It’s always great when a pop song is the first thing that comes to mind when you’ve been asked to write a guide to good jewelry. “Gold! Always believe in your soul. You’ve got the power to know. You’re indestructible, oh, always believing.”
What-oh-what can you wish for this year if you have been good? Really good? Gold? Yes but. More on that but later. Diamonds? Nah. You have to be a villain to wear diamonds anymore. What? You didn’t know that? Well I’m here to help you out, to help you remain a good soul (so that Santa brings you something next year too!), here’s my advice.
NO 1: BUY VINTAGE
You can still feel good about wearing anything old. I’ve had my eye on these old YSL arty rings FOREVER. It’s impossible to choose just one but totally within Santa’s budget. Or check out the surreal pieces made by Delfina Delettrez. (The budget needs to be a bit higher, but Santa, I have been REALLY GOOD. Really.) Check Vestiare Collective or therealreal or 1stdibs for some great finds.
NO 2: LOOK OUT FOR CERTIFICATIONS.
Conventional diamonds come from mining. Mining not only destroys the environment but also it’s a horrible job. You don’t want to wear something that screams human rights abuses, right? Many of the big players have “sustainable” lines now, but it’s difficult to make sure. If the Kimberly Process were actually working, then we would see a big difference in the treatment of miners worldwide. Conflict-diamonds and conflict-gold are still the rule rather than the exception. You’re better off with the small companies, the family-run ones that are doing the actual footwork themselves. There are gems that are being artificially produced. Lab-grown gems such as those that were first used by Cred.
NO 3: LOOK FOR RECYCLED GOLD!
Made-in-Berlin ethical jewelers such as Vieri and Lilian von Trapp are the ones you might already know. Fairtrade silver and gold from Macdesa or Sotrami, for example, which are small-scale mines in Peru are among the certified mines to look out for, also some in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenza. Pioneering fair trade jewelers such as the aforementioned Cred and Vieri’s earthbeat.org have informative websites. Small companies like Sabrina Dehoff who uses a galvanizer in Germany, or Quiet Quiet (both in Berlin) are doing beautiful things as well. Others work directly with artisans: 31bits in Uganda, for example, or Able, for example, who publishes the wages of their lowest paid workers! Purpose Jewelry is made by women survivors of slavery. There is a ton of good stuff out there: fairtrade.net.
NO 4: PUT YOUR HEART INTO IT
Whatever you buy, you realize, will be worth half of what you paid when you walk out the door. The marketing surrounding diamonds, especially, is hyper-inflated. Diamonds are not rare. I repeat: not. They also break. You’d be better off googling the words “vintage finds” on or checking Pinterest and you’ll find famous artisans that are indeed rare, and then put those names into ebay and you might come not just a statement but an exclamation mark piece.
NO 5: EMBRACE YOUR INNER DOLLY PARTON
As Dolly says, “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Remember: You are a diamond. You don’t need one. But if you go for rhinestones, make sure to keep your kids away from your fast-fashion finds. And if you have a “teether” at your breast, keep her/him away from your fake stuff. It’s ok to wear it, but if your baby puts it in their mouths, it’s veritable poison. Much of the cheap stuff has bad things like lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, and weirdly: flame retardants. The latter are also known as hormone disrupters and that’s no good for the mama either.
Trust me. I am a hormonal mess! Probably because of all the funky stuff I load myself down with everyday. I could do with a little less theatre, obviously.