The world of fair trade jewelry is a unique one; often when we think of jewelry our minds wander to the glitz and glamour versions, of sparkling diamonds (with questionable histories), and the go big or go home attitude that many jewelry boxes tend to take on. However, fair trade jewelry brings a special meaning back to the craft, in that it is once again a loving art that honors cultural tradition, and is largely done using recycled and sustainable materials.
Some fair trade jewelry favorites of ours are great examples of how beautiful sustainable jewelry can be, especially when it is made in a supportive environment.
Recycled Paper Jewelry: Predominantly made in Africa, our fair trade paper bead jewelry is created by taking magazine or newspaper, cutting it into thin strips, and then tightly rolling it into beautiful beads. The paper beads are often painted with bright colors for a vibrant and unique look. The most exciting thing about paper bead jewelry is that it is helping the environment instead of harming it by re-purposing materials that would otherwise add to landfills. Not only that, but paper bead jewelry creates jobs that help empower talented women, and the jewelry that comes out of it is truly one-of-a-kind due to the recycled nature of the materials.
Tagua Nut Jewelry: If you want to talk about a game changer for the world of jewelry, tagua is it. It has a lot going for it that most jewelry just can’t claim. The first thing you’ll notice about tagua nut jewelry is that it stands out; able to take on vegetable dye, tagua jewelry tends to be bright and beckoning. It’s smooth to the touch, so it isn’t going to snag or catch on clothing and it’s comfortable to wear. But the best thing about tagua is how it helps our world. It’s sustainable, it prevents deforestation by promoting the growth & care of the Tagua Palm, it creates jobs for both farmers and artisans, and due to being similar to ivory, it helps protect elephants from further poaching. Not many pieces of jewelry toute such a strong, uplifting story!
Kantha Bead Jewelry: Named so because it is made using recycled Indian Kantha fabric (a colorful fabric technique that is just stunning when transformed into jewelry), Kantha jewelry often consists of large or small fabric wrapped beads, however, there are also some truly unique pieces here at Plowshare that use the fabric in other creative ways, such as braided cloth chains and twisted circular pendants. Kantha bead jewelry also is a beautiful representation of India and the cultural tradition of the women who make both the fabric and the jewelry.
Fair trade jewelry adorns women in an art that represents hope and possibility. It turns what would otherwise be considered garbage into glamour and opens eyes to the fact that there are other ways we can embrace what is fashionable without damaging the world around us. There is jewelry out there that supports women, builds communities, and respects the environment - and that jewelry can be found in Waukesha at Plowshare Fair Trade Marketplace.
Also, be sure to stop by this weekend to check out our Jewelry Jamboree Sale & the ice sculpture art that will be taking place outside our shop!