person holding and squishing a ball of wet clay in their hands

Jewelry & A Sustainable Wardrobe

How Handcrafted Ceramic (clay) Jewelry is Part of a Sustainable, Slow Fashion Wardrobe.

(Approx. 4 min. read)

Concerned about building a sustainable wardrobe? Let’s consider the role of jewelry.

close up of neutral color clothing on a white metal free standing clothing rack with a plant in front

You’ve heard all the terms buzzing around the fashion worldsustainable, ethical, eco-friendly, circular fashion, supply chains, greenwashing, on and on...and. on. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum or journey to understand and embrace the subject, it's an issue to accept and address for the long haul, but what about jewelry?

The jewelry industry has its own issues with environmental and social impacts, but we don’t really hear much about it. Why? Probably because jewelry is technically NOT part of the fashion industry even though it’s closely linked since it often relies on trends. Huh? (Seriously, it’s not factored into the fashion marketplace. I know, weird.)

First, a recap on slow fashion. Sustainable or ‘slow’ fashion is an approach to minimize the negative impact of the industry on the environment and society. A movement that encourages consumers to buy fewer, higher quality, and more durable clothing items, rather than constantly buying and discarding fast fashion pieces.

racks of clothing attached to a white wall with a neon sign above that says "being naked is the number one sustainable option. We are number two."

So, let’s bring jewelry into the conversation and explore why ceramic jewelry can be part of a sustainable wardrobe. There are several reasons:

1. Durability - Ceramic is durable, long-lasting and made to stand the test of time. Humans have been using the material for over 24,000 years! With proper care, ceramic jewelry can last for years or even decades. This means that we can wear pieces for years to come, reducing the need to constantly replace our jewelry and reducing waste.

hands rolling out ceramic clay on a table

2. Natural materials - Made from natural materials, it's a sustainable choice. Most ceramics are made from clay, which is abundant in nature and can be sustainably sourced. Many artists use eco-friendly practices, such as using non-toxic glazes and recycling clay scraps. Choosing ceramic jewelry over pieces made from synthetic materials (like polymer clay, which is plastic) or metals that require large amounts of energy to extract and refine (more info on a metals in future posts), we can reduce our environmental footprint. 

Low environmental impact: Ceramic is a natural and non-toxic material that is often locally sourced. Production doesn't require large amounts of energy or toxic chemicals. 

3. Slow fashion by design - If created thoughtfully, ceramic jewelry is a natural part of the movement. Small batch production minimizes waste and reduces the carbon footprint associated with mass production. Individuals are also encouraged to choose quality over quantity and invest in pieces that will last, since each piece is handcrafted and unique. 

Image of woman wearing white earrings from the Courtney Collection

Unique and personal: As opposed to traditional jewelry, artisan-made jewelry is often one-of-a-kind and highly original. This individuality allows consumers to express their personal style while supporting small businesses and independent artists. 

4. Socially Responsible - Finally, it’s a socially responsible choice. Artisan-made jewelry is often produced by small, independent businesses or artists who prioritize ethical and sustainable practices. Many work out of their homes or small studios and rely on the support of their customers to make a living. By choosing to buy from these artists, we are supporting sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry.

It's also a way to promote cultural diversity and preserve traditional crafts. Many artisans use traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations, and supporting their work helps to keep these traditions alive.

Final thoughts… As we become more aware of the impact that fast fashion has on the environment and society, jewelry should be part of the conversation. It can be part of a sustainable wardrobe if we educate ourselves on materials, processes, and their impacts on people and the planet.

A word of CAUTION. With a massive flood of ‘hand-made’ products on the market there is a ton of misinformation. For instance, if something is made in small batches, but out of a problematic material, can we call it sustainable? Can we call it ethical if the results of selling the good at a low price leaves a ‘maker’ receiving less than a living wage? (Ahem … hobby markets & DIY craft fairs… more on this another time.) Question everything. 

two women embracing wearing original quad necklaces by GRAMMAR

GRAMMAR exists to support the historic use of ceramic and its inherent unique qualities for creating unusual pieces with a focus on timeless designs that you'll wear often. Sustainability and responsibility are very important to the brand. Follow along on the journey to unpack how we might continue to celebrate life through the arts while being responsible makers & consumers.

w/GRAMMAR, Sarah Abend (founder/designer/artisan)

Picture of founder and designer of grammar, Sarah Abend





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