These guys are big on pumping the heart-shaped jewellery, but mining activists have little love for the sourcing policies of Peoples’ parent company, Signet, the world’s largest jewellery corporation and owner of Zales, Kay and Mappins diamond stores. Signet says it’s committed to responsible sourcing, but IndustriALL Global Union, Earthworks and London Mining Network all say that’s not possible as long as the jewellery giant is getting gold and diamonds from mining company Rio Tinto, which they call “a notorious violator of labour rights, communities and the environment.” If you want to go mainstream, the orgs say you’re better off buying from Birks or Tiffany.
Jewellery that comes in a Walmart box may not be the way to go if you want to impress your lover, but I’ve got to hand it to the discount giant for carrying a large selection of recycled jewellery. Pure EcoJewellery is made (mostly in China) with certified 100 per cent recycled sterling silver and generally uses man-made cubic zirconium, aka fake diamonds. So technically the “no mining necessary” claim holds true except for those pieces that contain genuine diamonds. Like many brands, Pure says its are conflict-free but doesn’t offer any certification. Even if it did, mining activists will tell you that claim doesn’t mean all that much.
Montreal-made Cinderella Garbage is taking trash to new heights, crafting gems by compressing and vitrifying waste to turn it into hard “black diamonds.” Like cubic zirconium and other synthetic gems, it’s made in an energy-intensive process. However, Cinderella says its processor, Pyrogenesis, captures all gases given off to make it a net energy producer (without releasing any dioxins or furans into the environment). Too bad the silver and gold in the collection aren’t yet recycled, but kudos for figuring out a creative new way to keep junk out of landfill. You can order “black diamond” rings, pendants and, yes, black hearts from cinderellagarbage.com.
Regular readers of this column will know I’m a big fan of Me to We. This social enterprise gives half its profits to the non-profit development organization Free the Children. The jewellery is fair trade, made in Kenya from recycled brass. Plus, if you buy a pair of earrings, you’ll also be buying a school lunch for a child in need. Some jewellery pieces provide clean water or prenatal classes for moms-to-be in the developing world. There are plenty of feel-good jewellery options for dudes, too. Available at Me To We store on Carlton and metowe.com.
Does your lover get a heart-on for all things vintage? If you want to see me swoon, just buy me some locally upcycled jewellery made from old rescued bits. A growing number of seriously talented designers are working with vintage finds to craft gorgeous new pieces. On top of reworking pre-loved objects, Salvage Co. uses recycled silver in some items. Green Bijou does a lot of bigger vintage statement pieces, but both brands craft options for men and women. Available online (salvagejewelryco.com and greenbijou.com) as well as at Made You Look and Coal Miner’s Daughter.