Building a sustainable studio, Part 1: Stones, stones, stones!
Happy Earth Day 2019!
Ever wonder what it means when you see "eco-conscious jewelry"? It's okay to wonder! With so many things these days that are green, recycled, up-cycled, eco-friendly, etc., etc., it can be confusing to know what is really happening behind the scenes, and I don't want you to think I am just a person who slapped some popular words on my website.
To me, eco-conscious means that I am being conscientious of practices for everything that goes into making a piece of jewelry from start to finish. That means everything from sourcing the stones and metals to creating the pieces in an efficient way and then getting them safely shipped to their (hopefully) excited new owners. In this 3-part blog series, I'll share with you my efforts and my goals to do my part in protecting the earth.
To me, eco-conscious means that I am being conscientious
of practices for everything that goes into making
a piece of jewelry from start to finish.
Sourcing stones then: When I started out making jewelry, I honestly didn't put much thought into where all these beads had come from. I bought them from various dealers at local bead and stone shows that would pass through Cincinnati and I amassed quite a pile! I have always been what my family calls a tree-hugger (usually accompanied with an eye-roll), so it's pretty out-of-character for me. I guess I got caught up in all of the sparkle and getting to see these gorgeous gemstones in such quantities that I didn't think to concern myself with sourcing. No excuses, and, I can assure you, I carry quite a bit of guilt about it now.
Sourcing stones now: When I started making yearly trips to Tucson and purchasing more cabochons, I started to actually THINK. I think about where the stones come from, who is being affected by their mining and cutting processes, how the environment is affected around the mines, etc. It is a little heavy, right? I mean, I'm just trying to make pretty jewelry. But, I can't let it go like that.
The good news is I am not the only person who thinks of these things and I am certainly not the first! I started making the conscious effort to seek out stones mined and cut with sustainable practices. I now know a handful of people who own mines, who are there on-site to make sure things are being done correctly, with the least impact to the surrounding areas. They have created jobs and pay their employees fair wages. I purchase a lot of turquoise, white buffalo and wild horse, which are mined here in America, where there are stricter standards for workers and land, and where the stones are easily traceable back to the mines.
I also have relationships with several people who cut the stones that end up in my jewelry, so I get to support other small businesses, which feels really good. Here are a couple pics from my 2018 buying Tucson buying trip, hanging with my jewelry-making friend Richelle and some of our favorite stone miners, cutters and sellers:
Left to right, Richelle (Richelle Belle Jewelry), Sue (Broken River Mining) and me (Theresa). Photo credit: Richelle Schmitz
Left to right, Tom (tbeneze), me (Theresa), Richelle (Richelle Belle Jewelry), and Eric (CactusYogi). Photo credit: Richelle Schmitz
Next up: Building the jewelry.