Elena Adams is a jewelry designer who is selling a custom made necklace specifically to raise money for the Best Friends Animal Society. The necklace is, “Smokey quartz and iolite pair with sterling silver chain.” Until August 31st, she will donate all proceeds from the sales to the animal protection organization. Each necklace sold generates 20 dollars for the Best Friends Society, says her website. Below is an interview with Elena about her jewelry designs, and green jewelry.
What caused you to want to do an animal fundraiser?
I try to work on one major charity effort each year, and I like to use the visibility I have to help promote organizations that speak to me. This year I chose the Best Friends Animal Society. Animals have always been a very important part of my life – I’ve always had pets, and my parents taught me that having great respect for all animals would ultimately make me a kinder and better person. I specifically chose Best Friends because of their commitment to helping even the most hopeless cases, treating and finding homes for animals that anyone else would see as beyond rescue.
Do you think it could be a regular thing?
In the past I’ve focused on auctioning single, high-end pieces of jewelry. With consumers still reeling after the economic decline they are less able to contribute in large ways. I suspected that more people would be open to giving in smaller ways, and if this is a success, I’ll definitely be using this method in the future. If there is great demand for this kind of giving opportunity, I will even consider keeping a single, benefit item on my website in a more permanent way.
What kind of materials do you use in your designs typically?
I love working with sterling silver and semi-precious gemstones, and my favorite stones are garnet, iolite and sapphire. I specialize in chain maille: rings linked together into woven chains, and I like to find delicate ways to express this classic technique.
What animal issues are you interested in?
I was raised to believe that animals really aren’t that different to humans and should be protected against human greed and laziness. The impact of cities spreading is not ever going to change, so we need to figure out how we will save and preserve the earth’s animals. I’m also highly concerned with the treatment of the creatures we adopt as pets. They should be part of the family, and lead rich and wonderful lives. To think that people buy pets on a whim, ignore their needs until they become problematic, and then dump them in shelters breaks my heart.
Are there environmentally friendly materials for jewelry design?
I’m not a big fan of the upcycle movement, but I’m looking forward to seeing designers learn to incorporate old items in exciting ways. Right now upcycling jewelers make that the focus, and I feel like that lets the designs down, but there is huge potential there. Jewelers should try to buy locally when possible, and work with vendors who are clear about where their materials come from. By making little decisions, like selecting colored gemstones over diamonds, and using lab-created precious gems, they can have a huge impact on the market.
What kind of environmental issues are related to jewelry?
The green movement has been so popular that no industry is beyond scrutiny, and with more information coming out about how mineral and metal mining has affected poor countries, jewelers are having to make important decisions that they can justify to their clients. The devastating impact of the diamond industry is the most well known of these problems, but the majority of craft-lovers and jewelry designers need to educate themselves on where their supplies come from.
What can consumers do to learn more about green jewelry?
Consumers should insist on purchasing from retailers with strong environmental impact statements, and learn as much as they can about the materials used in their jewelry. Much of the attitude toward jewelry will need to change over time, as consumers demand materials from conflict-free zones, and come to terms with alternatives like recycled metals and lab-created gems. The stigma attached to “synthetic” and reused materials is unfounded, and if consumers will come to accept them we can all help to reduce the damage we cause.
Who are some green jewelry designers you admire?
Kris Nations uses recycled metals to create beautiful jewelry components reminiscent of delicate illustrations. Kyler by Joy O uses the classic “reduce, reuse, recycle” concept to guide every creation. Ruff&Cut uses conflict-free, uncut diamonds to make unique jewelry in wonderfully raw styles.
What is in store for green jewelry design’s future?
I hope that consumers will continue to lead the charge on green jewelry. Jewelers need to know that there is real demand for environmentally-conscious creations. Things are already changing, as top designers are starting to look to alternatives to the tried-and-true gold and platinum. By exploring things like sterling silver and colored gemstones it will challenge jewelry-lovers to buy new things, breaking the hold that groups like the diamond industry have on the market.