Hopping onto the summer trend of dainty jewellery, I stumbled across Edge of Ember. I was drawn to them by their jewellery designs, but was instantly intrigued by their sustainability initiatives. They are a company who creates their jewellery from recycled gold and silver, ethically sourced gemstones, and lab-grown diamonds in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The company is led by women and has some great initiatives in place to give back. They even have people from the likes of Megan Markle, Polly Sayer, and Bettina Looney wearing their jewellery and the company seems to be growing quickly! The necklace I reviewed was £225, which is cheaper than some of the high-end luxury alternatives. I think they share lots of great information about their materials, but should be more transparent about how these materials are produced and who produces them.
Edge of Ember’s Dainty Solitaire Diamond Necklace is composed of 14K recycled solid yellow gold and lab-grown diamonds. I have personally never come across lab-grown diamonds, so this intrigued me when first learning about Edge of Ember. Their mission is to provide sustainable luxury jewellery to their customers, and I think their usage of lab-grown diamonds is definitely an innovative sustainable solution.
Edge of Ember shares that traditionally-mined diamonds pass through many hands along the supply chain, and it is therefore extremely difficult to trace the origin of the diamonds. They also share that one of the biggest downsides to traditionally-mined diamonds is that they have a large negative impact on the environment; the mining contributes to deforestation, destroys ecosystems and wildlife, and can contaminate water supplies with toxic chemicals. Additionally, diamonds are often mined in communities lacking labor laws, and children often work in these mines under terrible conditions. Edge of Ember wanted to produce a diamond collection that didn’t have all of these negative impacts. Their lab-grown diamonds are created by putting a tiny “seed” diamond into an immense pressure and heat chamber, and after a few weeks the diamond is created – ready to be polished and cut. They say that lab-grown diamonds have no humanitarian costs, and since the production is less costly, they can be sold for more affordable prices. I looked at other reports on lab-grown diamonds to see if these reported benefits held up and it seems like they do! Diamond producers such as De Beers have provided arguments against lab-grown diamonds, and their main claim is that mining brings economic benefits to the countries where the mines are located. While this may be true, as most lab-grown diamonds are produced in factories close to where the jewellery is assembled to reduce transportation costs and emissions, the economic benefits of traditional mining do not outweigh the negative humanitarian and environmental conditions. This is a tricky area, as the people losing their jobs are real people who have families to support, but the conditions they work in are not healthy and their work has a negative impact on the environment. I think that as the diamond industry begins to change, they should come up with solutions to continue to support these communities or integrate them into the new systems.
Aside from the lab-grown diamond, Edge of Ember’s Dainty Solitaire Diamond Necklace is also made of recycled gold. They started the first jewellery recycling program in the UK where you can send in gold or silver jewellery from any brand in return for store credit. They say that jewellery recycling reduces the need for mining, which reduces the carbon emissions by up to two thirds. Alongside lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold, Edge of Ember also sends out their orders in sustainable packaging. Their jewellery boxes are made from FSC certified paper (meaning the paper is made of materials from a forest that is "managed in an environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable manner," and their mailing boxes are also resealable so that customers can use them again to mail things out in the future. They have also removed all of the features that made traditional jewellery boxes non recyclable “like foil logos, box hinges and lamination.”
I think that Edge of Ember is going above and beyond to ensure that all components of their Dainty Solitaire Diamond Necklace have a low environmental impact and a positive ethical impact, which I appreciate! I have not come across a jewellery brand that exhibits this much of a commitment to sustainability before in their materials which is why I’m awarding them 3 planets for this section.
Edge of Ember’s materials stand out to me because they seem sustainable, but I have also wondered how much of an impact they have on the environment during production. The pressure and heat needed to create lab-grown diamonds is energy intensive, and while this has a lower impact than traditional mining, it is still significant. Edge of Ember says that “we’ve carried out a full Life Cycle Assessment of our production and operations to map out our carbon footprint. Using these certified metrics, we look for areas of our business where we can minimise our carbon emissions. We then offset the remaining with carbon credits.” They also say that by the end of 2021 they want to be 100% carbon neutral – this is an ambitious goal but one that I admire! They acknowledge that lab-diamond production is energy intensive and say that the lab they work with gets 30% of their energy from solar power. This is a start, but I don’t think it’s enough, especially with their goal of being 100% carbon neutral by the end of the year. That metric was shared in September 2020, so maybe the measurement has improved since then. It’s a difficult area to assess because diamond production in general is not great for the environment, and while Edge of Ember’s production techniques are still energy intensive they are much better than the unsustainable alternative. Similarly to their diamond production, they don’t share too much information about how much energy it takes for them to recycle the gold in the necklace either; this also seems like an energy intensive process which I think they should address.
I also couldn’t find more information about where each of the components were created and where they were being assembled. When I reached out to the brand to ask about this, they shared that they were in the process of creating new pages on their website to share this information. So, while I don’t have all the information as I’m writing this review, I hope that they are transparent about the locations of their factories, as transportation costs may be significant for this product.
I wish Edge of Ember would be more transparent about where exactly they are making these changes to their life cycle to become carbon neutral. It would be great to see some kind of progress tracker on their website or just a blog post that walks through their supply chain visually and maps out their carbon footprint – they say they are making some changes, but it would be nice to see them from a customer perspective! Because of this, I’m giving them a 2 in this category, as they are not actively unsustainable in their production. In fact, they’re on the path to going above and beyond. I think with some tweaks in transparency and offsetting their production emissions, they could earn a 3.
The location of Edge of Ember’s factories was actually one of the things I reached out to them about, as I wanted to see who produced their products. They share that they have partners across Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany who are all “committed to fair pay, safe working environments, unbiased and equal treatment of all, and rigorous environmental care every step of the way.” When I asked more about this, they replied super quickly and in a friendly manner, saying that they are in the process of sharing more information about this on their website, which I believe as I can see they have made a start on a similar page on their current website. My only question is – why are they only working on sharing this information now when the company has been around since 2014? Maybe they’re changing this around to become carbon neutral by the end of 2021?
Edge of Ember shares information about their founder, Lynette Ong, who founded the company after her travels around Asia. She found that “there’s so much ‘invisible’ craftsmanship in Asia that was overshadowed by the mega manufacturing landscape and overlooked by the global consumer.” She acknowledged that there’s so much production in “unsavory conditions” but also that there was an “abundance of fantastic talent, craftsmanship and tradition that I witnessed out there. Those were the people I wanted to work with, I wanted to shout about them and promote them on a bigger stage.” I really like that there’s a page dedicated to Lynette Ong’s story on their website, and I think the way she describes her mission is great. The website reveals that today the company is based out of London run by a small female-led team, which I love!
They also share a number of their collaborations on their website which are really interesting. Twice a year, they run “charity sample sales” where 100% of the net proceeds go to nonprofits – last year they were Help India Breathe, Solace Women’s Aid, and FareShare. They also created a collection where 100% of the profits go towards supporting Black Lives Matter, and every March donate all the proceeds of their Fearless Necklace to Women for Women International. These all seem like amazing initiatives! I hope that when they share more details about their factories they follow this ethical trend. I am awarding them a 2 for this category as I don’t think they share enough information to earn a full 3 yet. They have some great initiatives and I love their dedication to women in leadership, but we need to see more precise information about their factories and labor standards!