*Ask Me About It
If how it's made matters, then what it is made with matters also.
Everything I make is made with materials that come from the earth and can be returned to the earth. If needed, the metals can always be melted down for re-use or in the case of silver, gold, and some of the stones I use, as a commodity. Where I get my materials matters. I am trying my best to be responsible as far as sourcing and sustainability. It's baby steps for now, but I am toddling along.
I am creating more and more 100% recycled metal pieces. Why? Because A.) I have a lot of scraps B.) Jewelry should be worn, so if it's just sitting in a drawer, melt it down and make it into something that sees the light of day. C.) Why mine more when there is plenty of metal to be reused? I am working to one day being totally 100% recycled in my Sterling silver and gold pieces, but baby steps.
For now, any "new" metal materials I use are sourced from Rio Grande. But, even those are sometimes manufactured from refined/reclaimed metals. Metals have lived many lives dating back thousands of years.
My Recycling Process
I melt scraps that come from the fabrication process, old designs, old and/or broken jewelry. Once the metal is molten, I pour it into an ingot mold. The shape is determined by whether I will be rolling out sheet, wire and/or bezel wire. Then I run the ingot through my rolling mill...well, I have to anneal the metal (heat with a torch) and quench it (drop it in water), roll it, anneal the metal and quench it, roll it...times, like 100 sometimes to make the type of material I need. Sometimes, I hammer the metal between annealings and rollings to help things along. It's a very physical, hands-on process.
I often get asked at in-person events "where do you get your stones from?". I am proud to source my stones from some wonderful people. Most often they are people that I interact with face-to-face or have met in person and later order online. I do my best to vet the few online stone sellers I source from…most are small, women-led businesses. All of my stones are hand (screen) selected by me or by the vendor based on what they know I would want to work with. I am blessed to work directly with a local lapidary artist that sources most of her material from two families that she has traveled to see their operations first-hand and spent time with their families. A fellow metalsmith acquires HUGE lots of "deadstock" vintage + antique cut stones and gets them out of a box and back in to artist's hands. Another vendor sources her stones directly from artisan miners in Ethiopia...some of the most vibrant emeralds and sapphires (plus, many other gemstones). She is commited to helping them maintain their businesses to support their families and helps provide access to educational workshops so they can learn more skills to earn more for their hard work.
While it's not a quick answer...I can be chatty...I think it conveys the care that goes into selecting the stones I am currently working with. I would love - one day - to maybe mine, lap/facet, and set a stone...like a "mine-to-mounting" (dude, did I just make that up!?!) type thing, but for now #goals.