A sustainable product is measured in various ways. I believe it's a recipe that contains the material (how this material is created), the process of making (does it create little waste, packaging etc) and high-quality craftsmanship (will the item be treasured and last a long time).
Sterling Silver is treasured and isn't a frivolous purchase, it also has a continuous lifespan as it can be melted and used again. However, how it is mined from the ground is questionable and therefore can't ever be classed as an ethically sourced material.
Mining for metal is one of the most destructive industries. It's responsible for 10 per cent of world energy, arsenic emissions, cyanide and mercury poisoning, child labour and human rights abuses, as well as vast landscape damage!
Eco Silver which is supplied by a company called Cookson Gold is still Sterling Silver but made by recycling the vast amount of previously mined silver and therefore reducing the need for extracting new metals.
Eco silver is:
- 100% recycled
- 100% traceable
- 100% audited
- Certificate of authenticity
90% of the silver we sell in the shop has been made from Eco Silver.
Eco silver comes in wire and sheet form and you need to be a Silversmith to be able to use these materials. Some designers whose jewellery uses mixed media (recycled leather and clay for example) use fixings and earring hooks of standard silver. This is because they purchase these components ready made as their main craft isn't the earring hook but the earring itself. Ready made eco silver 'findings' are not readily available yet.
We are currently working on making Eco Silver earring hooks and jump rings in-house. These will be available for other makers to buy from us at cost price in hope they will start using eco silver too! If you have any Sterling Silver earrings components at home, please consider donating it to the shop as our many jewellery can melt and reuse this precious material.
* Earrings pictured are handmade oxidised eco silver hoops. Created by My Bear Hands and you can purchase them HERE.