Supply Sustainable or Miss the Millennials

Avilan Bridal Jewelry

Sustainably sourced Avilan bridal jewelry.

“Deck the halls with boughs of… sustainability and fair trade?”

That is the question JCK’s Daniel Ford posed last week in ‘Younger Consumers Prefer Socially Conscious Retailers, Says Poll.’ Generation X and Y shoppers have become a force to be reckoned with this holiday season, demanding more transparency into their product labels and identify fair trade, conflict-free and environmentally friendly practices, according to the results of a new survey by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm.

The survey of 1,000 adults, 18 years of age and older, taken from Nov. 7th – Nov. 10th, 2013 reveals that nearly 70 percent of consumers under age 30 consider social issues such as sustainability, human rights and fair trade before making a purchase. 10 percent always consider social and environmental issues when buying, and an additional 30 percent consider them nearly as often; that is 40 percent of a growing purchasing power that is ruled by their ethics and values. Where is this trend coming from?

“A lot of these campaigns around human rights and sustainability begin on college campuses,” said Jim Low, audit partner for KPMG LLP, in a statement. “It would fall within reason that younger people are more influenced by social issues when they shop. But a large percentage of mature consumers are also engaged in ethical consumption.”

Conflict minerals are also becoming widely known to this demographic, with shoppers under 30 being 75 percent more aware of social and ecological implications than their older counterparts. As sustainability changes from being a simple trend to a full-scale market, more retailers and taking action to meet its requirements. Our friend and colleague Lindsay Daunell, co-founder of D&H Sustainable Jewelers in San Francisco, built her entire business model around the concept.

“I think it’s great that more and more jewelers are becoming aware of the importance of sustainability in our industry,” says Lindsay, “but in order to use it effectively as a marketing tool, you need to be able to back it up. Your heart has to be in it, and you have to be comfortable talking about a clear chain of custody with the client.”

Avilan™ is ahead of the curve providing eco ethical Storied Diamonds™ (the only independently 3rd-party certified responsibly sourced stones in the industry) for designer pieces using recycled or fair trade/mined metals and gemstones. All of our stones are tracked and traced by SCS Global Services, the leader in environmental audits and certifications, and are inscribed with alphanumeric authentication codes.

 

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Our Favorite Rings from 'The Wedding Ring Book'

It’s always a pleasure to see people appreciate your product, one we at Avilan™ enjoyed while reading about our collaboration with Dawes Design in The Wedding Ring Book. However, she wasn’t our only friend featured; many other ethical artisans showcased their beautiful rings in the article “When She Says ‘I Do.'”

Sethi Couture: Tailoring her designs to the antique look of rose and Euro cuts, Pratima Sethi takes the best of the old and molds it into the new. Her lacy, feminine touches bring out a softer side of these stones, offering casual luxury for the fashion forward, savvy-sophisticate.

Jennifer Dawes: Alright, we might be slightly biased on this one. Jen’s use of responsibly sourced metals and gemstones is flawless, and her combination of traditional cut melee and rough, worn band is seamless. We even adore how her rose cut diamond matches the warm color of the gold (not as much as we adore our diamonds in her pieces, but no one’s perfect).

Sofia Kaman (Kamofie)

Sofia Kaman: We love Sofia’s designs as much as she loves vintage traditional cut diamonds. Using Old Miners and Euros predominantly in her rings, she brings out the natural beauty and color of the stone and embraces its natural quality.

Rebecca Overmann: Mixing rose and fancy cuts, Rebecca incorporates the best of both worlds in her designs Using varying shapes and textures from ring to ring, she makes a brilliant, stackable statement.

Megan Thorne: Every rose has its Thorne, and this delicate flowery piece is no exception. Incorporating antique elements into modern marvelous fashion, Megan makes fragile and feminine into a wearable, wonderful ring for every day wear.

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The Nice List: Artisans With Ethics

Our stockings are being stuffed with fashion and fine jewelry featuring Storied Diamonds™! I’m excited to talk about the designers we’re working with as well as those who are very receptive to advocating sustainability. As more of these talented jewelers join the eco ethical movement, our list of partnerships and friends grows! See for yourself:

  • Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Design: Using only recycled gold and ethically sourced stones, Jennifer has been at the forefront of sustainability since 2005. With a wide range of stackable fashion and bridal, her pieces add beauty to the world without taking any away. See her ‘Sustainably Beautiful’ bridal line with Avilan here.
  • TOBY POMEROY™: An artisan so nice, he made ethical metal twice. His EcoGold and TRUE GOLD™ lines feature recycled and fairmined metals respectively, and his designs incorporate fair trade and recycled gems. His Comet Earrings feature Storied Diamonds™, making their beauty truly out of this world. See his Comet Earrings here.
  • Ele Keats: A woman of many talents, Ele designs fashion jewelry as diverse as her film career. Using Harmony Metals™ in latest line with Avilan™, her pieces dazzle everyone. See her fashion pieces here.
  • Rebecca Overmann: Drawing inspiration from natural forms and subtlety, Rebecca creates jewelry that embody clarity, simplicity, and elegance. Her simple mixes of reclaimed metals and variety of traditional and rose cut stones create show that less is more.
  • Adel Chefridi: Born in Tunis along the Mediterranean coast, this GIA gemologist-turned-metalsmith creates jewelry that emphasizes wearability. ” A beautiful design,” he states, “does not add to the Gem anything that it doesn’t already have, but rather reveals the beauty it already possesses.”
  • Megan Thorne: Elegance is timeless in Megan’s delicate yet dazzling pieces. It is the intimacy with her craft and materials that brings forth the integrity of every piece and the intricacy of her designs.
  • Jamie Joseph: Jamie has an artisan’s aesthetic renown for meticulous craftsmanship, signature stone cutting techniques, and an abundance of color.By giving an organic framework that brings out the brilliance of each individual stone, she lets her pieces speak for themselves.
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East Coast Adventures

A masterpiece by Annie Fensterstock’s daughter Tess.

After two weeks of Co-founder Avi Hadany and his wife/VP of Marketing and Sustainability Jana have returned from visiting the East Coast. Greeted with eagerness and enthusiasm, we wanted to thank everyone who took a step towards sustainability in the jewelry industry.

Our newest friends are…

 

 

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Hosting a Spook-tacular Store Event!

Are you hosting a holiday-inspired event at your store this October? Here are some suggestions for bringing the Halloween spirit into your store while maintaining an elegant appearance.

  • Trick and Treat : Play a “trick” by glamorizing the classic black-and-white horror movies with coordinated jewelry, window display, and cases so your customers can “treat” themselves to their favorite pieces.
  • Monster Mash : Everyone loves to dress up and be creative, both employees and customers. Offer an incentive for the best costume that compliment your jewelry: Cleopatra with bejeweled dangling earrings, Daisy from The Great Gatsby dripping with diamonds, or the Wicked Witch of the West with blood red rubies. Post the winners on social media.
  • Eat, Drink, and Be Scary : Provide devilishly delicious appetizers and drinks for a fright night. Pair lady fingers and spider pretzels with a Witch’s Brew or Bloody Scary.

“Eerie” and “elegant” can go together like a vampire and a blood donor if handled with care and enthusiasm, so transform your store into Transylvania this holiday!

 

 

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Shout Out: T Lee is "America's Coolest Store!"

T Lee.
Photo Credit: Instore

Avilan has more stores, partners, and close friends than we ever thought possible, so when one of them is recognized for their talent and uniqueness, we can’t help but celebrate. This is a special shout-out to T Lee for winning Instore’s coveted “America’s Coolest Store” award for the Small Cool Division. Her creativity, passion, and drive for the past thirty years have made her into one of the most talented artisans we’ve ever worked with.

Founded in 1983, T Lee dropped all conventions (as well as her birth name) when she founded her company and toured the trade fair circuit. Through hard work and commitment, she gained a loyal following as well as the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year award in 2002 and the JCK Rising Star. Her first storefront bought in November 2002 has been traded for a smaller but more functional alternative that allows her to be close to the customers.

“I had to choose between the front and the back,” she says in regards to her previous location. “Relationships are the most important part of the business for me, and talking with customers really took me off my bench.” In her new locale, she can be close to her customers and not far from the bench, keeping her hard-earned trust at the forefront of her beliefs and business. Her entire store also matches her commitment to sustainability; her showcases are built of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood with eco-friendly flooring and paint to match.

Lee’s designs have not lost their roots in sustainability; in 1995 she began including found objects in her fine gold jewelry line, soon adding opal scrap cutoffs to her regular designs. Now, she is dedicated to using only reclaimed and re-refined metals, fair-trade and recycled stones, and our very own Storied Diamonds. Her designs reflect her creativity and statement-making flair (as you can see here), ranging from big and bold to light and colorful.

There is more to T Lee than can be put to a page (though the Instore article certainly does a great job), from her extreme sports hobbies to her “follow your bliss” outlook on life. We wish her the best and hope this recognition will bring her even more well-deserved business.

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Be an Eco-Bride

April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers are made into beautiful bouquets for June, the most popular wedding month out of the year. What makes June a bridal favorite? The answer is steeped in superstition, dating all the way back to the Roman Empire and their mythology. While the Romans had honored numerous gods and goddesses that they prayed to throughout the year, one of the most celebrated was Juno, the patroness of marriage and childbirth. Whether out of love or fear for the goddess (after reading about what she did to Zeus’s mistresses, I’m leaning towards the latter), they held several festivals and termed an entire month in her honor. Couples married during this time in hopes of receiving her blessing and good fortune.

While the reason behind the tradition may have been watered down from pious devotion to simple good luck, June still remains the most popular month to tie the knot. And wedding bells haven’t been the only things chiming in, as people from all walks of life have been leaning towards more sustainable trends. While these celebrations have been typically associated with wasteful and excessive practices (Facebook co-founder Sean Parker serving as the latest example with his $10 million marital trashing of a redwood forest), lately brides and grooms have been taking their ethics and values as seriously as their vows. There are numerous creative and beautiful ways to make your wedding a little more eco-friendly, but some of the most popular are.

  • Rock a green rock. I’m not saying you should wear an emerald over a diamond (unless that’s your personal preference), but that you should make sure it’s ethically responsible. You could go for:
  1. Our very own Storied Diamond™. These up-cycled stones come with our assurance and verification from our independent auditor SCS Global Services to be renewed, environmentally friendly, and conflict-free.
  2. Fair trade stones. While they still cause harm to the environment, they are mined responsibly and alleviate unfair treatment of miners in other countries.
  3. Go beyond conflict-free. Canadian, Australian, Namibian, and Botswanian diamonds are just a few alternatives that meet ISO standards and work to lessen their impact on the earth. Ultimately, it is up to you to research your options and make an informed, responsible decision. It’s an financial and ethical investment.
  • Eco-friendly invites. Even a small affair can result in dozens of invitations being sent. Use either recycled paper options with soy ink or go the electronic route with e-vites. Many wedding planning sites like The Knot will give you customizable templates and calendars for sending out your invitations. (P.S. – This is also great for thank-yous!)
  • Have the world celebrate with you. Give back to the world by giving guests the option to donate to a green charity on your behalf. The novelty of “His” and “Hers” towels can wear off pretty quickly (especially if “His” is in the laundry basket and he uses “Hers”), but having trees planted in your name or enough renewable energy credits to offset your wedding’s environmental footprint is a gift that will benefit not only you, but the planet.
  • Get familiar with your food. Your guests may choose between beef and vegetarian plates, but you ultimately decide what options are available. Go for organic, locally grown/raised food; the smaller carbon footprint and healthier alternatives will keep your guests full and happy.
  • Honeymoon closer to home. The most important part of the honeymoon is being able to get away with the one you love, not how far you go. Opt for in-state locales, or if your heart is set on an exotic getaway, use LEED or GSTC certified hotels.
  • Wedding dress: renew, reuse, recycle. With designer gowns using valuable resources in manufacturing and transportation, a wedding dress can end up leaving a massive carbon footprint. Opt for a pre-owned, gently used one or alter an old family heirloom in a modern marvel with vintage flair. Also look for a gown that you can alter after the wedding into a cute cocktail dress, so you can enjoy it more than once. If your dress is a one-time affair, then resell it to gain back some of your expense or donate your gown so other brides-to-be can look as good as you on their big day.

Classic or contemporary, traditional or avant-garde, your wedding day is meant to be a celebration of everlasting love and memories. Sharing your love with the world will make those memories all the more special and treasured. This is your special day, so go green when and where it feels right for you, and take pride in knowing that your union makes a difference.

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Greening the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but often we forget just how wasteful the holidays can be. The leftovers from that giant turkey go uneaten, decorations are quickly bought and put up only to be tossed out the next day, and if you’re anything like me, there are yards of discarded wrapping paper and ribbons from failed attempts to wrap the oddly-shaped gift (after the third try, I typically give up and toss it into a gift bag). Between the holiday rush and the cornucopia of family get-togethers, it can be difficult to keep up with greener priorities. That’s why we at Avilan™ have created an easy go-to list for the holiday season.

1. Start With Your Gift List: With the growing awareness surrounding our environment, it’s easy to find sustainable alternatives to many gift items on your list. Organize your list by quality and not quantity; you could get your friend that set of picture frames that she’ll stow away in the closet to gather dust, or you could get her a Kindle to read that best seller she’s been talking about. Both she and her extra closet space will thank you.

2. Wrap Responsibly: Stick with recycled wrapping paper and card alternatives, which can be found in almost any gift store or online at places such as Green Field Paper. If you can’t find a design or style you like, then make your own! Use a blank recycled wrapping paper, reusable ink stamps or a embroidery fabric printing roller, and design away! It adds a personal and thoughtful touch to any gift.

3. Eat The Locals: Not advocating cannibalism (hardly in the holiday spirit), but it’s always a good idea to eat organic, local products, so include them in your holiday dinner. You can further green your meal by using washable flatware and silverware over paper or plastic alternatives. If you’re at a large family function and there simply aren’t enough plates to go around, use recycled paper plates and napkins for the evening.

4. Trees Are Green For A Reason: If you’re picking out a Christmas tree this year, go with one that is pesticide-free and, if you’re lucky, locally grown. Also stick to a real wreath over plastic, and once you’re finish with both your tree and wreath, go to Earth911 to dispose of them responsibly and save one of the ten million trees that end up in a landfill every year. When decorating, use energy-efficient LED lights to decorate the home. The savings from your electric bill will make the holiday bills that much more bearable.

5. Give The Gift That Keeps On Giving: A tried and true expression, but donating to a local charity is exactly what the holidays are all about. Avilan™ donates a percentage of each transaction to a charity of the customer’s choosing year-round, but this time of year emphasizes good will towards man more than any other. So keep in the spirit and make both your holiday and theirs a little jollier.

We at Avilan™ wish everyone a happy holiday, no matter what you celebrate. Everyone deserves to share in the good tidings that the season brings, so enjoy this time with your friends and loved ones and being a little greener while doing it.

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‘Tis the Season to Shop Smart

'Tis the season...Savvy shoppers have always had an eye out for particular trends in their buying habits: uniqueness of the product, craftsmanship, even a company’s eco-friendly practices. One trend that has been growing in recent years is the demand for products “made in the U.S.A.” The topic dominated the presidential debates for months, from companies outsourcing overseas to creating manufacturing jobs here at home, and it has not left the minds of American consumers as the holidays fast approach. ABC News has started a Made in America Christmas movement, having citizens pledge to spend at least a portion of their holiday spending on local or national products only, and smart shoppers are sticking to a budget of $750 for their spending.

However, a large amount of consumers are breaking that budget for the biggest jewelry-giving season. Last year 13.6% of Americans bought jewelry for loved ones during the holidays; it’s an impressive number, but it unfortunately left many feeling dejected, as a whopping 22.8% of season celebrators hoped for jewelry. This year seems to be no different, with nearly identical statistics predicted this year. Between the demand for jewelry, budgets, and the rising call to buy American, it’s almost impossible for a savvy shopper to meet all three criteria.

Almost.

Avilan™ sources all of its diamonds and jewelry directly from the United States, because all of our inventory is post-consumer and collected from American retailers and consumers. In addition to keeping the money from each purchase and sale within the national economy, Avilan™ donates a percentage of each transaction to a charity partner of the buyer’s or seller’s choice. Our jewelry is comparatively priced, with a wide variety of quality and cost to meet any budget, and since our diamonds are up-cycled™ from the existing national inventory, we eliminate the need to mine for new ones overseas, securing both the environment and our economy.

This is the time of year when people come together, enjoy one another, and create brilliant new memories with loved ones. Make those memories sparkle even brighter by giving the gift of jewelry and really make it the most wonderful time of the year.  No matter what you celebrate or who you celebrate with, show the world you care with the gift of a responsible, locally sourced diamond.

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Avilan Donates to Hurricane Sandy Relief

 

With all of the destruction and devastation left over from Hurricane Sandy, people are thinking less about diamond rings and necklaces and more about reconnecting the power and having a place to stay. Our friends and family on the East Coast are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, including those in the jewelry industry.

According to InStoreMag.com, brick-and-mortar shopping visits were down 7 percent in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, and online sales sunk by an additional 4 percent. With the main concerns being focused on rebuilding the Northeast, especially as more winter storms roll in with thousands of homes still without heat or electricity, few have holiday shopping on their minds.

As Avilan’s VP of Marketing Jana Hadany stated in this CBS5 exclusive, “This is the beginning of the very first week in the season that important to kick start the season, and we just lost that week.”

Another problem that has arose for jewelers, as it has for many others, is the property damage. The large window displays meant to showcase a store’s inventory became a liability for many, resulting in massive financial cost and man hours spent to board them up. With many stores without the electricity to power their alarm systems, security has also come into question.

Despite all of the hardships and ruin, many jewelers are giving people a new reason to smile and take heart. JCKOnline reported that jewelers like Great American Jewelry Store in Massapequa Park, NY and Earth Treasures in Eatontown, NJ (currently being run on generators) have been using their stores as way-stations for those without heat or power. With so many doing their part in this time of crisis, Avilan felt it was only right to do something as well.

Avi Hadany and Ilan Wexsler, co-founders of Avilan, donated 180 dollars each for a total of 360, a symbol of those affected coming full circle back to the way things were before the storm. The money was given to the Red Cross, which has since been used to buy meals for victims as well as provide clean-up and hygiene kits. Our thoughts and love are with our friends on the East coast, both professional and personal, as they rebuild from the wreckage to a brighter tomorrow.

Please donate to the Red Cross and help those affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy here.

 

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