In Ireland, a cohort of exceptionally talented women are leading the way in the production of sustainable jewellery, crafting beautiful pieces with the minimum impact on our planet, says Paul McLauchlan
What is the most important thing when it comes to buying jewellery. Is it sentimentality? Is it its timelessness? Undoubtedly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, nowadays, customers have other questions, ones that simply didn’t exist five years ago. Is it sustainable? Is it ethically sourced? Those are today’s questions.
In Ireland, the market for sustainable jewellery is strengthened by a cohort of exceptionally talented women at its core.
The sustainable wave is reaching all areas of society. In fashion, there is a notable difference in the way businesses operate. The emphasis is on ethical sourcing and manufacturing, working towards a cleaner and more sustainable future where supply chains are as transparent as can be.
But, of course, with this comes the greenwashing. What is ethical to one might not be to another. Sustainability could appear differently in my mind than yours. How conscious is conscious?
In Vanity Fair’s annual jewellery supplement which accompanies the August issue, the editorial team reached the conclusion that, ‘“sustainability” is the wrong word for the
jewellery industry.’ They credited the mining of natural, finite resources and the consequences of energy inefficiency as the primary stipulations.
While definitions are up for debate, the women at the forefront of the jewellery industry in Ireland have more than a few things in common but the likeness that sticks out is mindfulness.
“It’s a learning curve for everyone to understand what we can do to help the environment and every act matters,” said Helena Malone, goldsmith.
Maria Dorai-Raj is a Cork-based goldsmith who creates eclectic and modern fine jewellery with a sleek femininity with the environment in mind. Her designs are informed by the beauty and art of nature. Her jewellery is made entirely by hand in her studio, using precious metals and a melange of traditional and modern jewellery-making techniques.
Her locally-made jewellery is stocked in retailers across Ireland by buyers who support the sustainable element of Irish craft.
“As an individual, I am concerned with leaving the lightest of footprints on our beautiful and fragile planet,” Dorai-Raj told the Irish Examiner. “With this in mind, I source my materials from suppliers who are committed to sustainable environmental practices, such as conserving energy and recycling materials. I use eco-silver which is an environmentally friendly and 100% recycled product.”
For Helena Malone, a devotion to ethical craft came naturally after spending a decade in the corporate world of global business. A chance trip to an arts centre in Australia sparked her joy for making, and a career change. The rest is history.