luca jouel says accountability is worth its weight in gold
11 min read
Born in Australia from the mind of Tereena Lucas, this unique fine jewellery brand has set its sights on revolutionising how we shop for our forever piece. Becoming part of a wave of young brands designing for our future, we spoke to Tereena to hear how Luca Jouel is creating for good.
HOW DOES THE PROCESS OF JEWELLERY DESIGN BEGIN?
For me, the process of jewellery design begins with the stones themselves where ideas for how they could be grouped or set come and go, and it is really a sort of nostalgic feeling that I am interested to create through the combination of metal and stone colours and lustre. I really love the details, the textures and finishing, the different ways metals look and feel depending on how they have been worked. I am also a lover of patterns, especially organic or nature inspired that you will note throughout my collections.
HOW DID YOU SELECT YOUR SUPPLIERS?
I have chosen my precious metal and diamond suppliers on the basis of their transparency and CSR. It was and is important to me to work with people that also consider they have innate social and environmental responsibilities. I recently created a limited edition coloured gemstone collection using stones I have collected over the years. I have always loved gemstones and would like to include more of them in my designs, however I have not as yet found a gemstone supplier local to me that I can work with that shares the same values and where I can physically examine and personally select the stones which is also important to me, so this is still a work in progress.
THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN EVASIVE – WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CHANGE THAT?
I think the diamond industry is being transformed, albeit slowly, in the direction of increasing accountability in line with increasing industry awareness and consumer desire for transparent commerce. Being a boutique concern with insufficient buying power, I have certainly met my fair share of reluctance to be accountable over and above Kimberley Process compliance. I have worked very hard to engage with progressive suppliers and I promote to my prospective customers the value of my commitment to the creation of ethical and sustainable jewellery.
DO YOU THINK JEWELLERS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE TRANSPARENT?
I do agree that transparency is ideal, however, I can tell you it is still not a concept on everyone’s radar. Whilst notable companies like Argyle, Tiffany & Co., Garrard, Stephen Webster and the DeBeers Group are leading the charge, many jewellers would rather maintain the status quo. Perhaps in large part, this is because longstanding supply chain relationships exist that are providing such jewellers with what they require, so there is considered no need to change what is working for them personally.
As an independent jeweller, I can most certainly understand this because it is not an easy road to travel given greater industry support is still lacking. I have often felt like a unicorn which is quite an odd sensation given these are issues I have always felt to be so fundamental. Continued exposure to human rights and environmental issues can only help to increase clarity around the reasons that transparency is required for the greater good.
CAN THE JEWELLERY INDUSTRY BE REVOLUTIONIZED FOR GOOD – HOW?
Jewellery is a universal form of adornment that humans have either admired, coveted or created since prehistoric times. Because of such fascination and engagement, I do indeed believe the industry can be revolutionized for good. Any revolution requires collaborative action and there are already many groups, representing considerable diversity, that are proactively working to facilitate greater responsibility and positive change with respect to human rights, government/infrastructure support for sustainable development in artisanal mining, ethical supply chains of minerals, establishment of networks for sustainable supply chain opportunities and the raising of overall awareness.
LUCA JOUEL IS A MEMBER OF THE AUSTRALIAN FASHION COUNCIL (AFC) – WHAT DOES THIS ORGANISATION DO FOR FASHION AND THE JEWELLERY INDUSTRY?
Luca Jouel is very pleased to be a part of the AFC whose primary role is to support and promote the growth of the Australian fashion industry, inclusive of textiles and jewellery. As a not-for-profit membership organisation with over 65 years of service in the industry, members include micro to large companies, state and national industry associations, as well as education bodies and students. The AFC has five areas of key focus: strengthening supply chains, growing Australian exports, helping new businesses become established, fostering design and innovation, and last but certainly not least, developing industry best practices in ethical and sustainable products.
YOURE PASSIONATE ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL ECOLOGY – WHAT SPARKED THIS FOR YOU?
I think I must have been about 10 years old when I first became aware of the work of biologist Rachel Carson, noted author of the 1962 book, Silent Spring. The concept of hormone disruption by man-made persistent organic pollutants really captured my thoughts. Rather serendipitously I was given the opportunity to be involved in research at Telethon Kids Institute here in Perth looking into the environmental causes of the common congenital birth defect hypospadias that affects male babies.
The condition results in the immature formation of the urethra to varying degrees and reasons for this all point in the direction of endocrine disrupting chemicals altering hormone pathways during key windows of development. No one is immune to environmental contamination, it has been detected as far away as Greenland, and also quite abundantly in breast milk- notably as residues of many organic pesticides that were banned years ago.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WENT WRONG WITH HUMANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT?
First and foremost, I think there has been a consistent lack of consideration for the ecological consequences of our collective actions. Some of the most important human constructs that have devastated the relationship include plastics, pesticides, reckless mining and unrestrained consumerism. These have been driven by a combination of arrogance, ignorance, greed, a belief in endless resources and limitless expansion, significant levels of personal unhappiness and disconnect, and skewed perception of the value of technological advancement and scientific expression over the needs of the natural environment. And complacency.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IS THE ANSWER TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?
A more sustainable future starts with individual awareness and accountability. This especially translates to being a mindful consumer. Then it is dependent upon the collaborative community and global efforts where environmentally conscious governance is especially key. Unfortunately, positive energy initiatives and monitoring of the effects of environmental chemical contamination has not seen support from the Trump administration, however encouraging examples of environmental protection that do support a more sustainable future can be seen elsewhere with the increasing outlaw of single-use plastics in many countries, the slow-fashion and recycled clothing movements, and the responsible leadership actions of influential companies involved in the supply of precious metals, such as Pallion that I work with.
WHAT DO YOU WANT LUCA JOUEL’S LEGACY TO BE?
I started Luca Jouel with the intention of creating beautiful, heirloom quality jewellery that was thoughtfully designed. In many ways, it would have been far easier to forget the ethics and simply create with abandon because unfortunately there is considerable industry support for such a business model. Instead I am proud of what I have created with Luca Jouel despite the obstacles. By following this path I believe Luca Jouel has had a positive impact through people connecting with my jewellery and coming to understand our brand ethos and value proposition, consequently becoming more informed and conscious consumers. Ultimately, I would like Luca Jouels legacy to be one of influencing positive change and contributing to the greater good.
Written by - Katie Stalker