Valuing ethics as highly as design, Hargreaves Stockholm are trailblazing new standards in fine jewellery. We spoke to founder and designer Jemima Hargreaves for the lowdown on what it means to be an ethical brand.
How would you describe Hargreaves Stockholm to someone who’s never heard of you before?
We’re a fine jewellery brand that creates modern, wearable fine jewellery that also happens to have been created as ethically as possible. We focus on working ethically and using responsibly sourced materials like Fairmined Ecological Gold – where the artisan miners are paid a premium, the communities are supported and no mercury or cyanide is used in the extraction process. We currently focus on using “non-mined” stones that are created for us rather than working with traditionally mined diamonds and sapphires that have a huge social and environmental impact. We’re looking into responsibly-mined stones, but we would have to be very certain that they were slavery and conflict-free as well, as properly supporting the community where they are mined. We also create our own sustainably-sourced cork packaging in-house with robotic technology.
How did Hargreaves Stockholm come about?
Having done my goldsmith apprenticeship nearly 20 years ago, I have managed large and small scale workshops for bespoke, production and film projects. My plan was always to start my own brand and as soon as I started seeing responsible options within the industry I knew I had to do everything in my power to work sustainably. To use technology and new materials to create perfect pieces – both ethically and in terms of design and production.
Can you explain how you work to be an ethical brand?
Each design is researched meticulously so that we can use the most responsible materials possible and can perfect our designs. With some pieces it has taken years to find the balance between perfection and sustainability. I won’t compromise on perfection, but I also won’t compromise on ethics. If there isn’t the perfect balance between the two, we don’t create the collection. Huge amounts of time go into searching for responsible materials. If we can’t find the right material or product that meets our standards we often have to create something to suit our needs. There is so much innovation and technology out there and so many exciting possibilities.
Was the ethical element a priority from day one?
At the beginning of my apprenticeship it was just accepted that the jewellery industry worked in an irresponsible way. I was always uncomfortable with what that really meant and that unease just increased when I did my DGA (Diamond membership of the Gemmological Association) and learned about diamond mining and the negative environmental and social impact that it has. As my career has progressed the industry has started to change and Fairmined and Fairtrade gold has become available, consumers are becoming aware of their options and are asking where materials come from and some stone producers are starting to work more responsibly. Many jewellery retailers haven’t yet become comfortable with responsible sourcing but when the time was right for me to start my own brand I knew I had to do everything in my power to work responsibly.
Does this make the way you work different from other fine jewellery brands?
Committing to working responsibly can be a huge undertaking. Working for other companies where I could just order a selection of materials was far easier than the route I have now chosen, but I don’t regret it for a minute. When designing a new collection, it can take years to hunt down the right products. It also makes us push the boundaries and find cutting edge materials and technologies that can be really exciting. We use traditional and modern production methods side-by-side, as many fine jewellery brands do, but we keep production in-house to ensure quality and ethical standards are met.