What’s Old is New Again… and Sparkly

Upcycled jewelry, such as this necklace made from recycled paper, offers an interesting, unique look.

When it comes to purchasing jewelry, it’s hard to know exactly where it comes from, how it’s sourced and who’s making it. Fortunately enough for folks living in the greater New Hampshire and Vermont regions, there are an abundance of shops that take pride in sourcing their jewelry (and other items) virtuously and sustainably.

Buying sustainable and ethical jewelry ensures the products are sourced reliably and are “conflict-free” while having minimal impact on the environment. In addition, workers providing the product are paid fair wages and guaranteed a safe work setting.

W.R. Metalarts is an excellent place to start. As firm believers in ethically created jewelry and sustainably sourced materials, this jewelry shop ensures to prioritize workers’ rights and is extremely conscious of their environmental impact. The Brattleboro-based shop works alongside local small family-owned stone suppliers and miners and utilizes fair-mined metals and gems, all while supporting other fellow small businesses with strong environmentally conscious intentions.

The husband-and-wife duo, Will and Rosie, created the business with the goal of ensuring they are creating jewelry “with a story they can feel good about.” They try to source their stones primarily from the United States, citing on their website that Vermont grows blood red and deep orange garnets; Montana is home to large deposits of rubies and sapphires, and Maine has green and pink/peach tourmaline, amethyst, aquamarine and morganite — all are ones they have sourced from before.

Meanwhile, Goldsmith Gallery in Concord is another excellent place to purchase fine jewelry with recycled metals and ethically sourced gemstones. In addition to repairing everything on-site, this five-year-old business creates one-of-a-kind gold, silver and platinum bridal and all-occasion jewelry for clients of all visions. Goldsmith Gallery has also created candlesticks, flatware and metal purses before, and are happy to redesign old or worn-out pieces of clients’ jewelry. The staff has a variety of experience in fields that have proven extremely relevant to jewelry design, including fashion design, goldsmithing, gemology and general craftsmanship, bringing diverse perspectives to the jewelry-making process.

Although the two shops mentioned above are predominately focused on jewelry making, there are plenty of small businesses within the Monadnock region that take pride in a myriad of other ethically sourced materials on a national and international scale. For instance, Joseph’s Coat in Peterborough is more like a gallery than a business; the well-informed staff treat the product like art rather than mere objects. There is an ever-changing inventory, with new products arriving each week from all over the globe. The shop offers an array of batik wraps, felted bags, flax, linen, silk, cotton, tapestries, rugs, embroidered pieces, baskets, necklaces, rings, and bracelets. As many as 65 nations have been represented in the shop since its official opening back in 2006. The woman-owned business takes pride in safeguarding the small crafts industries and villages that had formerly lacked direct access to international markets.

Perhaps a more well-known shop in the greater Keene area is the Hannah Grimes Marketplace, located in downtown Keene. The Marketplace opened in 1997 with the idea to keep local artisans’ work alive and well by creating a space for them to generate and sell their crafts. In addition to their wide array of local handmade lotions and soaps, gourmet food and wine, home goods, and fine arts and apparel, they have a wide selection of fine jewelry to choose from. Some of their items include local rings and bracelets made of recycled flatware, drop earrings crafted by Geo-Graphic Gems (a small New Hampshire-based business that makes jewelry from recycled National Geographic magazines), pedant necklaces designed with Mt. Monadnock in mind, and more. This well-established shop has helped local crafters expand their clientele, all while boosting the local economy and morale within the community.

Sourcing products in a sustainable and ethical way not only encourages the growth of local artisans and small villages around the world, but it makes the buyer feel good about what they’re purchasing. Nurturing an ecosystem that helps small businesses thrive simply feels good.