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SUSTAINABLE JEWELRY: IMPORTANCE, CHALLENGES, AND REASONS TO BUY

Sustainable jewelry is not a new concept. Some industry professionals have long sought to produce socially responsible and environmentally friendly fashion. However, in recent years, a mainstream push has created more support for the movement, encouraging the development of new fashion brands.

As the frequency of sustainability topics continues to dominate forums, executive offices, dinner tables, etc., consumers are increasingly aware of their impact on the production patterns of fine jewelry makers. Though people often underestimate the effects of their buying habits on shaping the marketplace, buyers hold almost all the power in the retail and fashion industries.

While a growing ethical paradigm exists within the fashion industry, manufacturers still develop products based on profitability. The stronger the push from consumers for sustainable and ethically sourced jewelry, the stronger the motivation to produce such products.

Raising the Demand for Sustainable Jewelry

The "blood diamond" scandal of the 1990s laid bare the fine jewelry industry's appalling track record of sustainability, putting the entire industry, especially the diamond trade, under a microscope. For perhaps the first time, consumers realized the lack of accountability in the industry and the overwhelming and negative impact the trade had on specific countries and communities.

Consumer outrage motivated industry changes, leading to positive shifts in procedures, such as the Kimberley Process, an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to increase oversight and transparency in the diamond industry. Even now, consumer buying habits are curtailing the fine jewelry market; according to reports, sustainability practices will influence 20% to 30% of fine jewelry sales by 2025, roughly $70 billion to $110 billion.

The growing demand for sustainably sourced and ethically produced jewelry is an opportunity for businesses to establish a competitive advantage. In a world becoming more concerned about human rights and the environment, there has never been a more appropriate time to adopt new processes and cater to more ethically responsible consumers.

Creating Sustainable Jewelry

Supply chain transparency is a core aspect of ethical and sustainable production. Most fine jewelry requires the sourcing of precious metals and gems such as diamonds.

Many of the metals and minerals uses in jewelry come from some of the poorest regions on Earth, passing through multiple hands and creating traceability challenges. Some speculate that mining should end, but according to the World Bank, halting all mining practices would adversely affect 100 million people — workers and their families — in these struggling regions.

The goal of jewelers and consumers should focus on the ethical production of jewelry. Artisanal mining is a reliable occupation for many people. Companies and consumers should support mining operations focused on safety and revenue sharing.

Mining revenue should be directed to the communities most affected. The profits can go toward developing clean water sources, schools, and other essential services.

Creating sustainable jewelry is complex, and it demands transparency and diligence from producers and sacrifice and commitment from consumers. Unfortunately, some consumers still need convincing that sustainable options are worth the tradeoff.

 

 

Helping Consumers Embrace the Transition

The fashion industry has a problem with "newness." Fashion built trends and fads on the premise that buying the new "it" style was crucial to fitting in and living a luxury lifestyle. The industry did an excellent job grooming and shaping consumers, but now many scrunch their faces in disgust when asked to embrace practices like upcycling or mending.

One study found the average American household spends about $1,600 annually on jewelry, and another stipulated that the average U.K. woman owns over $7,500 worth of jewelry. The sad truth is most of these jewelry purchases are wear-once costume pieces.

Convincing consumers to purchase sustainable jewelry is about educating them. Brands can support ethical and sustainable purchasing by encouraging human interest and environmental stories. Also, though it goes against core business practices, companies should encourage a "less is more" approach to shopping.

Understanding Jewelry Selection as an Ethical Practice

Consumers ultimately drive demand and business decisions. Future estimates for sustainable options in the jewelry market stand at roughly 30%, meaning about 70% of jewelry sales will still come from questionable sources and practices. Manufacturers, distributors, and customers have a significant role in how the jewelry industry develops from this point forward.

Reasons To Choose Sustainable Options

Consumers should understand the reasons to go for sustainable jewelry over other options. Choosing ethical and sustainably sourced jewelry has personal and global benefits:

  • Value: The techniques for creating sustainable necklaces and other jewelry can increase upfront costs, but the pieces are more durable than traditional pieces. Also, these pieces are more versatile, allowing for more frequent use, unlike many costume options.
  • Fairness: People can get caught up in the environmental impact of jewelry production but ignore the workers. Sustainable production is about paying fair prices for production, meaning those workers involved in the early mining stages get access to higher wages.
  • Environmental Impact: Sustainable jewelers focus on reducing the environmental impact at every production stage, from sourcing to distribution. The ecological effect is among the top reasons people choose sustainable options.
  • Economic Influence: Local businesses and artisans are the sources of many sustainable designs. Supporting local sellers supports the local community. Ensure that most of the money you spend goes to the artist or producer of the piece.
  • Mental Health: Environmental and humanitarian crises cause significant stress, especially among people who feel helpless to influence change. Buying sustainable products is one way to show support for ethical and sustainable production practices, and it can positively affect your own mental state.

Making the Ethical and Sustainable Jewelry Choice

Sustainability and ethical practices are not new concepts in the fashion industry, including the jewelry market. While organizations, consumers, and businesses pushed for years to make significant changes, environmental challenges and publicity of humanitarian crises encouraged a considerable consumer and regulatory shift.

Today, many fashion companies are creating sustainable designs. While educating consumers remains a top priority, the arrival of new brands with humanitarian and environmental motivations is encouraging.

Founded in 2020, Polite Worldwide is a fashion brand dedicated to collaboration, connectivity, and compassion. The founders want to create products that encourage consciousness as a lifestyle by promoting sustainable luxury. Visit Polite Worldwide and purchase a piece of sustainable jewelry to complement your outfit and core values.

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