A UNIQUE ETHOS » LAIBACH
PRINCIPLES » ETHICS AND THE JEWELLERY TRADE
the Jewellery Trade and The Laibach Principles ...
and VeggieGlobal.com are combined nonprofit, passive web resources.
With nearly 20 years web presence, the sites run important environmental
campaigns and highlight ways for consumers, along with industries
to reflect on pragmatic methods which can help reverse the devastating
effects of nonessential wear and tear inflicted on the natural
world. Below is our fly-on-the wall viewpoint which led to the
research and development of a completely mining-free and cruelty-free
jewellery workbench environment - and the debut of unique ethical
goldsmith artist Kerstin Laibach.
internet, it is easy to see that "ethical" or eco jewellery can
be termed as a trade which has tenuously jumped on the green bandwagon.
Pouring sanctimony over jewellery-making, labelled as ethical,
is potentially a contentious overstatement which we aim to keep
in firm check. Ethics should not be contrived or "greenwashed"
just to suit the vested interest of a business. But in a self-regulated
jewellery industry, often laced with bought opinions and erroneous
claims, such practices have become overwhelmingly common amongst
designers and jewellery companies; designed to diffuse customers
moral concerns about the source or making of a piece of jewellery.
It is the opinion
of Looking-Glass, VeggieGlobal and Kerstin Laibach that jewellery
business ethics must be properly substantiated to ensure guidance
on a genuine ecological path to help re-stabilize earth's increasingly
fragile environments. There is an urgent necessity to put a stop
to jewellers and trade-labelling organisations contriving false,
distorted or superficial ecological status. This is an issue which
should be reviewed and regulated by government based trades description
We explain these
moral discrepancies within the ethical jewellery hyperbole, not
to gain kudos for the conception of Laibach atelier's principles,
but to simply ensure clients of Kerstin Laibach that she makes
it her absolute, heartfelt priority to inform you of the exact
ecological nature of her crafting processes, the piece itself
and the packaging it comes in.
When jewellery related companies claiming to be green are speaking
half-truths, it only adds further tarnish to an industry already
scrutinized for its ecological and sociological shortcomings.
Kerstin Laibach respects that her customers appreciate her transparency
and honesty, and we emphasize that she does all that is possible
to make certain that her clients trust in her advanced ethics
is fully warranted.
Gold is Not "Sustainable"
In every other industry
"sustainable" means NOT using up earth's resources ...
Sustainable practices such as renewable electricity means using
the inexhaustible resource of wind or water instead of nonrenewable
coal or oil.
More and more frequently you may notice the word "sustainable"
used to describe or in conjunction with jewellery makers using
Fair-trade gold, Fair-trade platinum or Fair-trade silver. Gold
mining is not a sustainable earth resource. Once the gold is gone,
it's gone. (It is not bananas or coffee which obviously grow again.)
Therefore using the word "sustainable" to promote new-mined
precious metals should be regarded as misleading. "Sustainable"
should only be used to describe recycled precious metals.
Kerstin Laibach does
not exploit or embellish the "ethical" or "recycled"
term, and the merits of her service are founded on solid principles
with a clearly directed moral compass.
She does not use new-mined precious metals, instead only sustainable
recycled precious metals as a genuine environmentally acceptable
What is the difference between recycled gold and new-mined
(opens separate window)
jewellery is made from recycled metals, natural surface gathered
stones and antique precious stones, and at the end of the long
life of a Laibach jewellery piece, it is fully recyclable, therefore
sustainable and subsequently renewable. Any waste material used
to make a Laibach piece is also biodegradable. If a piece ended
its days buried as landfill waste, its component parts are harmless
to the environment. We take a genuinely
to our ecological crafting processes by
ensuring this continuous circle of sustainability
... from earth to earth. To
describe this circle we use the phrase "Thrucycling"
(created by Looking-Glass) - a recycling model that is biologically
earth-friendly from whichever source it comes or to whichever
place it ends up - either being remade again or discarded back
into the earth. This method should not be confused with artisans
who create novelty "recycled" jewellery from spent items
such as plastics, aluminum and electrical components. The contention
is described through an article published on Looking-Glass:
"A lot of artists are jumping on the recycled bandwagon without
really taking into consideration the long term sustainability
of their creations. For example, when old electronic devices remain
part of the industrial recycling process, the components are dismantled
into their constituent parts and what can be recycled is processed
accordingly. Even precious metals are extracted from circuit boards
for recycling and reuse. Therefore, the responsible action for
disposing of electronic equipment, old plastic containers, aluminum
or other non-organic or refined material is to make sure it goes
to the appropriate recycling centre so that it can be safely treated
according to whichever renewability or stabilizing process it
requires. The likelihood of a faddish jewellery piece, for example,
made from old computer circuit boards, finding its way to an electronics
recycling centre after its fashionable novelty has worn off, is
almost zero. Its owner will find disposing of the item bewildering,
and the nearest dustbin will provide the easiest solution, thus
ending up causing pollution as landfill waste. If craft-makers
are going to recycle "junk" to make jewellery or other
ornamental novelties, the materials they are recycling must at
least be biodegradable so that the item can be disposed of safely
at the end of its life without detriment to the environment ."
WHAT IS RECYCLED GOLD
AND SILVER AND IS IT ACTUALLY 100%?
We emphasize the often
spurious use of "100%", because no environmentally conscious
jeweller should claim that all the recycled materials they use
are "100%" ... but many do, whether it be the jewellery
itself or the box it comes in.
Although Kerstin Laibach sources recycled gold and silver from
a highly efficient and trustworthy supplier (which only refines
"old" gold from jewellers and the dental industry),
we recognise that even then the very nature of the gold recycling
process means it is impossible to completely guarantee that a
piece of jewellery contains 100% recycled "old" gold, silver or
platinum. This is because there is always a risk of traces of
new-mined gold getting mixed in with other jewellery makers bench
filings and sweepings which get sent back to the refiners for
recycling. With "faux green" jewellery makers now using
fair-trade gold and fair-trade platinum instead of recycled, there
is an even stronger possibility of new-mined fair-trade work bench
filings and sweepings entering the refiners recycling chain.
There is also the risk of some jewellers mixing in fresh-mined
nuggets or new gold ingots (easily melted down to look like scrap)
into the scrap bag for recycling. Kerstin Laibach is all too aware
of these irregularities due to being asked by customers on many
occasions to make a piece from gold they have mined themselves,
an activity brought about through the increasingly popular pastime
of tourist mining (Tourists pay a fee for a few hours gold digging
and keep what they find). Kerstin never accept these forms of
gold from customers.
Kerstin Laibach always describes the true recycled content of
her jewellery, the packaging she uses and where it comes from.
Eco Trinket Trade
as ethical in its bendy wire, seashell and shiny stone guise can
often originate from either dilettante or spurious manufactured
sources. This doesn't mean that such jewellery is less appreciated
because of its simplicity, and some can look aesthetically appealing.
But rustic, floaty appearances can often be used as a pretext
to call jewellery ethical or eco-friendly when its sourcing and
manufacturing methods are far from it. The semiprecious gem /
"healing" stones and crystals trinket trade is part of a global
market where the subsequent shifting of products, from one grey-import
trade supplier to the next, often makes it impossible to trace
their true ethical credentials ... if any. This leaves free reign
for continual, indiscriminate digging operations in protected
forests or disappearing habitats.
We would like to clarify that there is no correlation between
such trades and Kerstin Laibach's stringent ethical business model
using only surface pebbles which Kerstin gathers herself with
no detriment to environment.
or "Hypoallergenic" Jewellery
Some cheap fashion
jewellery companies are cashing in on the internet alarmist culture
by promoting allergy-safe jewellery, i.e., "nickel free" etc.
as if they have developed some kind of magical formula to the
problem. Quality jewellery or even cheap fashion jewellery which
abides to regulations should not be using precious metals with
nickel in the first place. As explained on Kerstin Laibach's Metal
on her wedding rings pages, plating and other barrier methods
are superfluous and nothing can be considered full-proof to eliminating
the possibilities of a hypoallergenic reaction. It could be argued
that there is no such thing as allergy-free, allergy-safe or hypoallergenic
jewellery. Instead, it is a matter of carefully eliminating possible
triggers through trial and error. The metabolism of one individual
person is different to the next; while one may experience some
degree of allergic reaction to an element in jewellery, another
may react far more rarely to a different element. Since all jewellery
contains a varying combination of elements, even without nickel,
it is inevitable that anecdotal evidence by someone somewhere
is claiming an allergic response to any one of those elements,
even metals in jewellery labelled "allergy-safe". However, this
conundrum, which seems impossible to clarify still doesn't deter
jewellery industry opportunists cashing in on the contrivance
of "hypoallergenic jewellery". It is impossible, and potentially
irresponsible, to provide such a blanket solution to a complex
metallurgical issue which has been wildly blown out of true context
by internet-forum health alarmists.
solutions ... The
Path of Genuine Ecologically Sustainable Ethical Jewellery.
Kerstin Laibach does
not use "ethical" as a loosely contrived distinction within an
industry built on the foundations of environmentally questionable
practices. Our clear ethical distinction demonstrates that to
look amazing, jewellery doesn't actually need to include new-mined
gems, new-mined metals or cause any harm or suffering to life.
Kerstin Laibach shows that materials and processes which displace
or destroy lives and habitats - whether it is the environment
or human rights abuse - are surplus to the requirements of chic
design and elegance.
Labelling Laibach jewellery
as "ethical" and "sustainable" also doesn't mean any
compromise in quality. Kerstin strictly quantifies her ethical
terms in relation to the accredited profession of goldsmithing,
and to do so have adjusted various methods within this skilled
trade to ensure a truer ethical status.
Laibach atelier won't
overstate eco-friendly goldsmith techniques, which traditionally
have always been, then keep any non-green aspects of the process
quiet. Kerstin Laibach explains everything that is realistically
achievable - treading the most ecologically sound path possible
while she makes your piece.
Kerstin Laibach never
uses fresh-mined precious metals or stones in her new pieces,
and therefore has no reason to justify the use of "Conflict-free"
diamonds or newly mined "green", "responsible"
or "fair" gold.
Kerstin Laibach will never give greenwash answers to your questions.
In the jewellery business the term ethical is grossly undefined
and subsequently meaningless. This allows makers and sellers to
contrive almost any sourcing or crafting method as "ethical".
Atelier Laibach defines ethical as being sustainable; ecologically
/ environmentally nondestructive as much as it possibly can be.
Again, this means no new-mined precious metals or gems.
Since many members
of the public are becoming increasingly confused by what defines
"ethical" gold (since Fair-trade gold, silver and platinum
licensing began), we have to repeat again that Kerstin Laibach
does not use "Fair-trade" gold / platinum / silver...
which is new-mined ... she only uses recycled precious
metals - and to help compensate damage to the environment caused
by mining she gives 15% of profits to environment/ wildlife protection
and re-naturing projects.
So not to confuse the
two, we explain the difference between recycling and fair-trade
as concisely as possible:
"RECYCLING" means no
more environmental disruption.
socially responsible fair pay.
These are entirely
separate ethical issues ... two methods of using precious metals
for jewellery at completely different ends of the "ethical" spectrum;
one (recycled) being ecologically sustainable and the other
(fair-trade) being sociologically remunerative.
We reject ethical embellishment
or "spin" such as using the terms "green" or "ecological" gold
when describing social improvements in artisanal mining.
The reality is that all raw extraction of stones and metals leave
environmental scars and displaces / destroys habitats and complex
ecosystems wherever and however it takes place. There is absolutely
no process which can genuinely claim to the contrary.
is passionate about providing a genuine earth-friendly service
and she clearly explains moral discrepancies to make absolutely
sure clients understand her advanced principles. Kerstin makes
it her priority to inform you of the exact ecological nature of
a Laibach piece and provide clarification of environmental projects
which a percentage of its sale will benefit.
However green an ethical
jeweller claims their recycling process is or how "fair-trade"
their source may be, the only way in which ecological full-proofing
can be achieved is if gold and precious stone mining ceases completely.
That will never happen because gold is essentially the all-powerful
dominant currency which a human world economy is built on, and
countries are made richer or poorer by its use as a monetary-based
transaction. It's worth noting however that around 55% (and rising)
of all gold directly mined is destined for the jewellery industry
- not to top up the vaults of national banks. The vanity trade
and government holdings are two completely diferent worlds - as
far as jewellery is concerned, there is already enough previously
mined gold circulating the world, to make and remake jewellery
for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It is completely unnecessary
to dig up the last remaining vital natural habitats of a planet
at tipping-point ... particularly for the sake of vanity.
In the meantime, we
will continue to help adjust, readjust and tighten the Laibach
principles as a genuine "ethical" metalsmith; an evolving process
through which we always aim to expand the boundaries of environmental
thinking in the jewellery business.
Environmental Arts and Media
Ecological Approach to Precious Metals
About Kerstin Laibach
Laibach's "Real" Slow / Holistic Jewellery Ethic
Principles front page
and Discuss Your Piece