Ethics & Sustainability
Are your products vegan-friendly?Being a vegan myself, offering vegan-friendly products is, obviously, very important to me. Guaranteeing that all your materials are vegan-friendly can be tricky sometimes, though, as animal-derived components can hide in places where you wouldn’t expect them. Veganism is a journey, and I am still learning more every day. So, here is an overview of my products and their levels of vegan-friendliness, to the best of my knowledge. Where the answer is not the resounding “YES” I’d like it to be yet, please rest assured that I am constantly working on finding alternatives to make all my products as Earth-conscious as possible. If you have any questions or suggestions, I welcome considerate feedback any time – please get in touch.
Watercolour ArtInk: Yes.
Brushes used: Yes.
“Golden Magic” Animal Portraits
Brushes used: Yes.
Schmincke Aqua Bronze: Yes.
Ink: Very, very likely.
Paper: Very, very likely.
My printers are currently working on finding out whether their papers and inks are 100% vegan-friendly. They strongly believe that they are but don’t want to give a cast-iron guarantee unless they have the confirmation in black and white from their manufacturers.
Thread: Yes (instead of silk, I use nylon cord).
Metal: The metal itself, yes, as far as I know. However, animal-derived products may have been used during the mining, casting and plating processes. Also, with the lack of regulations in the industry (see further below), it is currently, frustratingly, impossible to guarantee how all the humans in the supply chain have been treated – which should also be an important consideration since we are animals, too. I am educating myself more on this every day and am working on improving this.
Crystal beads: The beads themselves, yes, as far as I know. However, animal-derived products may have been used during the mining, cutting and polishing processes. The situation is similar to that of metal mining, and I am working hard on finding solutions.
Are your crystal beads ethically and sustainably sourced?
As mentioned above, the gemstone mining industry is very complex and far from perfect, and transparency in supply chains is not always given. I am learning more about the various issues linked to mining every day. Using ethically and sustainably sourced crystals is extremely important to me, so, to start with, I only work with a handful of selected suppliers who share my values. I want to make sure that we treat our planet and any workers that play a part in getting these beautiful gifts from nature to me and, eventually, you with respect and gratitude. I believe there is a lot more that we all can do to improve the working conditions of the involved workers as well as the impact mining inevitably has on the planet. As a consumer, you have the power to make a stance by showing your demand for ethically and sustainably sourced and produced jewellery. As a business, there is always more that can be done as well. So, I am continuously educating myself on what I can do to be a contribution to positive change in the industry and always strive for improvement. Like with sustainability in general, or veganism, it is a journey and a process: first, you recognise and acknowledge the issue; then, you set your intention for creating change; and then, you embark on your journey of making a positive difference. My vision is to produce Earth-conscious and, at the same time, beautiful products for you to enjoy. I am currently working towards creating transparent supply chains (which takes time), so that I can tell you with complete confidence where exactly each component I use has been sourced, cut and polished and how many hands it’s gone through before it reaches you. Currently, even though plenty of suppliers of beads claim their beads are ethically and sustainably sourced, in most cases, unfortunately, they cannot provide mine-to-market traceability.
Just to give you an idea of the aspects I am looking into when working on establishing transparent supply chains (you might want to keep these questions in mind when buying crystal jewellery in general): Does the supplier know where the beads were mined? Were the beads sold legally? Does the supplier support sustainable practices and treat their miners fairly (wages & working conditions)? How and where were the beads cut? Beads can either be cut by machine or by hand. Hand-cutting beads is labour-intensive, so, usually, it is done by extremely poor workers. Even if beads are machine-cut, the process still creates a lot of dust that needs to be controlled, which means specific, costly equipment is needed to keep workers safe. If it isn't and the dust is breathed in, it causes silicosis, a lethal lung disease. So, you can imagine that, when beads are cut in a safe environment, where workers also receive fare wages, they cost much more. Unfortunately, only very few beads are produced in a safe fashion and most are cut under extremely poor working conditions.
When I started making my beaded necklaces and bracelets, I had no idea of the complexities of the industry. I thought, if I just asked potential suppliers if their materials were ethically and sustainably sourced and they said yes, that would be fine. But I soon realised things were a lot more complex than that. Of course, you could think that it might, then, be best to simply boycott all mined products, but, as I describe below in What can you tell me about the silver and gold you use for your jewellery?, this, inadvertently, could cause even more harm. Also, considering people are unlikely to stop purchasing jewellery, wouldn't it be better to provide them with beautiful responsibly made alternatives?
Luckily, there are initiatives like the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, Christina T. Miller Consulting and Ethical Metalsmiths, to name but a few, who are working hard on creating a more responsible jewellery industry.
So, even though I can't quite give you the answer I would love to just yet, I hope you can see that this is a matter very close to my heart and that I am working very hard on ensuring my jewellery is ethical, fair and sustainable.
What can you tell me about the silver and gold you use for your jewellery?
Similar to my crystal beads, it is important to me to only use metals stemming from reputable sources. Due to the lack of regulations in the industry, however, it is currently, in most cases, not easy to guarantee that everything is a 100% ethically and sustainably sourced. Every day, I am learning more about the complexity of the mining industry and its impacts on the lives of humans and animals as well as the environment. Precious-metal mining brings with it many problems that are also, but not only, very problematic from a vegan perspective. It is linked to the destruction of habitats, mercury pollution and the exploitation of humans. Yet, many communities around the world also rely on mining as the only way of providing for their families. So, simply boycotting mined products might inadvertently cause those humans more suffering and force them to partake in illegal activities. It is a very complex issue, and, of course, we’d all prefer easy answers. Unfortunately, I don’t have those at the moment. My first step is to only source my metal pieces (charms, spacer beads etc.) from a couple of suppliers I trust and who share my values. But there is always more that can be done, and I am continuously educating myself on what I can do to be a contribution to positive change in the industry and keep striving for improvement in my supply chains. A part of my proceeds from each sold piece of jewellery also goes to a selection of responsible-jewellery initiatives, such as the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, Amazon Aid Foundation or Better Without Mercury. In terms of the materials themselves, I only use sterling or argentium silver and gold vermeil or gold-filled pieces. Those are of a higher quality and longer lasting than silver- or gold-plated pieces.
Is your jewellery handmade?
Using carefully selected materials from all over the world, I put together all my jewellery pieces in my little studio in London, UK. For more information on the nature of the materials that I use, please see the points above.
Do you use recycled paper for your art?
Art prints: For some, yes. All my newer art prints are printed on eco-friendly recycled, FSC-certified paper, whereas my older art prints are “only” printed on FSC-certified paper. Going forward, all my newer prints will be printed on recycled, FSC-certified paper.
Greeting Cards: Yes.
Custom art: Not yet. The paper I currently use is FSC-certified and made from 100% cellulose. However, I am looking into alternatives.
Is your product packaging eco-friendly?
Making my packaging as eco-friendly as possible is very important to me. Wherever possible, I reduce plastic. Most of my packaging is recyclable and often made from recycled materials. Wherever my packaging still contains plastic, I am constantly looking into more eco-friendly alternatives. If you have any suggestions, I welcome kind feedback any time – please get in touch.