Because I draw so much inspiration from the beauty of this precious planet, I feel a great sense of duty to both celebrate and protect it. When I started my own jewelry company, I knew that sustainability would be at the forefront of my philosophy. As a small business owner, I quickly learned the value of approaching every interaction with transparency and respect. Each piece of Kristen Baird® Jewelry is a reflection of myself, so I’m constantly striving to improve not only the quality of my products but my impact on my community and the world.
The best way to ensure the smallest possible carbon footprint from jewelry making is to use recycled materials. I’m proud to say that my primary metals supplier uses 100% recycled materials for the items I use most often. I can trust this perfect score because they are certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC.) To earn the RJC Certification, suppliers must go through a rigorous process that involves bringing in a third party, SCS Global Services. SCS specializes in evaluating organizations in a multitude of industries across the globe for sustainability practices.
My go-to supplier for silver components (such as earring backs, chains, and clasps) is Halstead. Located in Prescott, AZ, Halstead is a family-owned business committed to both sustainability and ethical business practices. They’ve been pushing the jewelry industry toward more transparency and have made huge strides toward sustainability in every aspect of their business, from the packaging they use to what plates they eat from in the break room! I also love Halstead because they give back to the jewelry industry through the Halstead Grant. (If you’re a jewelry designer, I highly recommend applying!) I won the Halstead Grant in 2017 and I occasionally write guest posts for their blog.
Opting to prioritize suppliers with high standards that use recycled materials is the first and most effective way to keep my own business sustainable.
Ethical Natural Diamonds
There is more to ethical jewelry-making than sustainability; there is also a human element. For many years, diamonds and gemstones were mined using abusive labor practices and conflict diamonds were used to finance wars. As the worldwide community has gained awareness of these unethical practices, we’ve taken important steps to stop them. The Kimberly Process (KP) is “a multilateral trade regime established in 2003 with the goal of preventing the flow of conflict diamonds.” Through the Kimberly Process, participating member countries and industries have succeeded in eliminating a full 99.8% of the worldwide trade of conflict diamonds.
In addition to generally searching for RJC certification, I specifically seek out Kimberly Certification when it comes to diamond suppliers so I can rest assured that I’m doing my part to stem violence and keep people safe.
I’m also a huge proponent of lab-grown gems. In addition to being beautiful authentic gemstones, these gems have less of a carbon footprint than mined gems. They are grown inside highly efficient furnaces that produce little waste, and many of the materials used to grow them can be reused. Because they are created in highly-controlled environments, we can also trust that the working conditions are safe and ethical. While I love natural gems and diamonds, I’m always eager to talk about the many benefits of lab-grown stones. If you’d like more information about lab stones, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Sustainability isn’t only about which materials I purchase; it’s also about how I work. I am extremely diligent about not wasting any materials, and I often reuse scraps from past projects. In fact, some of my favorite jewelry designs came about from experimenting with leftover materials. My Seashell Speckle necklace is a great example of a piece that is always made from materials recycled right in my own studio!
Giving Back: Time, Treasure, and Talent
Last but certainly not least, I am committed to giving back to my community with my time, treasure, and talent. I’m careful to choose local, family-owned businesses for my vendors, from casting jewelry pieces to photography. Kristen Baird® Jewelry also makes yearly donations to our favorite charity, the SD Gunner Fund. This incredible non-profit assists veterans, first responders, and exceptional children with the financial expense of obtaining and maintaining service dogs. A portion of every purchase from Kristen Baird® goes to support this wonderful organization.
Finally, when I was a student at SCAD, a wonderful jeweler and goldsmith gave me an internship. I learned so much from this opportunity, not only about jewelry-making but also about running a small business. It also helped me realize the benefits of the old-fashioned apprenticeship method of learning the art and craft of jewelry-making. Now, I pay it forward by offering internships and mentorship to exceptional SCAD students. Each year, I take a student into my studio to work alongside me for the academic year. My interns are treated as employees and always paid for their hard work. We both gain so much from the experience. So far, I’ve had twelve interns in total, many of whom have gone on to their own fabulous careers.
When I put my own name on Kristen Baird® Jewelry, I knew that the decisions I made as a business owner would send a signal about who I am. Sustainability, community engagement, and ethical practices are at the forefront of everything we do here, and I’m extremely proud to make jewelry that is inspired by nature, crafted by hand, and cherished forever.