Vegan Jewellery by Ethical Goldsmith Kerstin Laibach
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dotOnly recycled precious metals and not directly mined and therefore no further displacement of fragile eco-systems.
dotLocally-gathered surface stones.
Cruelty-free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
dot15% of profits donated to wildlife protection and re-naturing - also land-care education in developing countries.
A genuine approach to chemical-hazard-free crafting.
No plating. No casting. Nothing designed or made with computer software.
Carbon-inverted targets (Dedicated to putting more back into nature than taking from it).
Every detail handmade by Laibach.
No greenwash answers to customer questions.
No newly-mined gems ... ever.
dotAtelier Laibach is the first jewellery maker worldwide to use
The  About The NOVA Key Ethical Label Key ethical label.

Atelier Laibach jewellery pouch
Your Laibach jewellery piece comes in our own handmade pouch made with bamboo, raffia and vegan sealing wax.
Edge Polishing at Atelier Laibach Information, ethical preferences and questions with detailed answers - also for Vegans - relating to Kerstin Laibach's jewellery creations.

Kerstin Laibach takes every possible measure to ensure her jewellery creations are also suitable for more stringent vegan client with specific crafting process requirements.

The following is a section from a VeggieGlobal article:

"In any manufacturing environment, including companies making vegan products, it is often unavoidable that the tools or machinery to make them may contain elements derived from animals. A moderate vegan will not usually look so far into this moral maze. To do so would ultimately mean avoiding over half the daily items and comforts they are used to. All cars contain animal products, usually felt-based materials, as do a majority of house constructions. Many musical instruments like pianos, drums, wind and string instruments contain animal hair, skin and other animal derived elements. Does this mean that a vegan should not listen to music because it is played on instruments made with slaughtered animal derivatives? Most commercially bought vegetables are grown using manure fertilizer and animal derived compost; the manure being a by-product from farm animals reared for meat consumption and compost containing slaughtered animal carcass waste. If you want to ensure that the vegetables you eat are not associated with animal slaughter, you simply have to grow your own ... impossible for the millions of vegans who may not have gardens.
For vegans it is clearly unfortunate that humanity has evolved by utilizing the use of animals to such an extent that their carcasses permeate the very fabric of the dwellings, manufacturing processes, invisible product parts, arts and pastimes which we all take for granted and subsequently make use of each day. However, to maintain a semblance of sanity we have little choice but to swallow this moral dilemma, which has arisen through centuries of mindless commercial manufacturing and left unchecked as to how it has contributed to animal suffering. This legacy of human evolution may not sit comfortably with strict vegans, who are essentially tied to a path upon which world industries and its dependent societies have widely paved. If such a path is completely avoided ... vegans would have to cover their ears from most music, live in wooden huts and simply not touch anything made from animals or have been made with tools containing animal derivatives. To avoid the onset of paranoia and extremist behaviour, most moderate vegans will still quite understandably listen to a piano concerto and drive cars ...
and until all these things and thousands more products with "hidden" animal products are made cruelty-free we will wisely spare ourselves from the symptoms of hyper-morality."...
Reproduced with permission from an article by

VeggieGlobal (Kerstin Laibach's ecological mentor) therefore suggests that it is often impossible to avoid objects and lifestyle situations without directly or indirectly coming into contact with hidden components that are the result of animal slaughter. This philosphy also points out that if it is possible to eliminate animal cruelty from a product or service then there should be every commonsense reason to do so.
A piece of jewellery is a style accessory and not an unavoidable requisite of day-to-day living. This is even more reason why such an item should be considered a prime candidate to be "veganised" ... without at all being branded as a "hyper-moral" branch of vegan extremism.
A jewellery blogger with an antagonistic attitude once posed a question to Kerstin Laibach: "Isn't the idea of vegan jewellery extreme and doesn't it compromise your design and crafting?". The essence of Kerstin's reply was,"As more people learn of my bio-vegan ethics I hope to also emphasise the message that my goldsmith artistry does not just appeal exclusively to vegans but that it upholds high-level goldsmithing while seamlessly celebrating true vegan values, enabling anyone to wear my pieces free of guilt. As far as design and crafting, I explore "unconventional" goldsmithing - as an artform - further than ever and without restriction. I think of designs through a sense of compassion and with a story which often lends itself to each piece. This steers my creativity on journeys which test my skills far beyond anything I might have done if simply thinking pearls, corals and the easy acquisition of new-mined stones. My palette, of harvesting nature's elements without cruelty or environmental harm, is so much richer and rewarding."
Based on the global standard definition of traditional veganism, none of Kerstin Laibach's jewellery contains any animal-derivatives. Kerstin's pioneering "Bio-Vegan" approach takes vegan jewellery to the next level and to its ultimate conclusion.
It may not have occurred to most vegans and even many "veggie" jewellers themselves that a typical jeweller's workbench contains numerous tools and associated aids derived from animals, as well as materials and processes responsible for habitat and environmental destruction. Kerstin Laibach suggests that, not just stricter vegans, but anyone with consideration towards humane and ecological crafting ethics would not wish their jewellery to be made using any tool or process derived from animal slaughter.
Laibach atelier is on a continual mission to perfect a vegan jewellery workbench environment, researching and examining many aspects previously unexplored for vegan suitability. For the first time a professional goldsmith of luxury jewellery can offer pieces entirely made without using any animal derived crafting aids. Laibach atelier has researched, adapted and sourced workshop tools, which to the very best of our knowledge are free of any animal products.
Here is just one example. All fine jewellery goes through a polishing process. The standard preparatory jewellery polishing wheel in every goldsmiths workshop contains felt (animal derived). This felt specifically prepares the foundation for a traditional glass finish to larger areas of a completed gold or silver piece (i.e. some ring interiors). There is no direct non-felt alternative commercially available for this process. We have therefore created our own non-felt alternatives using a natural plant fibre which is proving very successful. Kerstin Laibach also polishes her work exclusively with specially obtained polishing paste which is completely free of animal fats. Kerstin Laibach is able to cater for exact ethical polishing preferences for vegans and responsible vegetarians by avoiding the use of a felt buff altogether. Final polishing and buffing duties are undertaken using cotton.

Laibach's principles mean we give a completely honest answer about any ethical question relating to vegan requirements. We prefer to explain the more essential moral aspects of Kerstin Laibach's creation process rather than hide any anomalies by simply not mentioning it ... Kerstin intends to offer her designs to the strictest vegan with a clear conscience. So, please let her know if you have any essential requirements regarding the construction of your piece when ordering.

Kerstin Laibach's Pure Vegan Jewellery Art ... Questions and Answers

Q. If you say that being vegan should also mean no detriment to environmental habitats and so nothing new-mined, why should a vegan wear any sort of previously mined metals and stones - however old they may be? Say a diamond was mined a hundred years ago, the environment surrounding it and probably the human who was mining it would have suffered ... so why is wearing recycled jewellery OK for vegans?
A. (By VeggieGlobal for Kerstin Laibach).
This aspect in corelating vegan morals with newly mined precious metals and stones had never previously been considered as a principle of professional goldsmithing. Through our extensive preparation and research, the "Laibach Principles" present a new, clear and unparalleled definition of ethically crafted jewellery and through its definition the vegan tenet is not only automatically applied but also remodelled for 21st century environmental requirements.
A diamond ring without pearls or any other animal derived parts would have always traditionally been considered suitable for a vegan to wear. But since creating this project to pioneer the world's first bio-vegan jewellery crafting (Laibach) principles, we have also redefined the morals of veganism and therefore brought about questions surrounding the issue of vegans wearing NEW-MINED jewellery of any kind.
Our work in this field has raised the bar to introduce the most genuine ecological standards in jewellery ethics which we hope all jewellery makers will one day aspire to. We cannot change the past but we can help compensate for the wrongs that came about at the time precious stones or gold was, and is still mined, for a piece of jewellery without any thought of the devastating environmental impact of preciouslife dependent eco-systems.
In terms of ecological damage caused by mining, there is essentially no escape from a world which runs on so many things made from extracted earth sources; not just jewellery but all metals and mineral-based building and production materials, whether it be recycled or newly extracted ... including a vegan's bicycle.
Quite obviously though, by sourcing goods of any kind from recycled materials which had once been mined means we can continue to advance towards a future with a clearer conscience.
However, even though Kerstin Lainbach is only using reclaimed / recycled precious metals and stones it doesn'tmean we should forget to look back at the times when those same metals and stones were newly mined and caused a lasting negative impact on the world - for humans and nature. We need to help pay back for those actions.
In the 21st century it means developing a mode of "veganism" which encompasses the whole framework of animal compassion, environmentalism and humanitarianism. This is what VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass have set out to do since the mid/late 1990's. By 2008 we initiated the "Laibach Principles" of jewellery craft, which embraces an example of this philosophy to adapt a fully professional, ancient craft and thus educate its followers towards a new thinking model. We have endeavoured to "veganize" and ethicise jewellery to an extent that it has the potential to reverse the past detrimental effects of mining, and provide subsistence based peoples the incentive to repair their communities and their fragile natural environments. There are pro-active elements of this potential in action through Kerstin Laibach's principle of giving 15% of her profits to environmental and wildlife protection causes - and in the case of her no-new-mined principle this means money awarded to environmental protection and educational projects within subsistance-based communities in areas affected by mining. The principle being that no more flora or fauna is displaced and destroyed for the sake of vanity. This is why if a vegan desires a diamond it can and should only be a very old one ... 70 years and counting back ... ad infinitum. (
See Laibach Threshold Principles.) Even then, how such an old diamond was mined and the story of any humanitarian discordance surrounding it is impossible to know. For example, a jeweller's historical account about the provenance of an antique diamond he was trying to sell you is more than likely to be a work of fiction. An antique diamond would have bounced around very many jewellers, dealers and private hands - in and out of various rings since the time it was mined and cut. The true provenance and nearly all events of that diamond's history are entirely lost. What we need to do now, in this century, is look at that beautiful old cut diamond of precious historical value and think - do we bury it back into the ground or do we recycle it - and positively embrace its presence above ground?; Above groun d it will continue to be utilised for vanity-wear perhaps, but most importantly it can synchronously make its time above ground effectively work to help reimburse the planet and any human suffrage it may have caused in the past. This is why we have developed a direct correlation between the acquisition of antique precious stones or recycled precious metals and planetary repair as mentioned earlier; to give 15% of Laibach atelier profits to help support the re-naturing of damaged environments and to help lift subsistence-based communities out of poverty and away from the dead-end vortex of mining. For vegans, this is an entirely new and important moral requisite of living on a modern vegan path ... not just what you eat and wear but also how we can turn negatives into positives and help repair damage caused by the past and present mismanagement of our planet and socioeconomic wrong-doings.

Q. Based on the previous answer, "veganizing" my jewellery attire, based on the Laibach principles, is also environmentally logical ... but what about the clothes I wear - vegan or not?
A. (By VeggieGlobal for Kerstin Laibach).
First, here is a quandary from a vegan clothing perspective:
Contentions can surface if for example - a meat-eater turned vegan continues to wear animal derived clothing to keep warm in winter as he or she may not be able to afford a new "vegan" winter wardrobe of clothes. It can be argued that throwing away or taking to charity a perfectly wearable set of clothes just because they might contain wool for example, is even more of an environmental waste - having to then buy replacement vegan-friendly clothes. Such a disposable action may also be considered to show less respect for the animal subsequently slaughtered to have his or her body parts turned into clothing. New vegans can give away all their old animal derived belongings for someone else to use, but you should also seriously consider that you will invariably find yourself wearing micro-plastic releasing attire, such as polyester and acrylics etc. These synthetic textiles are causing huge damage to marine environments - so of course it's always preferable to choose natural organic plant fibres (hemp, cotton etc.) for clothing and shoes whenever possible. Weighing it up however, is it wrong for a new vegan to continue to use their current animal-derived belongings until they are worn out? Apart from ensuring that you are not giving out contradictory messages, it is perhaps up to the individual to decide for themselves what they consider the most pragmatic solution. You may need to explain why you are a vegan wearing an old woolly jumper, but the above explanation itself may help spread a more sustainable philosophy which keeps the moral path a little more in the direction of ecological common-sense. Jewellery however, is purely symbolic vanity-wear. It serves no other function than as a style accessory. If you are a new vegan still wearing leather-corded or coral necklaces etc. there is no real ecological justification for it. If not given to charity, such jewellery can be separated for precious metal recycling and the coral and leather biologically "released" (buried) back into the appropriate natural environments.

Q. You use only recycled precious metals, but aren't there chemicals used in the refining process?
Whether gold and other precious metals are newly mined or have undergone recycling, refining ALWAYS takes place before it is bought by the jewellery industry to make products. Refining ensures that the precious metal is pure and can be appropriately hallmarked in relation to whatever carat it is refined to - and as mentioned this process is compulsory whether it is new mined precious metal or old precious metal. I source my recycled precious metals from a specialised recycling refiner in Germany who recycle only from old precious metal scrap and jewellery shop sweepings and not from directly mined. For example, in 2013 and operating at full capacity, individual measurements taken at the refinery by certification inspectors were well within the emission limits specified in the 17th issue of the German Federal Emission Control Act Ordinance. The reason for this is that my refiner uses the most ecologically advanced refining system, (developed and optimised by themselves), which substantially limits any environmental impact caused by precious metal reprocessing. Just as with new-mined gold, recycling is undertaken through "wet chemical" recovery/refining whereby strong acids are used for the separation and purification process. At my refiner, this action is kept under strict environmental control with emissions kept to an absolute minimum and subsequently filtered down to non-hazardous levels. Any residue from refining goes through incineration, separation and homogenising processes to become harmless ash or for reuse. I feel this is a good example of high-tech precious metal processing with strong eco-commitment, which serves to vastly improve the handling and safe disposal of precious metal refining residue; far superior to the environmentally damaging procedures which take place within all artisanal mining activities and small scale refineries including some jewellers in areas of the world who refine their own precious metals in environmentally reckless conditions. The most environmentally friendly option I offer my clients is to use their own old gold to create something new. Providing the gold is of a sufficient quality I offer to re-melt and forge it into their new piece. This practice of re-melting old gold to make new is nothing new and can be achieved by most professional goldsmiths. It means no chemicals used to refine the gold again (and since I do not refine myself I have no such harsh chemicals for refining in my workshop).

Q. How do you know that everything you make is 100% recycled / vegan?
A. I don't feel it is honest or humanly possible to guarantee anything as "100%" For example, you often see refiner-sourced recycled golds and silvers described as "100%" recycled, but this is misleading. Although the action of recycling is obviously a 100% process, the material (the precious metals which go into the recycling process at the refiners) most likely always contains traces of newly mined material. This happens through workbench sweepings and offcuts from other goldsmiths using new-mined, and even small new-mined ingots and nuggets bought from people who come into jewellery shops to sell the gold they have mined themselves while on (increasingly popular) tourist mining trips. I have been offered gold like this from people, but I don't accept it. So, "old" gold is sent to the refiners all the time from these sources and collectively put into the refining (recycling) process. So when buying newly recycled gold or silver from a refiner, what it is is "100%" recycled but it is most likely not "100%" free of new-mined material. The only times I will say that the precious metals I use are "100%" recycled is when I use clients old family scrap gold (often for sentimental value) to make them a new piece out of it. This is the most ecologically balanced way to create client pieces and also eliminates the necessity to acquire newly refined recycled gold. (see also previous question)
Regarding animal derivatives getting into any aspect of my crafting; this is actually easier for me to monitor, simply down to our extensively researched elimination of anything that may traditionally have contained animal parts. But even so, I cannot guarantee "100%" that a tiny insect has not flown into the cotton buff of my polishing wheel when I am polishing a piece, even though the polishing paste and the buff are not animal derived! And as long as I refrain from using anything which isn't fully biodegradable I can be sure (as much as anyone can be sure) that it will not harm animal habitats upon disposal. If I can't determine the materials or ingredients in crafting aids I might have to outsource, I won't buy them and instead make a "vegan" version myself. The only crafting essentials which I use that I would say cannot be quantified into the purest possible vegan ethics without entering the realms of the extreme is the gas I use for soldering, melting and fusing (no more each day than the average use of a kitchen cooker) and a minute amount of borax. As a fossil based fuel, propane* is one of the cleanest options but of course it is sourced from the natural world and can be detrimental to the environment. The soldering flux borax is also a material that derives from earth extraction. I use raw borax in its natural crystal form and is not tested on animals (as in accordance with the uncrossed "A" on the NOVA Key). These two aspects mentioned above (soldering gas and borax) are impossible to eliminate from fine goldsmithing because without a soldering flame and flux, such detailed work would be impossible. Therefore I feel confident that the 15% of my profits which go back into wildlife and environmental protection projects more than compensate for my minimal use of any natural resources.

* Our ongoing research suggests that propane may in the long-term prove to be less polluting than micro-flame soldering systems, which use hazardous chemicals.

Q. What is Bio-Vegan (or organic-vegan)? *
A. With food this describes a vegan who only eats organic foods - nothing chemically sprayed, artificially fertilized or GM modified.
Coining this term for my jewellery, it means that everything that I make is biologically earth-friendly, so that if ever disposed, the parts it is made of will not cause detriment to the environment as there is no chemical residue in the pieces - no plastic parts etc. It also means that additional solutions I may have to use when making my pieces are over 95% organic (95% being in compliance with organic certifications as well as
The NOVA Key)
*The term bio vs organic can cause confusion depending on which country you live. The general rule is that non english speaking countries, particularly Germany use the term "Bio" for labelling instead of "Organic". While in the UK "Bio" when seen on some products can mean something quite diferent - for example "biological" washing powder (detergent) contains all kinds of non-organic chemical agents which have nothing to do with organic certification!

Q. Is everything you display at jewellery shows vegan?
A. In terms of how a piece of jewellery can more simply be termed as vegan, meaning no animal derived parts in the actual pieces, then yes. However, I will embelish this answer further to dispell a myth about reclaimed precious stones:  For demonstration purposes I occasionally show one or two pieces I made during my apprenticeship - some time before I began my ecological crusade as a strictly nothing-new-mined goldsmith. These pieces contain newly mined stones (at that time) and are therefore not ecologically linked to my principles (and therefore not hallmarked with my logo and not specifically for sale as part of my collections). Recently, a fashion media person passed my stand at one of my shows and pointed out these pieces along with my pieces mase with reclaimed stones and suggested that they (all) must be new-mined stones because they all looked so perfect (suggesting that using antique stones creates an inferior result). This presumption is completely wrong and unsubstantiated. Firstly, it is a misconception that precious stones cut a hundred years ago are less perfect than modern day cutting quality. It is also, without question, possible for any design using antique (old, previously mounted stones) to look as equally perfect and impressive as one made with new-mined, newly cut counterparts. The only reason my aforementioned precious stone pieces made years ago are displayed as examples is because I have made them at that time for myself and therefore own them; instead of having been made on commission from clients. Once I have made a piece for a client it is gone and because I do not stock pile pieces with precious stones (in fact, I do not stock any precious metals or stones), I rarely have such pieces to display and don't make pieces containing lots of antique diamonds or precious stones just for display. Instead I work solely on client  wishes if they commission a piece with stones, whereby I will seek perfect quality antique stones to suit the design. The finished pieces therefore go straight to the client and thus not seen on display. It is important for my clients to know that a piece made with carefully selected antique stones will look as perfect as any piece made with new-mined stones.

Q. What about customer repair work containing animal derivatives?
A. I usually accept basic repair work of antique jewellery containing animal derivatives, such as re-stringing old pearls etc. This is a service I provide at my German atelier for local customers. However, I do not undertake any kind of work which would leave animal-derived residue on my workbench etc.
At first, it may seem contradictory and against my principles to repair animal-derived jewellery, but there is a very specific and positive twist of logic for doing so:
One hundred percent of all money I receive from repairing customer animal-derived jewellery goes directly to wildlife protection projects. The point is that if I didn't accept the repair work, the customer would simply go to another jeweller who did repair it, without environmental consideration, and the money would go straight into the jeweller's pocket as profit. Secondy, instead of turning down a customer and preaching why I don't repair such pieces, I turn the dilemna into a subliminal kind of eco-education; When customers pick up their repair work and pay for it I then explain to them that their payment is donated directly to wildlife protection to help compensate for the damage and suffering caused to wildlife through the use of such materials in jewellery. 
And so, by giving the repair work money straight to wildlife protection, at least this means that some of the negative elements relating to old jewellery can bring about something positive.
In an ideal world, as with fur coats, I would prefer to see all animal-derived vanity-wear buried. But while owners of such products continue to wear clothes and jewellery which cause animal suffering I would prefer to positively exploit an element of that behaviour by making sure the natural world can benefit - through repair work - as a form of direct compensation.

Q. Are your vegan methods and sourcing available to other jewellers?
A. The information on my site covers everything that aspiring ethical goldsmiths might require to become as earth and animal friendly as they can. Much of my process is based on experimentation and making alternative tooling which suits my own way of crafting. It has taken my partner (purely as an experienced environmentalist and without vested interest) many years to research and to assemble all the necessities for me to launch faithfully as a bio-vegan (organic) ethical jewellery artist - even though there is always something new to tackle when continually striving to limit any environmental impact. For commercial reasons I do not readily supply information direct by enquiry. However, if genuinely ethical minded students wish to know more about a certain green / animal friendly material I am using, we require plenty of proof that they are who they say they are, and we reserve our rights to use our upmost discretion on an individual basis. This is due to being hassled by large profitable brand companies or self-serving individuals trying to gain my knowledge as a free shortcut instead of doing their own complex and costly research. I am happy to share the workings of my principles with those who I believe will use that information to genuinely better the cause of animal and environmental protection, but I do not entertain those who plagiarize my principles and present a greenwashed version full of flaws and contradictions due to lack of genuine care and attention. Unfortunately, careless greenwash clearly seems to be rife within the superficial hyperbole of jewellery design and as
mentioned elsewhere on my website; 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. (see also this page)



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