By: Lia Terni
Have You Thought About It?
Years ago, I was struck by the thought of where everything we have surrounding us in our lives, actually comes from.
At the time, I was working as a fashion consultant for a company in Spain. In supporting other jewelry brands in development of their collections, I realized there was little to no regards on the process with all focus being on the end product. No one seemed concerned in the details of who or what may be affected along the way during production.
What I began to notice was startling. Massive production goals, unhealthy work spaces, unsustainable material sources, and many stories of exploitation all for the sake of obtaining precious materials, known as THE NEW MODERN LUXURY.
Have you ever stopped and questioned what LUXURY is to you?
Cultured, traveled, educated, conscious, active, healthy people like most of us reading this article. People concerned with GMO food, pesticides, Global Warming. You know, the ones that read labels, and wear stylish yoga pants, made by hand by someone earning less than twenty cents an hour, using the most synthetic material, colored with toxic synthetic dyes. (The textile dyeing and finishing industry is one of the most chemically intensive industries on earth, and the number one polluter of clean water after agriculture).
To some extent, we are all exposed to this.
The purpose of this article is not to make us feel guilty, but to make us THINK more about everything that we produce and consume.
In my personal experience as a jewelry designer, I got to a point where creating “beauty” was not enough anymore, unless I had beautiful stories to tell about the creation as well. After all, the jewelry business can and should be protective of the environment and the people that it touches (both creator and end user).
I wanted to ensure small scale miners and their communities were paid fair wages, with fair labor practices (absolutely no child labor), and that they were trained in more sustainable extraction methods with no chemicals added to the water used. (Fun fact: In a multi million dollar industry, small scale miners are 30 million people living with less than 1 dollar a day and making 15% of the world gold extraction in terrible working conditions). I no longer wanted to be a part of this.
It is our responsibility as jewelry makers, to protect and preserve the beautiful stories.
I moved to the U.S. a little over a year ago, and as a designer I’m a social observer. It’s impressive to me, this Whole Foods phenomenon. Inside the crisp stores of this organic grocer and health supplement purveyor, is one of the few places that I’ve witnessed people reading labels and asking where products come from, and how they are produced.
It is perplexing to me that this same inquisitive and informed population usually does not expand that behavior when the subject is related to clothes, shoes, bags or jewelry.
The only way to change this reality is if WE, as consumers, ask for fully transparent and traceable supply chains for what we consume. It is fully in our hands.
It is time we redefine the meaning of TRUE LUXURY and bring it back to it's purest form. It should always tell a beautiful story, from beginning to end.