled materials – but that’s not all that makes it sustainable. Zefyr directly runs audits on their workshops in Jaipur, India where all of the pieces are made. In addition, all of Zefyr’s Indian artisans receive free training, public transport and health checks as part of their employment.
Whilst the brand adores working with gold, Zefyr’s delicate MONSOON collection, comprised of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets is made from 100% recycled sterling silver. And as an added ethical insignia, a percentage of the proceeds go back to the place that inspired the design – a local charity in the mountain regions of Northern Laos.
Toby Pomeroy is a pioneer. He was one of the very first to start using earth-friendly gold and silver to make minimalist jewellery collections that are as ethical as they are elegant.
It all began in 2006, when Pomeroy made a conscious decision to stop contributing to the massive environmental and social disasters caused by the precious metals mining industry by creating a line of recycled metals. After making some inquiries to metal refiners to see whether they could take existing gold and silver and melt them down into new materials. The result was EcoGold and EcoSilver, a breakthrough in 2006 and now well-established choices in the sustainable jewellery industry.
Pomeroy uses EcoGold and EcoSilver in his own collections, which are designed with simplicity – as well as sustainability – in mind.
Ah, romance! It all starts with a bit of flirting, moves to dates, weeks together, then months. And if the stars align, it may lead to marriage, and Midori Ferris Wayne makes wedding and engagement bands like no other. No new mining is supported by her charming rings, which are crafted out of reclaimed 14K rose gold and sterling silver bi-metal (front is gold, reverse is silver, fused together) and reclaimed 14K white gold. Should you wish to add a few sparkles, the tiny diamonds she uses are resurrected from antique jewellery. No romance on the horizon? No problem. This designer makes earrings, necklaces and much more, too.
Do you believe the history of the Earth is one of the most beautiful stories we have? Then this San Francisco-based jeweler is for you. Kristen Muenster uses only 100 percent recycled precious metals and traceable fossils that allow you to take a little bit of history with you wherever you go. Whether its ancient coral and shells or tiny insects trapped in amber, Muenster can capture them wonderfully in her jewellery, giving them eternal life.
As any observant person knows, nature is a magnificent artist: everything from the bursts of colours it paints on autumnal trees to the silvery shimmer of fish scales have inspired poets, painters and jewellery makers too. Matthew Moerman has translated the texture of tree bark and dew drops into wearable art. A strong advocate of natural conservation, Moerman takes pride in choosing heirloom-quality, ethically sourced gemstones. Every one of his pieces is made with recycled gold, diamonds and precious stones.
What comes raw from the Earth is sometimes the most beautiful, as Make Wilde’s designers Chloe Byrne and Andrew Sapienza know. Their summer collection is not only inspired by nature’s radiant sunrays and budding blooms, but their glowing golds, pure whites and rich reds were also inspired by Renaissance paintings and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. Locally sourced Rubies, Sapphires, Topaz, Quartz clusters, and Herkimer Diamonds are set in recycled metals to create wee bits of wearable sculptures.