Industry / Podcasts

The Jewelry District, Episode 43: Guest Christina Miller


You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates interview Christina Miller, owner and founder of Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting.

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Show Notes
00:30 Victoria and Rob introduce their guest, Christina Miller, founder of Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting.
06:09 Christina discusses her first company, Ethical Metalsmiths.
15:27 You’ll hear the very first step you can take to become sustainable.
19:26 Christina argues that claiming you use recycled gold is not enough to be considered sustainable.
23:33 Victoria asks if Christina is hopeful about sustainability, and Christina says we have a long way to go.

Episode Credits
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Editor: Olivia Briley
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet

Show Recap

Introducing Christina Miller
An expert on sustainability and sustainable sourcing, Christina Miller is the owner and founder of Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting. From 2004 to 2015, she led the nonprofit organization Ethical Metalsmiths, which she cofounded. Today, she’s calling in from the village of College Corner, Ohio. Perhaps not a hub for jewelry, College Corner does happen to be a place where international activities on responsible sourcing and sustainability occur (right from her home office!). Christina comes from an academic art background and always wanted to be an art teacher; she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jewelry and metalsmithing.

Ethical Metalsmiths

Around 2005, Christina and her Ethical Metalsmith cofounder, Susan Kingsley, gave a talk on sustainability at a conference put on by the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Though this concept is commonplace in our jewelry industry now, their ideas were not well-received 16 years ago. Early on in her career, large-scale mining really made an impression on Christina. She’s been concerned with the way we pushed aside Native Americans and eradicated groups of people to obtain our raw materials. Christina explains who Ethical Metalsmiths originally aimed to inform, and how the industry changed over the 11 years after she formed the organization.

How to Become Sustainable 

Since her days in Ethical Metalsmiths, Christina has been working with retailers, designers, and civil society organizations on sustainable practices. She encourages people to look inward and to work within their own belief system. First, you should think about the impact you would like to have, and then work to pursue sourcing that matches those values. Christina says ethical jewelry sourcing lies in the relationships we have with people all along the supply chain. Sustainability is a journey, and while we may be shortsighted when we start out, we learn to be more ethical as we become more educated.

Why Recycled Gold Isn’t Enough

Christina encourages people to reconsider how highly they tout their use of recyclable gold; companies shouldn’t be making claims that they can’t substantiate. We need to be doing more than just using recycled gold. Christina argues that all gold is really recycled, as all the gold that has ever existed lies somewhere on or within our planet. Using recycled gold is a start, but there’s so much more that has to be done in order to be considered sustainable.

We Have a Long Way to Go

Victoria asks Christina if she’s hopeful about things like blockchain, and if it is critical in understanding where our gold is from and how it got to us. Christina says that blockchain and the like help create a more transparent cycle of information between miner, purchaser, refiner, and end purchaser. But benefits should be felt throughout the supply chain in order to have sustainability in the industry. Christina says we owe it to the people whose countries we’ve been removing materials from for centuries to do better. There is a lot of work to be done.

(Photo courtesy of Christina Miller)

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