When it comes to sustainable jewelry, Washed Ashore is leading the way with recycled metals and jewels and an ethos that emphasizes elevating women.
The Ethos founders recently caught up with Larada Lamsam, founder of the purpose-driven jewelry brand, Washed Ashore. Lamsam talked ethics, sustainability, and the brand’s forthcoming Goddess Box. It’ll help you get a jump on your holiday list—it’s the perfect gift for beauty and self-care lovers.
Ethos: How did Washed Ashore get started?
Larada Lamsam: Washed Ashore was conceived out of my love for nature and jewelry. My background is in archaeology, which exposed me to various artifacts and the art of metalsmithing and gemology. I have always been fascinated by the role that jewelry has played throughout human history. Jewelry is relics of ornaments, talismans, amulets, and the materialization of the sentimental values it holds.
My other passion lies in nature. As an artist, I am perpetually inspired by her designs and the life lessons she teaches us through her creations. Once I learned of the modern-day jewelry manufacturing process and its detrimental effects on the people and the environment, I decided that we would do things differently. Washed Ashore proudly launched as a completely sustainable brand in May 2019, offering beautiful jewelry without harming the environment and the people in the making.
Ethos: What is the Goddess Box?
Larada Lamsam: The Goddess Box is a carefully curated box that brings to our customers a compilation of sustainable and ethical items handmade by women, in the hopes of providing you with the right elements for a sacred ritual to awaken your inner goddess. All contents are carefully selected. Our partnering brands are all BIPOC, women-owned, ethical, and sustainable. We believe in aligning and supporting like-minded businesses. After all, we are all working towards creating a better future.
The box includes:
- Sage with rose petals smudge stick by Black + Jane (read more about the ethics of using sage, here.)
- Scented candle by Candlessentials
- Lavender bath salts by Made by DWC
- White abalone shell by Mother Nature
- 14K recycled solid gold Goddess hoops by Washed Ashore
- Water Hyacinth Woven box by Artisan women in Phayao Province, Thailand
The Goddess box was created with the intention of helping you to connect with yourself, uncover your true desires and start the new year off with clear intentions and a positive vibration.
Ethos: Can you talk a bit about your upcycled/recycled metals? Where do you source those from?
Larada Lamsam: All of our jewelry is made from 100% recycled gold and silver. We opted for this when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of our products because we are working towards limiting the need for new raw materials to be sourced. The impact of mining is taxing on both the people and the environment. It requires high consumption of water, creates wastelands and pollution. Individuals who engage in mining are also vulnerable to exploitations in the developing countries where most mines are located. Further, we are also able to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions drastically since the process of sourcing, extracting, processing, and transporting raw or virgin materials emits a high amount of them.
We source our recycled gold and silver from our trusted refiner who is a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council and is certified as a responsible and sustainable entity. They also follow the RJC’s Code of Practices and certified chain of custody.
Ethos: And you only repurpose vintage stones? Whats’ that process like? Do you find the pieces and extract the gems or is that done by a third party?
Larada Lamsam: Yes, all of our gemstones are collected by us in the form of vintage jewelry. We source them directly from second-hand jewelry stores in Thailand, where the pieces are partially manufactured at. I’m Thai and am proud to say that Thailand is a jewelry hub where many skilled jewellers are located. Once the second-hand jewelry pieces are obtained, we then get the stones extracted and upcycle them into our designs.
Ethos: How does your sustainability ethos inform your designs?
Larada Lamsam: We only work with materials that we are able to source sustainably and ethically. We tailor the designs accordingly to the availability of the materials needed. Design-wise, the jewelry pieces are inspired by nature’s designs. This, to me, goes hand in hand with sustainability. The goal of our designs is to boast Mother Nature’s beauty, igniting the yearning to protect her. By providing an experience of nature through our jewelry pieces and the brand’s aesthetic and identity, we hope that people will be inspired to be more environmentally conscious.
Ethos: Do you work with lab diamonds?
No, we do not work with lab-grown diamonds at this time. Our choice to strictly use post-consumer diamonds and other gemstones is made from the same principle we apply for the recycled metals mentioned earlier, which is to limit the use of newly mined materials. In doing so, we promote a circular economy, versus the traditional linear one. By reusing all of our materials for as long as their life cycles allow, we are eliminating waste and unnecessary need to mine for more. Also, the same applies to the recycled gold and silver: we are also reducing a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions by disassociating from mining, while also eliminating any environmental and social issues that arise from the process.
Ethos: You use animal products/shells in your designs. Some would say this is unsustainable because it helps keep animal farming afloat. Do you see your relationship with animal products changing over time?
Larada Lamsam: No, I don’t see us discontinuing the use of abalone and Keshi pearls. They are not farmed unsustainably and can’t be confused with sea or land animal factory farming. Pearls and abalones in our case are sourced from small farms. We’ve visited pearl farms in person in the South Pacific and they are family-owned, take great care of their employees. There is no chemical use, virtually no waste since pearls, shells, and meat are all put to use. They’re not a scarce resource and their farming supports the economy of countless communities.
Our abalone shells are sourced from abalone farms in Thailand since there is a large food industry for abalone meat. The shells are the by-product of this industry and a large portion ends up as waste. We intentionally divert them from waste and upcycle them into our designs. Not only does this boast their natural beauty, but we are also able to give these shells a second life.
Ethos: How do you see the jewelry industry evolving in the next few years? Where are the trends going?
Larada Lamsam: I hope that the industry will evolve to being more conscious and proactive when it comes to becoming more environmentally and socially sound. I do see that in all industries, not just in jewelry, that we are collectively striving and evolving to be more ethical and sustainable.
Ethos: What’s coming up for the brand?
We are always working towards raising the bar when it comes to our sustainability initiatives. We are working towards getting certified B-Corp, a certification for businesses to be verified and held accountable for the balance between purpose and profit. To us, this will also help ensure our customers that our ethical and sustainable claims are valid and are certified by a third party with no bias.
We are also excited to be launching some new variations of our current pieces for the upcoming holiday season, along with, of course, The Goddess Box!
Learn more on the Washed Ashore website.