WEND Jewelry creates sustainable jewelry. A commitment to the environment and human rights is at the core of every decision we make at WEND Jewelry.
Ethical jewelry brands must offer full transparency and explanations for their sourcing choices, which we are proud to do at WEND Jewelry. Sustainable jewelry is our foundation, not an afterthought.
At WEND Jewelry, we create sustainable jewelry by personally sourcing the metals, gemstones, and packaging, considering the environmental, labor, and societal impact of every resource we use.
Our WEND Jewelry studio is working towards a zero-waste model, becoming the first Enviro-Star certified Jewelry brand in Washington State. We make your jewelry as you order it, reducing resources and waste. Sustainable jewelry production is our heart and soul.
Metal makes up the majority of our jewelry, so let’s start there.
Newly-mined gold is often devastating for the environment. Gold mining accounts for much of the burning and destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest, vast amounts of mercury contamination, cyanide-poisoned waterways and communities, human rights abuses including the subjugation of women and even outright slavery. We firmly believe that sustainable jewelry starts with sustainable metal, and that ethical jewelry brands begin the journey there.
At WEND Jewelry, we use a combination of Certified Recycled Gold and Fairmined Gold for our sustainable jewelry. There are only a few SCS (Scientific Certification System) Certified Gold recycling facilities in the United States, and the majority of our gold comes from one of them. Here is more about the SCS Certification process.
In the rare event that we are unable to use Certified Recycled Gold, as sometimes happens with gold chain, we use Fairmined Gold. Fairmined is an assurance label that certifies gold from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations who meet standards for responsible mining practices.
Our sustainable jewelry steers clear of newly mined ore as much as possible. The world has more than enough gold out of the ground to meet our needs, but because gold is so expensive, there will always be a market for newly mined gold, no matter what the environmental cost.
For our sustainable jewelry, we choose to re-use. We can even melt your heirloom gold into your new WEND Jewelry.
Ethical jewelry brands must carefully consider which gemstones they use in order to construct sustainable jewelry. Consequently, WEND does not buy gemstones from 99% of the suppliers we come into contact with.
If we aren’t certain of a gemstone’s provenance, cutting, polishing, and journey through the supply chain, we do not purchase it.
We don’t intend to make gemstone suppliers uncomfortable with our long list of questions. But we need to understand their stance on child labor, slavery, worker fatalities, vulnerability of women in the mines, and the gem cutting and polishing practices that put lives in danger. Sustainable jewelry can be uncomfortable - no apologies.
Cutting and polishing colored gemstones is a life or death issue. When proper equipment isn't utilized, the result can be silicosis (a deadly lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust). The first 4 minutes of this video show how this disease plays out in India, a major cutting center for colored gemstones. Sustainable jewelry design must take cutting and polishing of the gems seriously.
The most serious issues in the mining of colored gemstones usually concern human rights abuses. However, ethical jewelry brands should have an equally long list of questions about impacts to the environment.
How much does the mining disturb the land when they mine the ore? Do they use explosives to create the underground mines? Do they re-plant the land after cutting down the trees which are in their way? Creating truly sustainable jewelry is truly uncomfortable at times.
colored gemstone sourcing
1. Certified Fairtrade from the most renowned ethical supplier in the US, Columbia Gem House.
2. Mines in the US (preferred) or in countries with enforced environmental and labor standards such as Australia and Canada.
3. Artisanal and Small-Scale mines which prioritize human rights and the environment. The main way this happens is if the mines are run by women (very rare, but the movement is underway).
4. Post-Consumer Recycled Color Gemstones – When we buy clients’ gold, we also buy their gemstones. We love to find ways to re-use them for our sustainable jewelry, as they are usually in perfect shape and have a story of their own to tell.
5. Family mines when we know and stand behind the history and provenance of the gemstones.
6. Your gemstones. We love to re-imagine your fine jewelry into modern heirlooms!
Sustainable jewelry practices (and ethical jewelry brands) need to prioritize diamonds. Originating deep within the Earth, diamonds are often found in the most vulnerable communities around the globe.
Like gold, the mining of diamonds can be devastating to the environment, the miners, and their communities.
Since the Blood Diamond days of the early 2000’s, laws (namely the Kimberley Process) have been enacted to improve standards.
However, human rights abuses continue in atrocious ways, and sadly, "Conflict-free" doesn't mean what it says.
The definitions are way too narrow. The Kimberly Process only covers diamonds used by rebel groups to finance conflict aimed at overthrowing governments.
This completely misses diamonds associated with armed groups who are not fighting governments, or military exploitation for personal gain, or violence committed by government or private security forces against people at or near mining areas, or widespread environmental damage that undermines local health and livelihoods.
If you’d like to dive deeper, check out this 32-page report by the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, titled “Real Care is Rare”. It is an eye-opening, well-researched document detailing the situation in diamond mining as of September, 2019.
1. Post-Consumer Recycled Diamonds (Heritage Diamonds):
We buy diamonds for our sustainable jewelry that have lived a previous life.
In this category, we have delicious and eye-catching options: sometimes they are quite old and have an Old European Cut, sometimes they are re-fashioned to a Rose Nouveau cut, and sometimes they have a Round Brilliant Cut.
2. Canadian and Australian Diamonds:
The rustic diamonds (diamonds with inclusions used in our sustainable jewelry, sometimes called Salt + Pepper) mostly come from Canada or Australia.
Most rustic diamonds on the market come from Africa. At this time, there is no good way to ensure that human rights abuses and environmental destruction are not part of the equation.
WEND Jewelry uses ethically sourced diamonds where slavery is not an issue, where laws are enforced, and where mining's inevitable environmental destruction is mitigated.
3. US or European made Lab-Grown Diamonds:
Lab grown diamonds eliminate the need to dig them out of the earth.
However, not all lab grown diamonds are created equal. Labor and human rights standards are not readily enforced in the most common lab-grown diamond-producing countries. As a result, basement sweatshops and child-labor violations are common.
WEND only uses lab-grown diamonds from countries that enforce labor and environmental standards.
Questions to ask
If you are shopping around, here are some questions to ask prospective stores, jewelry companies, and jewelry designers.
Change in the jewelry industry for sustainable fashion starts with you. Jewelry should bring nothing but joy, and least of all, harm.
1. Where was this piece of jewelry fabricated?
2. Was child labor involved in the supply chain of this piece?
3. Where does the metal in this piece come from?
4. Is the metal either post-consumer recycled metals or Fairmined metals?
5. What do you know about the origin of the gemstone?
6. Do you know what mine the gemstone came from?
7. Do you have a personal connection to the mine?
8. Where and under what circumstances were the gemstones cut and polished?
9. If you didn't make these pieces of jewelry, do you know who did? Did they have access to a living wage, safety gear, and ventilation?
10. Will any percentage of the purchase price of this jewelry benefit the environment, human rights, or animal welfare?
P.S. WEND supports an alignment of definitions when it comes to an ethical jewelry practice. We love the Jewelry Glossary Project for that reason.