APRIL 22, 1970: America’s first Earth Day. Twenty million Americans demonstrate across the country in an effort to pressure the government into creating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
DECEMBER 1970: Congress authorizes the EPA, new organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.
Earth Day is a celebration of the power of the people and our collective respect for the environment. While metalsmithing and gemstone mining is a historically opaque and dirty business, emerging and established designers are changing this by employing new techniques and processes, joining organizations, and taking action to remedy the negative impacts of the jewelry business.
In honor of Earth Day, we’re shining a light on some of our artists who embody the spirit of sustainable design:
Lauren Wolf Jewelry, well-known for walking the line between primitive and polished, has made unusual stones and unique settings the focus of her fine jewelry line for many years. Darker colored stones have historically been discarded and considered valueless– thanks to designers like Lauren, who are responsible for elevating the perception of darker stones, what would otherwise be considered waste or cast-off diamonds are turned into treasures to be worn and valued for generations.
Luana Coonen and TAP by Todd Pownell are members of Ethical Metalsmiths, an organization whose purpose is to “channel information about mining issues and encourage jewelers to become informed advocates for social and environmental responsibility.” Through various activities and organizations, Ethical Metalsmiths create positive impact while encouraging collaboration within a traditionally competitive space.
WWAKE and Celine D’Aoust are notable in their sustainable practices, as they work closely with suppliers to ensure the conditions of sourcing and metal mining are as responsible as possible. One can even catch a glimpse of WWake head designer, Wing, checking out her mines in person on the brand’s Instagram account.
The signature matte metals in Rebecca Overmann designs are more than meets the eye – the Earth conscious designer does most of her casting in-house using recycled metals.
Check out our selects below for eco chic shoppers looking for designs that are both design-forward and Earth-friendly!
Gold Peak Solitaire
by Nick Engel
The San Franciscan jeweler uses beautiful, highly graded antique stones in modern settings that give a contemporary twist to historical beauty.
Autumn Dewdrop Branch Necklace
by Luana Coonen
Ethical Metalsmith Luana Coonen never fails to draw inspiration from nature, from diamond rings with butterfly wings to moon textured gold and real lichen immortalized in drop earrings. Here, her dewdrop branch necklace twinkles with a post consumer diamond in recycled 14k yellow gold.
The ultimate in sustainability, buying heirloom stones has no environmental impact, as they have simply been passed down from generations prior.
Diamond Slice Earrings
TAP by Todd Pownell
Todd Pownell is an Ethical Metalsmith who also takes naturally occurring forms as the impetus for much of his work. Todd is always mindful that "Noble metals and gemstones are beautiful not only because of sheen or lustrous color but in their ultimate molecular structure, as examples and reminders of a universal order."
Yellow Quartz Necklace
by Lauren Wolf
Lauren often incorporates rutilated quartz into her designs. Rutilation is a natural process where the mineral rutile combines with metamorphic rock to create needle- thin inclusions that reflect light. Many included stones are considered undesirable, but rutilated quartz is fast becoming a chic addition to the semi-precious spectrum, and Lauren is helping to popularize this beaming phenomenon.
by Melissa Joy Manning
Melissa is a designer devoted to responsible sourcing. She is meticulous in her use of scrap metal and endeavors to use stones that are sourced directly form responsible miners.