Saturday, March 13, 2010

Earthworks cites eco-luxe jewelry designer Alberto Parada in recent report

In February, Earthworks released its findings on how jewelers and retailers fared in ethical sourcing of metals. The DC-based advocacy group behind the No Dirty Gold Campaign rated 39 jewelers between February and October 2009.

Among the small jewelry designers was Alberto Parada. The award-winning eco-luxe designer received a B grade, which translates to 11 points earned in 16 areas. His signatory to the No Dirty Gold Campaign puts him in the company of 20 retailers and designers in the small to medium-sized jewelers category. Brilliant Earth earned top billing with 13 points (grade A).

The signatories of the No Dirty Gold campaign’s “Golden Rules” principles agree to use cleaner gold suppliers. These suppliers must adhere to 10 tenants of protecting workers, communities and the environment. Parada uses 100% recycled gold and buys metals and diamonds from certified mines in Canada. His gems are sourced from Brazil in raw and cut locally.

In two-short years, Parada has gained national attention for his luxurious line thanks to collaboration on the runway with leading fashion designers and features in national publications such as Organic Spa and Boho. For the former jewelry appraiser turned designer, the real achievement is raising the profile of eco-jewelry.

“It is not enough to educate retailers on the importance of sustainable jewelry, but the consumers must be equally aware,” the DC designer says.

Consumers have played a critical role in exposing the fashion industry’s supply practices through anti-sweatshop and “shaming” campaigns. The jewelry industry is not indifferent to the repercussions of societal impacts. Earthworks’ depiction of the gold industry as “one of the dirtiest industries” is supported by claims that the average large gold mine uses 1,900 tons of cyanide per year and a single gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste.

“It is amazing the amount of waste that occurs,” Parada echoes. “I choose to use recycled gold because I believe it is the right thing to do.”

In addition to signing the Golden Rules (GR), Parada has conduced a supply audit, shared the audit results with the No Dirty Campaign, and incorporated the GR into his policies and contracts.

The self-taught designer carries that spirit of transparency into the design process from the initial sketch to the goldsmith’s touch. His sketches are a study in architecture and color – a Frank Lloyd Wright meets Georgia O’Keefe – creating a visual for honesty and self-expression. The “Roman” ring, in particular, demonstrates the harmonic blend of three gold bands (yellow, white and rose) fastened by a strip of three inset diamonds, perhaps a symbolic gesture for creating a platform for different worldviews working toward a common good.

In May, Parada will launch his spring/summer collection with an unveiling at Mystique Jewelers. The collection boasts more rose gold, moonstone, and onyx, the latter a new addition to Parada’s oeuvre of stones.

To learn more about Earthworks, visit their Web site and download the Tarnished Gold? Assessing the jewelry industry’s progress on ethical sourcing of metals report.