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Product personalization is an asset for many buyers and when it comes to engagement rings the degree of personalization is taken to the highest level as customers seek to design a personalized ring that expresses their love and commitment. deep.
Custom fine jewelry design agency Alexandra Brooke Designs gives this notion a unique and lasting twist by offering customers something that most leading jewelers do not: bespoke designs specializing in recycled or salvaged diamonds and precious metals.
Based in the mountain village of Steamboat Springs, Colorado known as a world-class ski resort destination, founder and lead designer Brooke Lawrence has sought to find creative activity outside of the ski slopes. The pandemic provided the perfect opportunity, opening it up to the artistic world of jewelry making and design. âDoing medical work on the hill in difficult conditions can be overwhelming,â Brooke shares. âAnother job that fosters creativity in a calm and stimulating environment is the perfect balance for me. “
Starting out in the industry working for another jewelry designer, Brooke was enamored with the jewelry making process, but was less excited about what she was learning about the mining and mining process. âI couldn’t continue working for an industry that was damaging this Earth,â she admits. When she decided to go on her own, the seed was sown for the concept that is at the heart of her business: veto newly mined diamonds and only offer recycled and salvaged diamonds. âI saw how the diamond industry took advantage of unethical and environmentally destructive practices, so when I learned of the existence of recycled diamonds, I was hooked. “
Many people will have learned about the problems of the diamond trade after seeing the smashing box office success Blood diamonds with Leonardo DiCaprio. The film introduced a global audience to the role diamonds can play in starting civil war in countries like Sierra Leone. These diamonds are mined in areas controlled by rebel forces who sell them to finance the purchase of weapons and fuel armed conflict, resulting in bloodshed and other war-related crimes such as kidnapping. children in order to train them to become child soldiers. Diamonds that fuel armed conflict are commonly referred to as conflict diamonds.
Since the film’s release in 2006, the industry has come under intense scrutiny with advocates demanding that jewelry companies make their supply chains transparent. Under pressure to make changes and with sustainability and social responsibility now in the minds of many consumers, the diamond industry has responded with some sort of solution – “conflict-free” diamonds.
But are conflict-free diamonds really conflict-free?
Brooke explains that the term âconflict freeâ is used to classify diamonds that have not been mined by non-governmental armed groups to finance violent conflict. The problem with the term, however, is that it is too narrow and ignores unfair and exploitative labor practices. âConflict-free diamonds can still be mined by child laborers under unfair and very dangerous conditions without any worker protection,â says Brooke. âWithout conflict does not mean without exploitation and I think it is important to stress this. “
The Sustainable Jeweler reveals that 15-20% of all mined diamonds labeled “conflict free” are still mined under mining conditions and because the true origin of a mined diamond is difficult to track, these diamonds contrary to the ethically – about one in five of all mined diamonds – still enter the market. According to Brooke, some diamonds, such as diamonds mined in Canada, are easy to trace, but their price is higher. And what about lab-grown diamonds? She admits that lab-grown diamonds are another option, but “they don’t retain their value and require huge amounts of energy to produce them.”
The mining of precious metals such as gold and silver also comes with its own set of environmental and social issues. For example, gold, one of the world’s most sought-after raw materials and a mainstay of the jewelry industry, is mined using explosives and corrosive chemicals such as arsenic, cyanide and mercury which not only lead to environmental destruction but to human health problems as waterways are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic pollutants. In addition, in many parts of the developing world where there are gold mines, such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Peru, exploitative practices and child labor are rife.
It is the plethora of environmental and social issues associated with modern mining that led Brooke to conclude that recycled and salvaged diamonds are the most environmentally friendly way to source diamonds. âRecycled, used, used, antique, vintage – whatever you call it, this is the most environmentally friendly way to buy diamonds. They are already in circulation; their imprint cannot be remade. In addition, the jeweler only uses recovered and recycled metals in the manufacture of fittings and frames.
And while recycled and salvaged inputs are the focus, Brooke also sources US-mined gemstones for customers looking for something a little different. The sourcing of mined gemstones domestically facilitates their traceability and allows the company to minimize its carbon footprint while supporting other US-made companies.
As Alexandra Brooke Designs is still a small one-man business, clients can expect ongoing one-on-one consultations with Brooke, which ensures a positive and beneficial experience. âI limit the number of clients I take so that I can pay a lot of attention to everyone I work with. It’s really a co-creation process and I encourage my couples to communicate with me regularly about what they like and what they don’t like.
Most of the clients who contact the jewelry design company intend to propose and get married, so much of Brooke’s work is focused on custom design of engagement rings and wedding bands. Working virtually from her design studio, she will spend hours selecting the best diamond options from 11 trusted suppliers. Her commitment to helping clients design and create the ring of their dreams is unwavering whether a couple is on a budget of $ 2,000 or $ 15,000. The icing on the proverbial cake? Recycled diamonds and reclaimed stones are generally more affordable than freshly mined stones, proving that sustainability doesn’t have to cost the earth.
With a love of the great outdoors and geological parents that Brooke attributes to her fascination with gems and crystals, the journey into sustainable jewelry design was seemingly destined. And despite launching the business in the midst of COVID-19, the startup is attracting a steady stream of customers. âSeeing how many people care as much as I do about choosing to buy things that will benefit the Earth and our future is truly inspiring. It is humbling to see the side of humanity that truly cares.
With the growing list of the industry’s negative environmental and social impacts, it’s no surprise that Brooke, an outdoor adventurer and nature lover, has chosen to create a jewelry design studio that, on its small scale, is attempting to right so many wrongs in the industry – all while focusing the wishes of its customer every step of the way.
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by Alexandra Brooke Designs. Specific product information is provided and confirmed with the company. All images provided. For more information on our policies, click here.