The EJA Story
What’s different about Ethical Jewellery Australia and why we’re not right for everyone
The origins of Ethical Jewellery Australia
With Melinda Bailey as the driving force behind it, EJA was launched in 2007. It was one of the very first companies in Australia offering locally handmade fine jewellery made exclusively with ethically sourced precious metals, diamonds and gemstones.
At the time, few people even imagined there might be such a thing as ‘ethical jewellery’, much less create a business around the idea.
Indeed, the concepts of Fair Trade, fair-mined, traceability and sustainability were still very much in their infancy in the jewellery world.
Yet, despite the fact that pretty much no one else in Australia was doing it, Melinda bit the bullet and started promoting the idea that jewellery could be both beautiful and ethically sourced.
EJA had a very humble beginning. Starting out at one end of the dining table in a rented house in Paddington in inner Brisbane, Melinda (a Gemmologist and jewellery designer) did everything except actually make the jewellery. At the time Melinda had one local jeweller she called on to do the makes and Benn (her life and business partner) had limited involvement with writing, strategic and moral support.
These days EJA is still a home-based business (now based in two spare bedrooms in a rented house in Chelmer) with both Melinda and Benn working full time in it. They now have three manufacturing jewellers creating jewellery for them.
The future looks bright
EJA has seen a lot of changes in the international jewellery scene since 2007 with demand for ethically produced jewellery growing year to year. These days it’s easier than ever to source Fair Trade recycled and responsibly sourced precious metals, diamonds and gemstones. This has not only made our lives easier, but it has also meant we can deliver more of what our customers want.
Also, we’re now seeing high end, powerhouse brands like Tiffany & Co. and Chopard taking bold steps towards being much more socially and environmentally responsible.
It’s exciting to be a part of meaningful change in the industry. It’s reassuring to know that Melinda’s conviction back in the mid-2000s—that the jewellery industry could do better— is now (slowly) being taken up by larger, more ‘conventional’ jewellery companies.
What ‘ethical’ means to us
‘Ethics’ is a complicated subject for industry. It’s no less complicated when it comes to jewellery and the materials that go into its manufacture.
We recognise that ‘ethical’ can mean different things to different people. This is why we’re very much about sharing information with our customers so they can decide what’s most important to them.
In the jewellery world, there are plenty of baseline issues that shouldn’t be up for debate. There’s no reasonable excuse for tolerating things like child labour, slavery, wanton pollution and habitat destruction or conflict funding and corruption.
Where we draw the line
Put simply, the materials we use to make your jewellery must be free of any hint of human suffering, criminal behaviour and exploitation at any point in the supply chain. Materials must be fully traceable to their point of origin and we avoid suppliers with suspect environmental standards of operation.
Beyond that, when it comes to things like laboratory-created vs mine-origin vs recycled diamonds and gemstones or recycled vs fairly traded precious metals, we think it’s okay for our customers to make their own choices.
What we won’t do under any circumstance however, is supply diamonds, gemstones or precious metals that we either know nothing about or, worse still, are known to come from a conflict area or have been processed by an exploited workforce.
To learn more about where we stand when it comes to jewellery and ethics, our blog article: “Ethical Jewellery – what does that even mean?” takes an in depth look at the subject.
If you’d like to learn more about ethical issues in the diamond, gemstone and precious metals sectors, take a look at our Blog where you will find articles on these and other subjects.
You can also follow these links to learn more about:
- Precious metals used in fine jewellery;
- Diamonds and Lab-created diamonds;
- Coloured gemstones and Lab-created gemstones; and
- Why we handmake our jewellery and don’t do casting.
Thank you so much for my stunning engagement ring! We had a specific idea in mind that was not like anything we found in the shops and you have turned it into reality… and even more beautiful than we imagined!
The whole process was so exciting, and a bit nerve wracking because we couldn’t show you a picture, but you expertly guided us through and interpreted our ideas perfectly.
It was really important to us that the diamond and metal was ethically sourced and locally made so thank you for that as well; and it didn’t even cost any more than a shop bought alternative!
One of the nicest things about your service is that I felt totally comfortable expressing every niggle or worry and you listened and took these on board. We can’t thank you enough for a ring that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.
Jo and Mal from Brisbane, Queensland
Are we right for you?
It might seem a bit odd to suggest that maybe EJA isn’t right for you. Our experience over the past decade or so is that EJA doesn’t suit everyone. And we think that’s a good thing.
Trying to be all things to all people usually means compromising and we’d rather not do that.
Why we aren’t right for everyone
It’s not usually about the designs or pricing. (Although pricing can be an issue for anyone unfamiliar with the cost of producing handmade jewellery in Australia). Mostly it’s because EJA works almost exclusively by email and phone. Not everyone is comfortable with that.
Operating online means we don’t have a physical showroom.
We choose not to have a shopfront because we don’t need one. If we did, we would consume more resources which would add unnecessary overheads we’d have to pass on to you.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea that you can’t visit somewhere to look at physical examples of our work, then we’re probably not right for you.
Of course, it doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t meet with you if you happen to be in Brisbane.
It’s always wonderful to meet our customers face-to-face, but we find it’s not an essential part of the process.
Always happy to talk with you
With many of our customers being located outside of Brisbane, face-to-face meetings are often not possible. But you can always phone and talk to us.
The people who enjoy working with us most are those who are comfortable using email as the main way of communicating.
We’ve found this works especially well for people not in easy reach of a jeweller they have confidence in. Or for those who are busy and appreciate being able to email us when it suits them.
Another reason things sometimes don’t work out is we’re not willing to compromise our ethical standards in relation to sourcing diamonds, gemstones and precious metals.
Particularly when it comes to some natural gemstone varieties and diamonds of certain sizes and shapes (and cost) the only options available aren’t from sources we can verify as ethical.
When this happens, some customers prefer to shop elsewhere.
That’s okay. We’d rather lose a customer than compromise our principles.
No matter where you are in Australia
Take a look at our testimonials section. You’ll see we have customers from all over Australia – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and lots of places in between.
Ready to start designing the perfect ring or other jewellery piece?
If you’re ready to get started, give us a call or drop us a line. We’d love to help you turn your ideas into reality.