When I decided to make jewelry making my career, I knew that in order to be happy I would have to create my business in alignment with my personal values. Creating jewelry that is eco-friendly was (and is) my top priority.
Precious metal mining is an extremely destructive process. According to the New York Times, to retrieve just one ounce of gold from the earth, 30 tons of rock is removed and processed with toxic cyanide (yuck!), which separates the gold from the host rock. And unfortunately, this statistic is only going up as gold and other precious metals become more and more rare, requiring more host rock to be processed to retrieve only small amounts of metals. Beyond environmental impact, I'm also concerned about human rights abuses that may be happening where mining is prevalent.
Thankfully, a company I was introduced to through my education at North Bennet Street School allows me to make my dream of socially-conscious eco-friendly jewelry a reality.
Hoover & Strong is a refinery in Virginia that provides recycled sterling and fine silver, gold, and platinum with their Harmony Metals line. They have gone through an extensive certification process to prove all of their precious Harmony Metals are indeed recycled. Hoover & Strong have made a great video on YouTube about their Harmony Metals if you'd like to learn more.
I purchase ALL of my raw metals from Hoover & Strong's Harmony Metals line, which includes many different sizes of wire and sheet that I use to hand fabricate all Beryllina jewelry.
If I am making a necklace that requires a chain thinner than the chain I make by hand, there are four thin Harmony Metals machine-made chains that Hoover & Strong carries. I select from these four options and disregard the non-Harmony options, as I want to ensure that my work is made with only recycled metals. This necklace called "Crimson", featuring a raw garnet crystal mined in New Hampshire, has a Harmony Metals machine-made chain.
You may have noticed that all of my necklaces have a handmade hook and eye clasp, rather than a typical "lobster claw" or "spring ring" clasp. This was actually was born out of necessity! Though Hoover & Strong do supply the typical clasps I've mentioned, they are not part of their Harmony Metals line, and therefore are not certified recycled. Because of this, I was inspired to make my own clasps, which I now adore and are a signature part of my work! I make them in two sizes, a smaller one for the machine-made chain (like in the photo above) and a larger one for the chain I hand weave, which you can see on this necklace called "Swell" featuring Gary Green Jasper from Nevada:
I am so grateful for Hoover & Strong's Harmony Metals...without them, I would not be able to make jewelry that aligns with my personal values of environmentalism and living sustainably. If you want to learn more about the efforts I make to create sustainable eco-friendly jewelry, check out my BeryGREENa page!
Is living sustainably important to you? What steps do you take to align your career with your personal environmental values?