Designer and goldsmith Alexandra Hart is deeply committed to ethical sourcing for metals and gemstones for her nature-inspired jewelry designs. Dramatic, yet somehow balanced, Alexandra manages to straddle the world of hand-fabricated museum-worthy pieces with wearable, functional pieces of jewelry that you might wear everyday.
Alexandra launched her company in 1995, with an emphasis on socially responsible materials. She hammer forms most of her jewelry, which allows her to be sensitive to what the metal is willing to do in the finished piece of jewelry. All of the metal she uses is ALWAYS 100% recycled, which means it is not potentially coming from areas of conflict or where there might be adverse environmental effects. If you look at Alexandra’s designs, you’ll see that she truly has a gift for coaxing beauty and life from precious metals.
Some of her pieces, like the exquisitely articulated Sunburst necklace, or the Chrysanthemum ring, are amazing pieces of wearable sculpture. Others, such as her diamond Crinkle band, are clever interpretations of classic design. All of the pieces, however, are made at Alexandra’s bench by the artist herself, which is a rare and precious amenity.
Alexandra Hart Interview
I had a chance to ask Alexandra a few questions about her history and focus as a socially responsible jewelry artist, and really enjoyed her thoughtful responses. This is an excerpt of the full interview I did for The Contemporary Jewelry Design Group, an organization of independent jewelry artists where Alexandra is a member and I am an Editor. Click here to read the full interview at CJDGjewelers.org.
idazzle.com: Do you always use recycled silver and gold? Why?
Alexandra Hart: Yes. First of all its critically important to me, as a conservationist. Second of all, its pretty easy to do! Since they are precious metals, there’s plenty being recycled and reclaimed, and my preferred supplier has been developing best practices for 100 years, and are SCS Certified.
How do you source gemstones and diamonds that are not from areas of conflict or controversy? How hard is this?
Gems are a whole other story, and much harder to source. I have developed relationships with certain vendors who are either aware or directly involved with the sourcing of the stones they provide, and I have written statements to that effect from them. I have also decided not to use as many colored gemstones in my work, focusing on diamonds and colored diamonds as there are more government standards and processes in place to assure the sourcing. Lastly, there is one colored gem supplier who has been a pioneer in fair trade and responsible mining practices, from whom I try to buy from exclusively at this point.
How did your background working with Lagerfeld and Givenchy shape your jewelry design aesthetic?
Good question! Actually, the concept of fashion and drama fits perfectly with my aesthetic- I am sure the couture and “incoming style” training in the costume jewelry industry had a lasting effect on my fine jewelry work. I think I developed a concern for the current looks and incoming styles that has helped me get my work published and promoted. I am even collaborating right now with a couture fashion designer in San Diego for an upcoming show in the spring…
What kinds of questions do you wish jewelry customers would ask their jewelers before buying a piece of jewelry?
I am not an extremist, but I would hope that people look for the best choices, either by buying locally from smaller studio jewelers who more often and more easily can sustain “green” practices, and to ask the jewelry store the hard questions they themselves are concerned about. For me, these are knowing from which country and mine the stones are from, and for knowing where the metal is from (reclaimed or fair mined). I am not anti-“made in china” but I think that designers who have factories making their work should visit and find the best places to make their pieces.
You’ve been doing this since 1995, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life or business so far?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Maybe: Stick to your vision to satisfy your soul. Somehow.