Let's talk sustainability
We believe that jewelry has one job and it is to bring joy to people. So we work hard to create fun, functional, beautiful jewelry that really works. But we can’t do that alone.
While we love jewelry, we love the human race even more, which is why we are committed to adopting ethical sourcing and development practices and to approaching running our business with respect to the environment, to the communities impacted by our industry, from the way we source and transport our gems, to how we support our partners and how we deliver great jewelry to our customers.
To us at Marla Aaron, sustainability is a broader, all-encompassing commitment to doing good across all these dimensions…beyond the commonly known environmentally-sound practices, efforts to revert climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For us, being a responsible business includes human rights efforts, gender and economic equality, fair wages, and work conditions, social and institutional improvements, being transparent to all our stakeholders about where we are making progress and where we are still struggling to do the right thing.
Perhaps that sounds cliché….perhaps even too broad...some of our goals are very practical and well underway…and some are longer-term objectives.
Let me take this opportunity to dive into some of the things we are trying to do as a small business based in New York City. This is a “work in progress” because we really believe that we are constantly learning what it means to be a conscious, responsible business, so as we learn more, we plan to do more.
Who we work with - Small local workshops and talented professionals
Our collection is mostly made here in New York City, in small workshops --some of whom we have been working with since the beginning of the company in 2012.
We know and respect how they operate. Whenever possible, we work with them to acquire new technology or adapt their practices to newer and cleaner standards.
Each one of our suppliers or business partners goes through an extensive vetting process, through which we learn their practices, capabilities, and social commitments. They must abide by all existing US legislation, such as the Patriot Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and UN protocols, such as the Kimberley Process. They also must share our values and want to be better tomorrow than they are today.
We know their employees and their families and take our role and responsibility in their livelihood very seriously. Our success is also theirs, and without their commitment to us, we would fail in our commitments to our clients.
Working with local, New York City-based, small businesses also allows us to contribute to the health and well-being of our own industry, and hopefully, our commitment allows them to stay in New York instead of sending more of these specialized jobs overseas. Additionally, we avoid further contributing to climate change through extensive international shipments of raw materials and goods, all of which are typically done by carbon footprint-heavy air transport.
Occasionally, a special project requires us to seek a talented individual or manufacturer with a unique set of skills, wherever they are. We love collaborating with extraordinary makers, engravers, gem cutters, and illustrators, who make our world richer by sharing their expertise with us. We value their artistry and will always recognize them for their contributions.
Beyond craftsmanship and design.
100% Recycled Gold
We use certified, 100% recycled gold in our designs
92.5% Recycled Silver
While 100% of the silver content in our silver pieces is also recycled, the complete alloy blend used in these designs contains 7.5% content that is a blend of other metals. We are working with our suppliers to achieve 100% recycled content in our silver alloy as well.
Other Metals and Materials
We have not made as much progress adopting the use of recycled Platinum or brass, but we continue to investigate options to source those in more responsible manners. We are also investigating the use of many alternative metals like titanium, aluminum, and materials like ceramic or lab-created gems. We like diversity at all levels and the expanded options these materials offer. We will keep you posted when we find the right way to add them to our collections.
Our Gemstones, and the use of words like traceable, ethical, or fair-trade.
In recent years much has been discussed about increasing transparency of the gem-trade supply chain, and a few new practices came to represent excellence in that space. Some gemstone sources are now called “fair trade,” which means their origin, extraction processes, and characteristics are well documented, communicated, and certified, ensuring that information will be transmitted to the final consumer. This also means they are truly traceable from the origin.
“Ethically sourced” gems present a more complex paradigm and are in line with our own holistic approach to sustainability, human rights and our long-term goals. These gems are sourced through environmentally responsible mining practices, where workers are treated fairly, respectfully, and ethically throughout the supply chain.
Today our special colored gemstones are ethically sourced from responsible mines in East Africa through our partnership with Anza Gems, who supports these artisanal mining communities, specifically female miners in the region, through a non-profit called Gem Legacy.
Every year we source a substantial supply of small-sized, precision-cut, colored stones to be used in our many stoned locks. So far, a modest amount of those are traceable directly to their mine of origin, but all of them are responsibly sourced from select stone dealers whom we trust and have worked with for many years. We are actively searching for more ethical colored gemstone suppliers. Our goal is to achieve a 50% responsible and traceable supply of colored stones by the end of 2024, and 80% by the end of 2025.
Our Diamonds, Carbon-Neutral & Independently Certified
We exclusively use diamonds that come from a certified carbon-neutral supplier. That means our Diamond partner has made incredible efforts to not only offset the GHG emissions of their entire operation, effectively achieving a Net-Zero Carbon Footprint, but they are also engaged in a long-term process of reducing carbon emissions and replacing the use of fossil fuels and other forms of energy supply with renewable energy sources. Their carbon neutrality status is certified by an independent global auditor.
We only buy diamonds that have also been certified through the Kimberley process, which imposes extensive requirements on the trade and a system of verifications that certifies shipments of rough diamonds as 'conflict-free' and prevents conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
All of our diamonds over 0.50 carats are also certified by independent gemological labs like IGI or GIA.
In early 2024 we are retiring our existing packaging line and replacing it with compostable, recyclable, and reusable options. While 100% of our packaging line is sustainable and reusable, from time to time, we make a small number of boxes for special pieces. By the end of 2024, we plan to offer those in vegan or alternative leather materials as well.
The Journey Ahead
To be continued
Our teams are now working on our next set of objectives and what will our long-term sustainability journey look like. We are very focused on how we can continue to improve our practices based on the beliefs we just shared with you, but not at the detriment or expense of our treasured relationships and long-term collaborators.
Some of our next actions will focus on
- Reducing our shipping carbon footprint by working exclusively with carriers that offer green shipping options like the UPS green shipping program (add link).
- Reducing our travel-related GHG emissions by better managing our air travel and car travel. This will include choosing to fly with carriers that offer offsetting programs at a corporate level and further allow passengers to also offset their portion of a specific flight’s carbon footprint (like Delta and Jet Blue in the US, Lufthansa in Europe, and others)
- Continue to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by choosing electric-powered vehicles and other forms of green energy transportation
- Continue to educate ourselves and make thoughtful sensible choices, from energy providers to our offices, to the products we stock in our pantries, to committing to printing less and using less paper and energy wherever possible.
For many in our industry, the path toward a sustainable future goes through endorsing their efforts through third-party certification of their traceable supply chain and business practices. We believe in that too, but not just that.
Conservation and environmental protection cannot come at the expense of human rights, social and communal development, or at the expense of small businesses. We don’t have a solution, but we hope we can take constructive and measured steps in this journey that will benefit not only our business, partners, and customers but hopefully also create a balanced approach to what it means to be sustainable.
while we love jewelry, we love the human race even more.
We will, as always (since 2015), invite you to nominate a single mom you know, and we will send her a heartlock with a “!” engraved on it for the “!” of motherhood.
This is our way of thanking single moms for all they do, and this thank you is especially poignant when children are too small to say thank you or “Happy Mother’s Day” themselves, which is coincidentally the most intense time of parenting.
Locks we gave away over the years:
- 2015: 50
- 2016: 100
- 2017: 200
- 2018: 400
- 2019: 800
- 2020: 1,000
- 2021: 1,500
- 2022: 1,500
- 2023: 1,500
In support of single mothers
The exclamation point!
Over 7,000 locks given away since launching Lock Your Mom.
"Take a Seat"
In 2021, during this sad and complicated COVID time, for many in the restaurant industry, the continuity of their businesses and livelihoods was at stake. As a small independent business, we started this project where 100% of the proceeds above cost - or $200 of each sale - was donated to World Central Kitchen – the organization founded by Chef Jose Andres.
In 2022, we asked you to "Take a Seat" with us yet again where 100% of the proceeds from this object and charm has gone to World Central Kitchen who was helping to provide meals to refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Here is how Marla announced it:
Equity & Inclusion
We value diversity in our employees and our partners.
We pay a fair and equitable wage and are constantly seeking ways to improve the lives of our employees. We also believe in creating opportunities for our people to grow within the company, carve their paths, and participate in a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding, and collaborative.