Jewelry for Vegans
Seeing as most of my free time is spent making jewelry, it stands to reason that I have amassed quite the number of finished pieces. And despite my every effort to do so; one can only wear so many pieces of jewelry at a time…
It was for this reason, coupled with my joy of designing and creating jewelry, that my family and friends encouraged me to start a jewelry design business. Especially seeing as, after I had accumulated a wardrobe of jewelry items, it was only logical that I would move on to creating pieces for all of my friends and family.
Designing for specific people in mind had proved to be a challenge at first. Besides knowing what a person’s style may be, even if they love a particular design, they may maintain a lifestyle that influences what they can or will choose to wear.
For instance, some people may love the look of antique and vintage jewelry they may have an allergy to certain metals that make them unable to wear brass or a gold-plate, etc.
To provide me with my next challenge, my best friend recently converted to Veganism, (is that a word?). Her new lifestyle made many of the former pieces I made her, obsolete. So rather than have her go without jewelry made by yours truly, I knew I would have to re-think some of my designs she so loves, and customize them to better suit her new lifestyle.
Easy peasy- right?
I mean all I had to do was remake her leather bracelets using some sort of cotton cord in its place. But upon further thought and research, I soon realized that there were other things that may be off-limits for me to use. For one, that leather bracelet I was going to remake using cotton cord, had previously been made with silk thread. And seeing as silk is produced by an animal – the silk worm, of course- it was also unavailable for me to use in the updated Vegan-friendly design.
Upon a bit of digging through my numerous boxes of tools, beads and other materials, I found I could use Silamide- a waxed polyester beading thread- in lieu of the silk beading cord I had previously used.
I mean, I recognized my inability to use leather; but I truly had not even contemplated on the use of silk- I can’t even remember what it was that made me recognize this mistake…
Upon discussion with a customer at the bead shop I work at- I recognized that perhaps I ought to remake my feather earrings. The customer was asking for my help in making feather earrings for her, using some of the cruelty-free feathers she had. (The feathers had been purchased online from someone who collected feathers that had been naturally shed; (Or would it be considered molting when in reference to a bird? Hmmm)…
So therein lies the rub…I don’t know a gosh darn thing about being Vegan!
And was therefore, stressing as to how on earth I was going to figure out how to remake all of the pieces of jewelry I had made for this friend.
So I went to my b.f.f. and expressed just a bit of my frustration at the quandary I found myself in – that I knew her jewelry had to be re-made, seeing as she no longer wore any of the bracelets I had made for her; bracelets that she had worn continuously, (sleeping, showering, etc.), for months after receiving them.
To my relief, she informed me that the reason she wasn’t wearing her bracelets, or any jewelry at all for that matter, was due to the fact that she lived with her baby niece- who being only 1 year old- couldn’t quite grasp that whole: ‘What’s mine is mine’ thing. That with a baby around, you didn’t wear any jewelry simply because even if it managed to not get broken or damaged, it would inevitably end up being sucked and chewed on and dropped on the floor.
Furthermore, once she was able to resume wearing jewelry, she would still be donning the pieces I had previously made for her. Even though she was now vegan, she was more focused on the aspect of sustainability. In this respect, would it make sense to take something apart to discard certain of its pieces, to then purchase all new materials and use them to remake the piece in its former incarnation? Perhaps going forward, I can utilize sustainable, Vegan-friendly materials when designing for her, but to take and remake pieces of jewelry, just so they can be labeled as Vegan…
Well that just seems like a whole lot of waste to me.
A sample interaction between an uninformed customer and an artist on the price of one of his/her creations:
I'm just a girl with simple- albeit refined- tastes...