As passionate as I am about creating my own jewelry, I'm also just as passionate about teaching others. I've been teaching jewelry classes for over ten year throughout New York City and have published two books. In the last year started to offer online classes. It's been so much fun to connect with people eager to learn more around the globe! I am always looking for more ways to have the most "green" studio (and home). Here are some of my favorite ways to create the most eco friendly jewelry and studio environment.
1. Purchase recycled metal
So many suppliers offer recycled metal and it's such an easy option. Jewelry suppliers like Rio Grande, Hoover & Strong and United Precious Refining are just a few that offer a huge range of recycled metals. If you're working with a metal caster, look for someone who can supply recycled metals, like Daniel Casting. Some casters even allow you to return sprus to be reused in the process.
2. Recycle your own scrap
At the end of each work day I sweep up my jewelry bench and floor to collect "sweeps". We add all of these sweeps to a bin which we then send to a refiner, like United Previous Refining to get melted down and be turned into recycled material. I separate my hard scraps, or the bigger pieces of metal to be melted down. Alternatively you can melt down yourself by adding a pinch of borax to help pull out impurities in a crucible or a charcoal block with a well carved out.
3. DIY eco friendly pickle
Conventional "pickle", often a brand called Sparax is a mild acid used in a jewelry studio to clean oxidation off of metal after heating it up with a torch. I try to avoid chemicals in my studio at all costs, so I make my own!
In your studios crock pot, warm 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and add 1/4 cup of table salt. Stir until dissolved. This stuff works great!
4. Dish soap in the tumbler
Instead of using tumbling compound, add a drop or two of mild dish soap to create a similar lubrication with your pieces and tumbler shot.
5. Limit plastic in packaging
Try to wrap jewelry in recycled paper and jewelry pouch to give a finished look without using plastic poly bags more commonly used. I also like to recycle the plastic polybags we get a ton of (from our caster, supplies, etc) when we need to use them. To give a cleaner look, use a blank sticker over the recycled bag to write info on.
6. Recycled packaging
Since we all get deliveries, why not reuse the packaging! I've found that customers don't mind, and often are happy when boxes and materials are reused. We made stickers to add to the boxes letting customers know that it's recycled and to pass it on.
7. Recyclable paper tape
It has the same strong hold and allows you to recycle the boxes after use and you don't have to use plastic tape which just goes into the garbage.
8. Up-cycle and re-purpose gemstones from previous projects or thrifted jewelry.
Instead of purchasing newly manufactured gems, find stones to reuse for your project. A lot of diamond suppliers, like Rough Diamond World offer recycled gemstones for purchase.
9. Use lab created or uncut gemstones
Try to offset the energy used, pollutants created and unfair mining practices in the gemstone industry by using lab created stones. Rio Grande has a great selection of lab created stones. Rough and uncut gemstones are great also great options.