Nothing beats the feel-good factor of treating yourself or loved ones to fine jewellery. But while the booming jewellery industry is all prestige and luxury on the surface, all that glistens is not gold – a dark underbelly lies just beneath. Human rights violations are all too common and manufacturing processes produce large amounts of toxic waste that have a huge impact on the environment (gold mining alone is responsible for around 180 million tonnes of toxic waste per year!).
Worse still, things seem to have soured in the wake of Covid-19: A 2020 report by Human Rights Watch highlights how the global pandemic has uncovered just how fragile jewellery supply chains are and how workers at the bottom of the chains are at their most vulnerable. Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, lockdowns have halted mining activities, which has had devastating repercussions on communities, mine workers and their families who depend on this work for their livelihoods.
In places where mining has been able to continue, workers are exploited and their lives put at risk as lockdowns have slowed government monitoring and thus the enforcement of regulations. On top of that, illegal mining has picked up: for example in Venezuela, armed rebels have taken control of mining reserves for precious metals like gold, and they have used the pandemic to effectively expand their illicit activities. Needless to say, producing fine jewellery responsibly in this day and age poses huge challenges.
How we do things ethically at Nyrelle
Yet despite the drawbacks, ethical jewellery matters more now than ever. The good news is there is a growing number of sustainable alternatives for sourcing precious metals and gemstones such as recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds – meaning more viable options for #ConsciousCollectors like you!
Since launching Nyrelle in 2020, our vision has been to create fine jewellery that’s 100% traceable from the mine to your jewellery box. We believe wholeheartedly in being transparent about our material sourcing as well as leaving as little impact on the planet a possible and doing what we can to protect vulnerable workers in the industry. While we strive to improve our ethical practices each day, here are just some of the ways we are currently committed to bringing you truly conscious fine jewellery so you can wear them worry-free!
1. Good Gold: Only Recycled & Fairtrade Precious Metals
All of our fines are made with either 9K solid gold, 18K solid gold, or vermeil (925 sterling silver plated with a 5 microns thick layer of 18K gold – a coating that is 100% thicker than the industry standard!). But we don't just work with any precious metals, we only use recycled or Fairtrade gold or silver.
What does that mean exactly? We are proudly registered as a Fairtrade Goldsmith, which means our gold is 100% traceable direct to the community that mines it. We put this scheme in place to better the lives of small-scale and artisanal gold miners, their families, and their communities by providing them with fair wages and safe working conditions. Every miner receives a guaranteed Fairtrade minimum price, as well as a Fairtrade premium payment for every kilogram of gold mined. So if you get a Nyrelle piece that's made with fairtrade gold, you'll be actively contributing to transforming the lives of those who deserve it most.
On top of that, we strongly believe in reducing waste: since pure gold can be infinitely melted down and recycled without losing its quality, we craft the majority of our fines with recycled gold composed of reclaimed jewellery! As they say, waste not, want not.
2. Lifetime Buyback: a truly circular way to shop for fine jewellery
This brings us to our second point: our lifetime buy-back programme, which lets you get in on the recycling action! When you buy any Nyrelle piece, you're automatically part of the club. If you no longer want your fines or feel like freshening up your collection with new pieces, we'll buy back your Nyrelle jewellery at 20% of the purchase price, melt it down, and craft brand new pieces to be enjoyed over and over again. It's the ultimate way to close the loop: it eliminates waste, reduces the need for new gold mining, and gives you a shot at updating your collection – it doesn't get better than that!
3. Conflict-free Diamonds, Ethically-sourced Gem Stones
When it comes to gemstones, we're super picky. We source natural gems from our trusted partners at Moyo gems who create transformative opportunities for female artisanal miners in Tanzania – each stone can be traced back to the exact woman who mined it! This partnership ensures every miner receives fair compensation as well as safe and ethical treatment and mining conditions. Plus, we invest 10% of our gemstone order value into the education, vocational training and equipment of these miners to give back as much as we can.
Our diamonds, on the other hand, are conflict-free, which means they have not been mined in areas of armed conflict or traded illicitly to finance conflicts. On top of that, they are certified by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), a government regulated program which means we can verify that each stone is sourced ethically; our current batch of diamonds was responsibly mined in Russia.
4. Hand-crafted with artisans who share our ethical values
Finally, there's nothing more conscious than slow, mindful craftsmanship. We work with a trusted group of master artisans and expert goldsmiths to create fines that stand the test of time. With decades of experience in fine jewellery making, they follow the highest standards of craft when creating our pieces, one by one.
While it's heartbreaking to uncover the dark side of the fine jewellery industry, we're on a mission to make sure that beautiful, quality fines don't have to come at the cost of the Earth or human rights. There are always ethical alternatives and it's on us to keep fighting for a safer, more sustainable and more transparent future for the industry, so you can keep glowing in your fines guilt-free.