Tuesday, July 22, 2008

C5 = Sustainable Fine Jewelry: Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires-Q&A with Meghan Connolly Haupt

Meghan Connolly Haupt
c5 Company

CELESTE: How did you come up with the name c5?

MEGHAN: Diamonds are typically valued by the 4 C’s: cut, carat, clarity, and color. We believe that the social and environmental impact should also be a factor in determining the value of the diamond and propose that consciousness be the 5th C. C5 stands for cut, carat, clarity, color AND consciousness. We simply exist to provide alternatives to conscious consumers who, for a variety of reasons, do not want to support the traditional jewelry industry.

CELESTE: Diamonds (and Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds) are a girls' best friend, but what inspired you to carve your own eco-path into fine jewelry?

I started C5 company because I wanted to offer people an alternative to the traditional diamond and jewelry industry. Like many other consumers today, I appreciate beauty and craftsmanship, and strongly believe that both should be attainable without having to compromise my values.

The fine jewelry industry has thrived for many decades under the same model. As such, it was a long, arduous, and often demeaning process for me to get my own socially and environmentally responsible wedding ring and from this experience grew my desire to help others and a passion for a new way of doing business. I strive to offer a better way of serving clients that utilizes emerging innovations, is enjoyable for all involved and results in the perfect jewelry.

CELESTE: Give us some examples of how c5 is a sustainable fine jewelry company.

MEGHAN: We are working really hard to not only produce sustainable products, but also to operate our business in a sustainable way.
  • All of our custom jewelry is made in the United States with recycled metals and either lab-created or ethically sourced gems.
  • Our packaging is eco-friendly and made by a fair-trade certified company. We ship using recycled materials.
  • We are incorporating sustainable materials in our office like CFL bulbs and recycled carpeting.

Some of these things may seem small, but others have been quite challenging.

CELESTE: What are some of the challenges c5 has faced?

MEGHAN: Suddenly, we found ourselves not only in the jewelry business, but the sustainable box business as well because nothing existed that we could buy wholesale. We have devoted significant resources to coming up with an alternative.

Traditional clamshell jewelry boxes are made from petroleum. C5 isn’t going to display sustainable jewelry in something so clearly out of alignment with our mission.

CELESTE: For socially conscious consumers, what gems would you suggest they consider and why?

MEGHAN: I suggest that socially conscious consumers consider lab-created gems. Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and Diamonds are all made chemically, optically, and physically identical to their mined counterparts, but are not associated with the same negative social and environmental implications. Also, unlike mined gems, the color is inherent in the process and therefore the gems are not color-enhanced.

There are ethically sourced, fair-trade, mined gems available. These are a good option for consumers who want to help change the industry by supporting the workers and mining communities.

Meghan's BIO:

CELESTE: What should concerned consumers be aware of when buying jewelry?

MEGHAN: There are a myriad of issues associated with the traditional jewelry industry. Mining, simply stated, has significant environmental consequences and the social implications of the diamond and gem trade go well beyond the funding of war. Concerned consumers should learn more about labor and community issues and know that alternatives exist. C5 has made “sustainable replicas” of gorgeous jewelry that our clients have fallen in love with, but couldn’t bring themselves to purchase. You don’t have to sacrifice beauty for sustainability.

To consumers looking for more information about the issues, I recommend reading The Last Empire by Stefan Kanfer and The Heartless Stone by Tom Zoellner.

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