Your Cart is Empty

Individualism and the heritage of Craftsmanship. New territories

2 min read

New territory: sustainable craftsmanship with ethical materials


Considering the revival of craftsmanship as a contemporary reality, the next chapter will look at how Spanish traditional techniques and symbolism can integrate in the contemporary jewellery context.


Craftsmanship and traditional techniques are part of the human capital of a country. In understanding craftsmanship, not only the use of skills of a certain craft needs to be looked at, but also the heritage in the form and the use of objects according to tradition, in this case the Spanish tradition. By using and reinventing techniques we are not keeping only generational/evolutional knowledge alive, but also giving it a place in the modern context and pass it to future generations.


Based on the ethical scenario there is clear need for change in the jewellery sector regarding ethics. Whether the intention is to do things more sustainable or to sell more by branding the product as “green”, there should be common agreements on the ethical choices; which materials and processes are sustainable and ethical.


Due to the lack of transparency in the jewellery production chain, most agreements are based on word-trust, and the traceability of materials becomes almost impossible. This makes ethical conversations very difficult because almost all explanations and ideas are based on assumptions.


“…the industry is extremely complex, involving many thousands of business involved at different stages. In general, processing and manufacturing tends to be fragmented, although there are many small companies bound together in intricate trading relationships.”

 “there are close links between the various processing centres, held together by traders, in often-impenetrable networks bound by secrecy”[1]


As a consequence, would it be relevant to bring this secrecy and duality in some way into the design work to make a bespoke piece of jewellery?


[1] Natural Resources Institute. (2003)Towards an ethical jewellery business <http://www.nri.org/> Accessed 2 May 2007


This is an excerpt from Arabel Lebrusan's MA paper "Individualism and the heritage of Craftsmanship. Questioning Spanish sensibility and sustainable processes in the contemporary jewellery practice". Central Saint Martins. 2007.

If you have enjoyed reading this text, you can download the full paper HERE

arabel lebrusan
arabel lebrusan

Arabel Lebrusan is an artist, designer and pioneer of the ethical jewellery movement, with almost two decades of industry experience behind her. She is a fount of knowledge when it comes to responsible sourcing, sustainable manufacture, and the preservation of traditional craft. Her engaging blog posts range from personal accounts of once-in-a-lifetime sourcing trips to helpful tips for buying and wearing jewellery and opinion pieces on pressing industry matters.