Ella, the amazing woman behind Monarc Jewellery, contacted me a few months ago to arrange to meet up over coffee (although we drank kombucha!) to chat all things jewellery and sustainability. Ella has worked for lots of jewellery brands previously before launching her own brand, Monarc. Whilst sipping away on our kombucha on a rooftop on Old Street a couple month ago Ella suggested organising a shoot together so we could photograph my favourite pieces whilst also collaborating to promote sustainability in jewellery.
Sustainability in jewellery is something I hadn’t thought much about, but once you’re conscious of your choices you realise that metals are mined, crystals are mined and are often mined in very poor working conditions with unfair pay for such dangerous work and sometimes through cartels. Monarc focuses on sustainable practises, environmentally friendly packaging and more than 90% recycled metals (yes, this is a thing and something I now look for in all jewellery brands. This means less mining, more recycling!).
Something I also think not many people have thought about is the mining of crystals/ diamonds and the use of the planets natural resources that are ever decreasing. Monarc only use ‘above ground’ diamond, these diamonds are 100% traceable which means they can be tracked back to their source as opposed to natural form crystals that often pass through many owners and cartels where the sustainability and welfare of the miners cannot be guaranteed. Please do read more about this on Monarc’s website.
Focusing on sustainability and the environment, Ella asked me to answer some questions to accompany the images from our shoot:
How do you approach sustianable choices in your everyday life?
I always carry a water bottle with me if I know i’m going to be out all day so that I can refill in Pret (they have free tap water stations in their London shops!). I only use bar soap, never liquid as the chemicals in liquid soap and the plastic bottle are bad for the environment. I’m also vegetarian and eat minimal animal products to help reduce my carbon footprint and help save the animals.
Top 5 sustainable products you use?
Ohne tampons, which are biodegradable and bleach free! I have a subscription and they’re posted trough my letterbox every month. You can also get a free box with code PAIGEVIP if you’d like to try them too!
Bamboo toothbrushes, so good and no different to plastic ones. This is an easy way to reduce unnecessary plastic.
Metal straws, I carry a few in my bag when I know I’ll be drinking as they’re really good for pub gardens! But more importantly, refusing plastic straws when you order drinks! My pet hate is ordering a drinks and they give you a straw as standard!
A keep cup when travelling. They’re really handy as I feel you always want more tea and coffee when you’re travelling. It’s a bonus that you can save money on hot drinks in most coffee shops now by using a keep cup.
You studied fashion, how have your studies affected or led you to your current positions/path?
My tutor at uni was very passionate about denim and would teach us about how much water is used to create washed denim and how bad it was for the environment as the toxic water usually gets released into steams and rivers, which we saw first hand in Stacey Dooley’s recent documentary. This was probably the starting point for beginning to make conscious and educated decisions.
My current path is very different to the thoughts and feelings I had 5 years ago. I am incredibly concious of my consumption. I am now making educated choices every day to reduce my consumption, carbon footprint and use of animal by-products. I now only use vegan and cruetly-free beauty products and I’m working on completely eliminating eggs and cheese from my diet (they’re currently the only animal products I consume).
Which Monarc Jewellery pieces do you treasure?
Every single piece! I LOVE my Courbure ring in gold, I’ve worn it every day since I got it and have had so many people ask about it!
I think sustainability and conscious comsumption is a difficult thing to navigate, no one can fully stop their consumption (unless you want to move to a desert island and live off the land) so the best thing you can do is REDUCE. Reduce your meat intake (or fully stop it), reduce the plastic you use, reduce the takeaway coffee’s you drink, swap to biodegradable tampons and go for the vegan option at dinner!
Reduction is so important, modern life makes us want to consume, consume, consume so being conscious of what you use a daily basis is so important. I love Monarc Jewellery’s approach and value their stance and ethics completely.
I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Ella (such an amazing woman!) , and Sarah (see her photography here) whose photography is incredible, I love the mix of film and digital in these photos!