Gallery: SUSTAINABLE JEWELRY: Kirsten Muenster

 

Kirsten Muenster is a jewelry designer committed to ethical production. Her designs allow the stones’ natural beauty to take center stage, supporting without overwhelming. Similar to good food, when you find something beautiful in nature, a minimal approach is the best way to let it shine. I discovered Kirsten’s jewelry last year and wasn’t sure about the environmental slant, so I inquired. Kirsten responded and I’ll let her following words speak for herself….

“I encourage the use of materials that have the least devastating impact on the environment and it’s people. I don’t use stones like diamonds or tanzanite because they are not well regulated and the sale of these stones has been proven to aid terrorist organizations. I only work with stones whose cultivation does not promote unfair labor practices. I use stones that are mined in the United States by people and dealers I’ve come to know and trust. I do a lot of my own stone cutting from rock mined in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s. I also recycle many stones from old or vintage pieces and the fossils in my work are only acquired from privately owned land.

The little gold I do use is mostly for accents on the silver pieces. The gold is all refined using old jewelry from my mother and from clients that want gold in their pieces. Gold mining is a very dirty industry. It is associated with human rights abuses and environmental devastation in third world countries. There is enough “old” gold out there to recycle.

I try to make good choices with my stones, to understand where they come from and whose lives they may impact. I will continue to explore even more conscious and sustainable options for my jewelry materials. I am always open to learning new and better approaches.”

+Kirsten Muenster

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10 Comments

  1. Cehr October 14, 2011 at 3:03 am

    Hi, I was wondering what type of materials you were using?

  2. kristina October 27, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    creative and thoughtful- well played kristen!

  3. kirsten October 18, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    I wanted to respond to the comments made by jk:

    I agree that jewelry isn’t always sustainable. It’s not the correct word to describe my collection – and that is why I don’t use it. It may refer to some of the materials I use, but not everything.

    Jewelry is certainly NOT the most replaceable product out there. If it’s well made and the design isn’t catering to a fleeting trend or style, then it can be timeless. My pieces can last a lifetime and be passed down from generation to generation.

    My jewelry is designed and crafted to last beyond current trends. The pieces are comfortable and wearable; most people that own my work wear it everyday! I wore the same rings for over twelve years. They improved with age, developing a beautiful patina and look that never stopped drawing people in. That’s what my jewelry is about. It’s not disposable. It’s not cheap, dinky, trendy junk for $20 that ends up tangled in your jewelry box.

    Regarding your comment about not needing jewelry to survive – how sad! Technically you may be right, but what a boring and depressing world it would be without this form of art, design and expression. Jewelry has been an integral part of every culture and every time period since humans roamed this earth. Jewelry objects have been found in pre-historic Africa that date back about 75,000 years. Jewelers as artists are evident throughout history and this art form has been practiced in almost every condition in which civilizations have existed.

    It is important to know that you can have a beautifully designed piece of jewelry made with interesting, recycled and repurposed materials whose cultivation does not fund corrupt organizations or promote unfair labor practices.

  4. Paul October 16, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous jewelery! I am in awe…..

  5. jk October 16, 2007 at 6:34 am

    NO PRODUCT IS TRULY SUSTAINABLE …. BECAUSE YOUR PUTTING ANOTHER PRODUCT INTO THE MARKET

    ESPECIALLY JEWELRY ….. THE MOST REPLACEABLE AND FASHION CONSCIENCE PRODUCT THERE IS !!!!!

    IS WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT NOT TO PRODUCE ANYTHING AT ALL !!!!!

    ITS NOT LIKE WE HAVE TO HAVE JEWELRY TO SURVIVE !!! ITS SUCH A LUXURY … REGARDLESS OF HOW ITS MADE

  6. Kirsten October 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    In response to the question about the silver – I get my metal from Hoover & Strong. All the metal you see in my work, with the exception of the thin snake chain, is 100% recycled content. The chain is made in the US.

    Hoover & Strong provides socially and environmentally-responsible products and services. They respect basic human rights around the world and protect the environment by conserving energy and recycling.

    Here is a direct quote from their web site:
    “We want you to know that all precious metals at Hoover & Strong are recycled from the Earth’s existing metal supply. We DO NOT BUY metals from mining companies. We don’t believe in it and, as a refiner, we just don’t have to. We feel GREAT about that and you can too!”

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments and positive response to my work!

    Kirsten

  7. silverfilings October 10, 2007 at 2:34 am

    Nice work but may I inquire where does this artist get her silver from? It also has to be mined. Does it have the same impact as gold mining on the environment and workers?

  8. Shelldon October 8, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! Having been involved to some degree with the diamond mines of Africa your comments
    echo what I and a number of people have campaigned against for a long time. All the best Kirsten.

  9. Michael October 7, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Nice to see this consciousness extending to jewelry – so many people take it for granted that they must have a diamond for their engagement ring, without considering what that really entails for the people that worked the mines – and that Kimberly process is a joke. I’d rather buy a unique piece of jewelry crafted with love and respect for materials than get something manufactured and marketed by shady corporations like De Beers. Well done Kirsten, these pieces are beautiful…

  10. Will October 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    very nice.

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