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NEWSLETTERS > Organic Jewelry by Maire Loughran
Organic Jewelry by Maire Loughran

Aug 4, 2010

Organic Jewelry
Can Metal or Gemstone Adornment Be Organic?
Dec 14, 2008 Maire Loughran


The terms organic and eco-friendly have become two of the most overused terms of 2008. They have been attached to everything from jewelry to plastic bags.

The question is whether it is possible for jewelry to even be organic. After all what is organic? Basically, an organic product is one made in an environmentally friendly fashion and is biodegradable. The benchmark for food products is that no pesticides or harmful chemicals are used during the growth process. The same facts are true for organic clothing, usually made with cotton.

How Does This Trickle Down to Jewelry?

Jewelry is divided into three camps: organic forms, organic processes and organic product.

This labeling of organic is slightly deceptive. In most cases, the jewelry artist is inspired by nature and deems the jewelry organic. For example, twisting wire into the shape of tree branches and fabricating a pair of earrings or designing a pendant in the shape of a ginkgo leaf. Nature is an awesome source of inspiration for any artist. However, to label jewelry as organic simple because the inspiration for the design came from a tree is somewhat absurd.

Organic Processes

It is kind of impossible for precious metal or gemstones to come from organic processes. There are gemstones containing organic carbon, such as some diamonds. However, metal and gemstones are not living things and have never been living things. When referring to jewelry made from fabric or materials such as hemp, linen and silk, depending on how the raw material was produced, it is possible to have some sort of an organic origin.

Living Creatures Converted to Jewelry

Yikes! This is the most horrifying. It seems an oxymoron to make jewelry from a living creature and boast about it being organic. Some examples of organics are pearls, coral and jewelry made from animal horn. Many people find wearing jewelry made from these materials objectionable. Luckily there are many faux alternatives from which to choose.

Mourning Jewelry - Organic Carbon Based Jewelry

This tradition dating back ages is becoming vogue once again. That is, wearing jewelry made from the dead. Gemstones containing the loved one’s carbon can be created either from their cremated remains or from a lock of hair. Certainly, this is one example of truly organic jewelry.

Parting Words About Eco-Friendly Jewelry

The hallmark of eco-friendly jewelry is the reuse of raw materials, most frequently the capture and reuse of precious metal scraps. This is not exactly a 2008 innovation. Jewelers have been doing this probably since the first piece of body adornment was made. Sterling silver and karated gold are expensive. Reusing metal scraps is fairly easy. Doing so reduces cost of goods sold and increases the bottom line for a jewelry business.


© 2008 Maire Loughran