Why we make sustainable jewellery and why it matters
There’s nothing like your favourite piece of jewellery. A spectacular engagement ring you never take off, the lucky necklace that can swing any job interview, or a showstopper pair of earrings you wear because you KNOW they will wow everyone.
But have you ever thought about where the precious metals in your jewellery came from? Was the miner who mined the silver or gold treated fairly? Were any chemicals that are harmful to the environment used to mine the metals? Who made your jewellery for you? Were they paid a fair wage? What packaging did the jewellery company that you bought it from use?
With sustainability at the forefront of many people’s minds, there’s a lot to think about whenever you buy something new, and jewellery's no different. But we can answer the questions above with confidence, because over the past couple of years, we’ve made some changes to our business to make our products more sustainable.
What is sustainable jewellery anyway?
We define sustainable jewellery as products that have had a minimal impact on the planet in each stage of the production process, from mining, to manufacture, packaging and shipping.
We love creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery, but we love our world too, and we wanted to find a way to make jewellery that doesn’t come at the expense of the environment. We’re not perfect, but we’re always working on new ways to make our jewellery more sustainable and ensure it leaves as small a footprint on the world around us as possible.
Here are 5 reasons why buying a piece of Jana Reinhardt jewellery won’t cost the earth:
- Our brand is anti-fast fashion:
As with so many environmental problems, overconsumption is a major driver of the jewellery industry’s negative impact on our world. Did you know the average 40-year-old woman owns over £6,000 worth of jewellery? Including £3,000 worth which she will never wear? And much of this is costume jewellery, often worn just a handful of times before being thrown away.
The gold and silver plating on cheap jewellery can quickly fade leaving the greenish-tinged base metal exposed. You fall out of love with it, chuck it in the bin and it ends up in landfill. The metal and plastic don’t biodegrade and end up releasing toxins into the air and water.
This is just one of the reasons why we don’t gold plate our jewellery anymore. Opting for a piece made from sterling silver and solid gold means they can be polished if they tarnish. So, they won’t ever permanently discolour, and you’ll never need to get rid of them. Also, the processes involved in plating can be harmful to the environment, and us!
As a brand, Jana Reinhardt has always been about making thoughtful, inspired jewellery rather than throwaway fashion-led items. Our intention is to create forever pieces that you’ll want to wear on repeat.
Our price points might seem expensive compared to some mass-market brands, but that’s because we make everything by hand using traditional techniques. You’re buying jewellery made with superior craftsmanship and materials, you really do get what you pay for!
- We only use recycled precious metals:
The mining of precious metals is associated with all kinds of damage to the environment. Some of the chemicals used during mining can pollute the air, and metal mining requires massive amounts of water, which can damage local ecosystems and indigenous populations. Mining might also cause soil erosion and releases a large volume of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
Then there’s the human cost of mining: many workers aren’t paid a fair wage and are forced to work in unsafe conditions. An estimated one million children are working in mines around the world, inhaling dust and dangerous chemicals which damage their health. Entire communities can be displaced when mines are established. The negative effects go on, and on.
Before we started using recycled precious metals, we always tried to ensure that the gold, silver, and platinum we bought came from reputable suppliers who could vouch for the origins of the metal they sold us. But transparency is extremely difficult to achieve. Raw materials can often be mined in one country and are then processed in lots of different locations.
That’s why we now exclusively use recycled metals, from suppliers certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, rather than take the risk that the metals we make our jewellery from have exploited people or the environment.
If you buy something silver or gold from us, you can feel reassured that the precious metals haven't been freshly mined to create your jewellery: we guarantee there is zero newly mined metal in our pieces. Buying recycled precious metals means you are re-using a resource that’s already out in the world. Plus, recycled metals don’t require the use of cyanide solvents to separate them and aren’t associated with environmentally damaging processes. Phew!
- We pay attention to packaging:
When you buy new jewellery, it’s not just your ring, necklace or bracelet that can have an impact on the world. The pretty box, soft foam pad keeping everything in place, and the bubble wrap it’s been packed in can all have negative effects on the environment too.
Have you heard that 40% of the total plastic used in the world is attributable to packaging? Most of it ends up in landfill, where it can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade. Some plastics will never break down and we’re stuck with them forever.
8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into oceans every year. Plastic pollution threatens wildlife, alters ecosystems, and poses risks to human health. It’s estimated most humans have microplastics in their lungs. Microplastics were detected in the ice caps in Antarctica for the first time in 2022, a worrying sign.
This is why our jewellery boxes are made from 100% recyclable card and paper. There are no plastic/foam pads, ribbons, or cushions in our boxes. We use vegan felt pads in our packaging instead, which sit on a folded card that is cut locally for us. We then pack the box with tissue paper.
Our cartons and printed materials are all 100% recyclable, and we even use recyclable paper tape. Our gift-wrapping ribbon is now made from bamboo. This means we’re 100% plastic free – hurrah!
- We’re watching our carbon footprint:
Everything we do has an impact on the CO2 in the atmosphere, from the air we breathe as we work on your piece of jewellery, to the electricity used to power our tools, and the fuel used by the delivery van that brings you your jewellery.
It’s impossible to counterbalance the carbon created by these activities entirely, but we’re very mindful of it, so last year we decided to join Ecologi. Ecologi plant trees to reduce carbon pollution and fund climate projects across the globe. In just over 3 years, Ecologi has planted 44.9 million trees and reduced 2.1 million tonnes of CO2e.
Whenever we sell a piece of jewellery, we plant a tree with Ecologi. This means that every time you buy something from us, we’re taking steps to offset the carbon created when we make your jewellery and ship it to you.
So far, we’ve planted 410 trees with Ecologi. Each of which will help to absorb some of the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Planting trees is also part of a wider reforesting effort, which is crucial to protect and restore wildlife habitats and save more animal and plant species from extinction. Click here to find out more about Ecologi and see how many trees we’ve planted now.
Plus - as Vegans, we’re 100% plant-powered. So, the food we eat to fuel ourselves has much less of a CO2 footprint than meat eaters. High-five!
- Our brand gives back:
As well as making our jewellery as sustainable as possible, we made a choice a couple of years ago to use our jewellery skills to help charities and causes that were important to us.
The Animal Wellbeing collection started life in 2020 with an Orangutan pendant that we created to raise funds and awareness for the brilliant charity OVAID, which sends vets to orangutan rescue groups and centres in Indonesia and Malaysia, and provides veterinary equipment and medicines. For every pendant sold we donate £20 to OVAID - it isn’t megabucks, but it’s a start, and every little helps.
Supporting these organisations means that when you buy from us you aren’t just bagging yourself a gorgeous piece of jewellery, you’re also donating to brilliant charities that are making a difference and helping vulnerable animals.
And remember, whenever you wear your necklace, you’re also opening the door to a conversation about animal rights and encouraging others to think more deeply about the treatment of animals. Jewellery that looks good AND might change someone’s mind about issues that really matter. Double win!