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Consumer choices at the heart of making jewelry more sustainable: Interview with Fine & Flux Jewelry founder Dominique Nicholson

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For my very first blog post I interviewed Dominique Nicholson, founder and owner of Fine & Flux Jewelry, a custom fine jewelry boutique in Montreal. In addition to offering custom handcrafted fine jewelry, Fine & Flux offers recycling and upcycling of old jewelry pieces. I sat down with Dominique to talk about what sustainability means in the jewelry industry and what consumers can do to make the best possible choices for their wallets and the environment. Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Great to meet you, Dominique! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about sustainability in the jewelry industry. How did you start out creating fine jewelry pieces?

I was in school studying physiotherapy and it just wasn’t for me. I am a tactile learner and the traditional academic approach wasn’t adapted to my learning style. I went to jewelry-making school for fun, and ended up turning it into a career.

Does making jewelry create a lot of waste and pollution?

Not fine jewelry, no. The materials are so expensive that all of the leftover bits are gathered and reused. The real issues begin at the lower price points. For example, gold-plated jewelry is made to last for only about two years. After that, the gold plating wears off and the cheaper materials underneath – usually brass or copper – begin to oxidize and look tarnished. The pieces can be polished or re-plated, but few people know that and take the time to do it.

Does Fine & Flux offer re-plating?

No, we don’t. It’s important to us to focus on creating beautiful pieces that our customers can pass on to their grandchildren 60 years from now. We don’t invest in creating pieces that won’t pass the test of time.

Are there any common issues that you see in the jewelry industry in terms of sustainability?

The biggest issue comes from consumer behaviour. A change of mentality to consuming less and consuming better quality is really needed to reduce the demand for cheaper pieces that won’t stand the test of time. Buying quality can be expensive up front, but saves money, time and energy in the long run and is better for the environment.

Also, consumers should start digging deeper into statements made by companies in terms of sustainability. For example, there are companies out there that will say that they use 100% recycled gold when they actually don’t. Consumers should ask for the certification or the receipts required to make these claims to make sure they’re getting the real thing. A company saying that they use recycled gold “when possible” as opposed to “always” is a sign that they’re telling the truth.Tell me more about your work in upcycling and recycling jewelry. 

We encourage our clients to bring in their engagement rings or heirloom jewelry that would otherwise be sitting in the back of a drawer, and we turn them into completely new and modern pieces. Using existing raw materials can significantly lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of the finished piece.

Fine & Flux Jewelry is growing and is opening its very first studio location in downtown Montreal! Come visit them at 1255 Phillip’s Square, suite 412-E starting on April 1st, 2020.

Want to be featured on TheStoryofClothes.com? Fill out the Founder Interview Application form here.

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2 Comments

  • March 21, 2020 at 2:19 pm
    Loida Otero

    Loved this interview! There is so much to learn about the jewelry industry that most consumers—myself included—have no idea how to distinguish the companies that truly are sustainable from those that aren’t. Thank you for shining a light on this issue! I’ll definitely be visiting Fine & Faux Jewelry’s website.

    • March 21, 2020 at 3:22 pm
      thestoryofclothes

      Thank you Loida! I’m so glad that you found it useful ❤️