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Why you should start buying handmade jewellery

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

For as long as we can remember, jewellery has been a significant accessory in our day to day lives. Throughout time it has become a symbol of status, prosperity, self-expression, love, commitment, the list goes on. But the symbol of jewellery is ever changing, especially with the income of fast fashion and the influx of mass produced cheap jewellery. So if you're interested to find out why our items contain a much higher price tag than your average high-street fashion-chain shop, this is the post for you.

What is the difference between mass produced jewellery and handmade jewellery?

A clue is in the name, mass produced jewellery is created quickly in large volumes. Most of this jewellery comes from countries such as India and China, where labourers work in an assembly line.They do not have time to quality check each item to perfection, they simply only have time to do their job. The pressure put on these labourers can be very harsh and the pay is extremely poor. Often they will be paid a certain amount per item they produce, therefore the quicker they do one item, the more money they can make. In these countries there often tends to be a lack of regulations and safe guards for workers, and it is known there are numerous factories which also incite slave labour. Furthermore, where regulations aren't as strict or the difference in regulations from country to country change, the use of improper cheaper materials also increases. For example if you were to test items sourced from these factories you may find elements with Nickel, Cadmium or Lead which is restricted in the UK due to health and safety concerns. Furthermore, you may even find that some materials claiming to be authentic such as gemstones are in fact fake.

Whereas when it comes to handmade jewellery, it is a craft and a specialism of the maker. Copies tend to be made in small quantities but usually things are often created one by one with everything being hand finished and quality checked. When working in this manner it gives you time to concentrate on each separate process and treat each piece with love and care. The maker also knows their sourcing information and can help you with any enquires they may state about their work. For example at Jewellery by Eilatan we aim to be as eco conscious as possible in our practice therefore source recycled metals and genuine gemstones which are mined ethically to ensure we don't damage our environment. Furthermore when it comes to creating jewellery in places such as Europe or America, the regulations are much tougher to ensure the quality of metals is truly met. For example in the UK, any Gold over 1g and any Silver of 7.78g must legally be hallmarked. This means the jewellery must be sent to an Assay Office who test each item ensuring it is what you are classing it as, if this is failed to be done then you can be held accountable by law due to it being an offence. This has been brought in due to the issues of items being faked and sold as genuine precious metals. By hallmarking jewellery, we are protecting the integrity of precious metals. The other beautiful aspect of handmade jewellery is that each piece is unique, especially if the maker creates one of a kind items or bespoke pieces. The traditions of true self-expression when it comes to jewellery are upheld and respected.

So is cheap jewellery always bad?

Whilst I can't sit here and tell you all cheap jewellery is bad, I can tell you that cheap jewellery won't last as long, won't be the quality of handmade jewellery and you may not be getting what it is totally claimed to be. Typically the higher the price tag, the higher the quality. In a perfect world I wouldn't want anyone to waste their time on mass produced jewellery as there's so much ambiguity about what it is - from the working conditions it was made it, to the metal used and even if the gemstones it contains are even real. With all that said cheap jewellery can't be 'cancelled' just yet. Whilst sustainable slow fashion is the way forward, it is not always accessible for those who don't have the income or accessibility to access it. Everyone should have the opportunity to dress themselves up in beautiful jewels but I think education is still key. I want people to know what they're buying and feel confident in the products they're paying for. So I will leave you here with some tips on what you can do to find sustainable jewellery that works for you:

  • Bespoke jewellery doesn't have to be crazy expensive. If you want something made but don't have a huge budget, talk to us or your preferred jeweller to see what options you have. We'll try our best to work inline with your budget, and if it's still too much we offer payment via Clearpay who allow you to pay in monthly instalments interest free (given that you pay on time each month).

  • Sign up to jewellers mailing lists so you can cop a discount when offered.

  • Consider alternative materials. Brass and Copper still make beautiful pieces of jewellery (we even offer them from time to time!), Polymer Clay, Steel, Macrame. There are so many options out there.

  • Upcycling jewellery. Have an earring with its mate? Or a ring that doesn't fit? An heirloom that's not your style? We might be able to help you. Depending on the materials used, we can either fix your items up or create you a brand new piece using elements from you original piece. You don't have to chuck it away and lose hope on it.

  • Source second-hand/vintage jewellery (although please be careful when it comes to earrings/body jewellery for hygienic reasons).

  • Support small jewellery makers

Love, Eilatan x

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