The not so glamorous side of the jewelry industry
Beautiful, shiny, sparkly things – we all love our jewelry. It’s a must wear accessory for special occasions. And, the not so special occasions… it’s amazing how something as simple as a necklace can elevate the most basic of outfits into a stylish look.
But as you may already know, it’s not all glamour and sparkle in the jewelry industry. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll find an industry that is often poorly regulated. Human rights abuses and environmental destruction are common occurrences at the early stages of the supply chain.
This is not something that we tend to think about when we are giving or receiving a beautiful new piece of jewelry. We notice things like the sparkle of the gemstones or how opulent the gold is. It’s only later that we might start to wonder about where the stones or metal came from. And, under what circumstances?
For example, was everyone in the supply chain treated fairly? Or, did a child have to miss going to school because he/she was forced to work in a mine all day or sift through bucket loads of dirt to uncover a precious gemstone.
These are horrible things to think about, but they continue to be a daily reality for hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. In fact, the World Bank estimates that in 2017, approximately 100 million people were involved in small scale artisanal mining. Precious metals and gemstones often come from such operations.
Now, the goal is not to put these people out of business. Quite the opposite. Instead, we need to make sure that they can mine safely, work with dignity, and receive a fair wage. By keeping their fair share of the profits, artisanal miners can reinvest in their businesses and provide their communities with clean water, adequate housing, schools, and all the other necessities for life that we in the Global North take for granted.
The good news is that the jewelry industry is now heading (slower than we’d like) in the right direction. Generation Z and millennials are the most ethically conscious consumer groups that the world has ever seen. And, research conducted by the World Gold Council found that 70% of jewelry buyers want to buy jewelry that was produced ethically. Respondents said that reducing the environmental impact from mining and ensuring safe and fair working conditions for people in the industry were amongst their top concerns.
Therefore, consumer demand for more transparency is creating a whole new niche in the jewelry industry – Ethically Sourced Jewelry. And, it’s a movement that Voguelle is very keen to be a part of. So, make sure you keep in touch with us as we are committed to finding and promoting ethical brands and suppliers. We’ll do so on a regular basis.
For now, check out some of the examples below…
1. Phone Card Dancing Girl Earrings: upcycled by artisans in Kenya from used prepaid phone cards.
2. Wire Bike Earrings: made in Kenya from recycled copper and steel wire.
3. Dancing Girl Santa Earrings: festive joy – handmade by Kenyan artisans from recycled tin cans and copper wire.