Understanding the Circular Economy

The phrase 'Circular Economy' is being used an increasing amount, but what does it mean, and how can it apply to fine jewellery? 

At present, the ‘take-make-dispose’ mentality means globally we dispose of valuable materials at the end of use (usually through landfill or incineration), resulting in large amounts of resource value loss, depletion of resources and Co2 emissions causing the greenhouse effect. This can be seen in the jewellery industry with “demi-fine” brands that are selling pieces, packaged and promoted as fine, but made from materials that won’t endure. It can be seen in technology, with built-in obsolescence in the hardware of products, meaning they require replacing every ~22 months.

The core principals of the circular economy are (1.) to create an object of long term value and (2.) to eliminate the concept of waste. Applying the principal to design means the entire lifecycle of a piece is considered before it is ever made. Recycled materials sourced, manufactured sustainably and transported in a considered way. Then sold ensuring the products can be repaired. Finally, when the product reaches the end of its lifecycle it is recycled or disposed in an environmentally conscious way. Ultimately, keeping resources in use as long as possible through re-use and regeneration of new products. 

If you were to mine 1 ton of the earths ore, you would get a yield of >30g of gold. If you were to mine 1 ton of electronic waste, you would get a yield of 300g of gold.

Applying circularity to your jewellery box

- Opt for Quality -

Save up and invest in the highest quality or carat you can afford. Focus on a small capsule collection, comprising pieces that are built to stand the test of time and daily wear. Avoid shopping sprees and impulse purchase. Applying this mentality is win-win, because these pieces intrinsically have value and will retain their value. We have also found that when you have fewer things, you take amazing care of them.

- Consider Redesigning -

Before you consider purchasing something new, appreciate the value of what you already own. Go through your jewellery box and remind yourself what is there. Consider remaking, using stones and precious metals you already own but no longer wear. Approach a jeweller with the designs you like, what you have available (such as unwanted stones) and your budget. Work with them to create something you truly love.

- Spring Clean - 

Ebay the costume jewellery you don’t wear - that saying “one persons trash is another persons treasure” really is true. Apparently, we only use 20% of what we have in our jewellery boxes. We can't recast non precious metals, so re-selling is the best option. If you sell the other 80%, you could significantly increase your budget for your next piece and feel liberated by having less 'stuff'. 

- Designs for Longevity -

Styles should be timeless (rather than short trend-led pieces) that are suitable for resizing and repair. 


Eliza Walter


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