Recently, we’ve all started seeing claims of “sustainable” or “ethical” on mass-produced items from jeans to plastic bottles. I always want to know more. Do these businesses follow through on those claims or is it another example of “greenwashing?”

As the owner of Aperta Jewelry, I promise to be open about what aspects of the company are sustainable and ethical (earth and human friendly). I am always open to learning more and shifting our practices over time.

I attended the Chicago Sustainable Jewelry Conference last year (virtually, of course), which was eye-opening and informative. Among all the specific details I learned was one broader ethos that stuck with me… the biggest thing we can do, as a company providing a consumer product, is BE TRANSPARENT. Talk about what we are doing, what we are trying, as well as areas we know we can improve. Only with this openness will the jewelry industry become a more ethical and sustainable one. This was a huge relief to me, as it was said with inclusivity and forgiveness. I had been worried that there would be a culture of competition in the conference; instead, they invited everyone in with the understanding that no one is perfect and there are different ways of moving toward the same goal. It goes along with the philosophy of “done is better than perfect”- we all need to start somewhere. The biggest change will come about through honesty and transparency of our actions.

With that in mind, let me share Aperta Jewelry’s biggest commitments to sustainability and ethicality, in list form for easy reading:

  1. All gemstones are either sourced from ethical companies guidelines or (in the case of my one-of-a-kind pieces) from my gemstone inventory that has accumulated over the years. These gems don’t always have traceable origins, but they are already here so I believe should be used and enjoyed. “Ethical” means that the miners and gemstone cutters work in safe conditions and are paid fairly. Our two main gem suppliers are Columbia Gem House and Gemstones Brazil.
  2. The metals for our cast sculptural components and pendants are sourced from recycled silver and gold. My main metal suppliers are Stuller (for raw materials) and my family-run casting company Art Tech Casting.
  3. We are designing all-paper packaging and shipping materials so they can be easily and fully recycled in the paper bin. No Plastic!
  4. All our jewelry is made either by Tossy herself or by local artisans being paid fair wages for high quality hand-made work, supporting the local creative economy.

In the spirit of transparency, I also want to mention a few aspects of Aperta that can hopefully be improved in the future. Our chains have silver and gold of unknown origin… this is simply because we can not find a supplier that sells certified recycled metal chains. This is a hole in the jewelry industry that needs filling, if anyone reading this wants to embark on a (very big) new venture! Our gemstones, although ethically produced, are still mined and often shipped from far-off lands, although I do offer some USA-mined stones. There is no getting around the fact that metal and gems come from the earth and must be taken out in order to use them. I do wrestle with the very concept of creating a consumer luxury product. Does the world need this? Do I need to use the earth’s precious resources to make a living?

Usually I can bring myself around to answering those questions with a yes, and here’s why: if every company used the same ethos (creating goods by hand, at a small scale, utilizing responsible production sources), we would not be in the pickle we’re in today. We will never grow beyond what these values can support, even if that means putting a ceiling on profits. Aperta Jewelry will support our customers with the knowledge that their Gems of Intention can be worn with pride and confidence in their production.

Thank you for reading! This is bound to be one of the most information-filled (but hopefully not too dry) journal entries but it is foundational to me and important to share.

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