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Christina Malle: from Attorney to Jewelry Designer

The brand's founder speaks of her original career which now sees her playing an active part in promoting sustainable jewelry 

  • Cristina Malle

    Cristina Malle

«Have you ever taken a class or met someone who changed your life? This happened to me! I was walking along the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and I noticed a sign outside. The sign announced some upcoming art classes, including one called “Goldsmithing for Absolute Beginners.” This goldsmithing class, and its extraordinary teacher, Donna Distefano, changed my life. I didn’t know it then, but I would eventually cease my work as a human rights attorney and devote myself to a new career: as a goldsmith and gemologist. Donna taught all of her students to ask about the gemstones and the precious metals we used. Where were they from? What were the conditions for people and planet at the mine sites, and from processing, cutting and polishing to market? In a word, I was lucky that Donna was my first goldsmithing instructor. Donna is a goldsmith extraordinaire and she is also committed to mitigating the environmental impact of jewelry-making. Previously, as a human rights lawyer representing asylum-seekers in the US, I had met people from around the world. One young client had been a gold miner in Sierra Leone, until persecution and violence drove her to exile. I saw a face and a story and a community behind the materials like gold, with which I was learning to work.»

«A couple of years later, another jewelry industry veteran, Walter McTeigue, generously shared his insights into the environmental impact of jewelry. Walter kindly introduced me to Christina Miller, a co-founder of Ethical Metalsmiths (she is now a member of its Advisory Council), who in turn pointed me towards excellent research materials on the supply chain. Christina Miller is a torchbearer and gifted advocate for change; of course I wanted to join the group called Ethical Metalsmiths! I now serve on the Board of Directors of EM and write articles for the group to share my research on the environmental and human rights impact of the jewelry supply chain.»

Traceability is a very fine place to start on the journey towards being “responsible.” Consumers have enormous power when they ask these questions and insist on disclosure.«I was delighted to obtain Fairmined certification in 2019; and I choose colored gemstones from known sources and from vendors who disclose the working conditions of their gemstone cutters and polishers.»

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