More and more consumers are paying attention to not only who makes their purchases (small batch and handcrafted makers, please!), but also how they make it. It's not enough to assure that a favorite accessory wasn't mass produced in an overseas sweatshop by a faceless conglomerate. There is a rising tide of consumers who want to assure that what they purchase did not have a negative impact on the environment through destructive sourcing of materials or polluting manufacturing processes.
In our little sphere of modern jewelry, that means metals that are mined with the least possible negative effect on the environment, or even better, not mined at all. Gold and silver mining can be extremely destructive, creating tons of waste and negatively altering the landscape. Hence the rise in designers' use of recycled fine metals. By buying jewelry made from recycled fine metals, consumers avoid the impact to the earth by lowering the demand for newly mined gold and silver.
Some of our favorite pieces made from recycled metals are from Dana Bronfman. The designer’s background in the non-profit space inspires the brand’s conscious ethos. Dana creates each jewel from recycled fine metals and donates a portion of all proceeds to non-profits, as well as advocates for education and environmental protection. Her collection draws inspiration from New York City’s industrial architecture, juxtaposing the city’s glamour and grit by combining eighteen karat gold with sterling silver in matte, hammered, and oxidized finishes. Modern earrings and necklaces include unexpected elements such as movement and dainty details while geometric shapes define her rings and bracelets.
We see the use of recycled metals continuing to grow as consumers become more educated and concerned about the environmental impact of the fine jewelry industry. Just as the craft and maker movement has brought the negative aspects of mass-production to the forefront and increased demand for the artisanal, locally produced and independently created, the growing use of eco-conscious materials will help transform the jewelry industry's environmental footprint.