When people ask me why I founded Oriad, there is one story that goes something like this:
In February 2020, an old friend of mine and her husband visited us in London for a weekend. Somehow, over G&Ts, we started talking about the mark-ups that our favourite luxury brands charge for their jewelry. I always knew that mark-ups in the industry were high, but had no idea how high. A lot of it has to do with the material and craftsmanship of course, but for most of the well-known brands, you mainly pay for the brand.
After they left for the weekend, my husband and I kept talking. We talked about the seemingly unfair, unjustified prices. About fashion jewelry and fine jewelry. About the fact that most people simply cannot afford fine jewelry and with no real choice, have to resort to fashion jewelry instead. We talked about the lifetime of fashion jewelry and how many pieces I myself had bought that I could no longer wear because instead of gold, they now looked orange, black or green.
THE IMPACT OF FAST FASHION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
In recent years, consumers have become much more aware of the devastating impact that the fashion industry (and particularly fast fashion) has on the environment:
According to the Guardian, the global fashion industry now produces 100bn pieces of new clothing every year. What might be even more shocking than this figure is the fact that each year, UK consumers alone send around 300,000 tonnes of unused, unworn or unwanted textiles to landfill.
Synthetic fibers are found in our oceans, and we have probably all seen the horrifying images of turtles and other sea life entangled in plastic, left to die. In a 2020 study, McKinsey estimated that approximately 20 to 35 percent of the microplastic that flows into the ocean comes from the fashion industry.
Probably as a surprise to no one, but still shocking, is the fact that the fashion industry is the third largest manufacturing industry after automotive and technology industries and is a major contributor to climate change. In fact, it contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined. (House of Commons Environmental Audit)
Although many of my friends (me included) are still guilty of buying into fast fashion every now and then, we all also make a conscious effort not to. We try to invest in a few higher quality items that will last longer, buy from eco-conscious brands if we have the choice and look for sustainable materials such as organic cotton where possible.
BUT WHAT ABOUT FASHION JEWELRY?
The problem is that when it comes to jewelry, consumers don't even get that choice. More often than not, they can choose between paying thousands of pounds for fine jewelry, or much less for fashion jewelry. Most of the time though, it's not really a choice but a simple question of "Can I even afford that?".
So this is why I launched Oriad: because I wanted to make fine jewelry more accessible. Not only because I believe in your right to wear gold and diamonds (which I do ;)) , but because fundamentally, I believe that fast fashion should be a thing of the past.
With Oriad, I want to help put an end to the waste associated with fashion jewelry that will only last one season. For me, it makes sense to "invest" in a few classic pieces that you can wear all day, every day, forever. Those pieces that will be with you for all those small or big, important or insignificant moments of your life. I want you to be able to wear your jewelry during all those moments and have it remind you of them years later. Because those moments are what we at Oriad call your Stories of Gold.
When launching Oriad, one of the key goals was of course to make fine jewelry accessible. But it was also clear that accessibility and fair prices can't come at the expense of the planet, nor at the expense of the people making our jewelry. So we were diligent when selecting our suppliers to ensure they have the same ethics, values and high standards that we set for ourselves.
While quality of the products, excellent craftsmanship, competitive prices and decades of experience in the industry were of course important to us, the final decision for all suppliers was down to their commitment to manufacture their products in an ethically and environmentally sustainable way.
All our suppliers are either a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), or at the minimum source all their materials from an RJC-certified raw material supplier. We checked that they provide a safe work environment for their employees, engage in fair hiring practices without discrimination, pay fair wages plus overtime and provide health care. We also ensured that each supplier manages their factories in a sustainable way, and we are proud to say that our supplier for diamond rings and necklaces is working towards a fully emission-free factory by the end of this year.
And because your beautiful jewelry deserves beautiful packaging, we applied the same standards to every component of our packaging development and selection. That's why none of our packaging uses any plastic and everything is either reusable (like our beautiful boxes and cotton pouches), recyclable (like our postal boxes) or even compostable (like our mailers).
We work with suppliers that use innovative materials and production processes to reduce their impact on the environment. Our supplier for tissue paper for example uses soy ink, which is a more eco-friendly alternative than regular petroleum-based ink. They also plant trees in areas of need for every order they get.
For more information, you can read all about our suppliers and materials here, and if you would like to get in touch with us here, we are always more than happy to hear from you and answer any of your questions.
I hope you'll join us on our journey to reduce the impact of fast fashion and fashion jewelry on our planet.