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Thinking about Ethics &
the Creative Practice




Keith A. Lewis, Artist, Professor of Art, Central Washington University

"We have a responsibility to try to make a difference, if only by a gesture. Gestures turn insignificance into power. They change the worthless to the precious. This is important because we make precious things. As artists, we have a feebler excuse than most for avoiding important gestures because what we do depends on understanding, deep down, the meanings, implications and truths of what we make. We must understand not only what we intend our work to mean, but what baggage and burdens our work takes on because of the context of our world."


this article plus other interessting perspectives available at





Art Jewellery Forum, AJF – has an excellent collection of essays on the ethics of making


Bijoux sans Frontières

by Mah Rana
studied jewellery at Royal College of Art and  psychology at London Metropolitan University.

“Perhaps I’m being true to my own Generation X cynical sensibilities but it seems that today’s revolutionary flag is not always being waved by todays’ art jewellers as it was in the late 1970s and 1980s; but sometimes more by commercially driven jewellery enterprises that are advocating both responsible and ethical design in response to some of the human right issues that are associated with and championed by the Baby Boomer Generation. Traditional values of jewellery were questioned by the likes of Knobel, Degen, Broadhead and Boekhoudt whilst rejecting gold and its capitalist connotations. But in an expected turnaround, in some sectors of today’s jewellery industry, the use and trade of gold is now being used to address and promote environmental sustainability and uphold human rights for exploited miners and gem workers (adults and children). So maybe it is Generation Y jewellers like Van Oost, and future Generation Z jewellers, born into an era of globalisation highly connected by media technologies, who are in and who will take up the revolution and actions like the Slow Movement – placing value in people, addressing the needs of the collective rather than the individual, living a connected live.”



Throw off the wet blanket and go wildly ethical.

Kevin Murray’s response to Bruce Metcalf’s article

... responded critically to an article I wrote for AJF about ethical jewelry which was recently reposted on this blog.  The kind of ... values involved in the critique of preciousness to Ethical Metalsmiths that recruit practice to environmental sustainability. ...


Concerning ethics in jewelry
Bruce Metcalf
"Good ethics are nice, and it’s hard to defend practices like the use of blood diamonds, but as soon as you start requiring certain behaviors, you enter the ugly territory of intellectual fascism. If we wish to overlook fine upstanding ethical standards and only talk to ourselves, that’s our right."


Aesthetics versus Ethics: Judgment day for contemporary jewelry
Kevin Murray
... the brand on our smart phones to see how it fares on ethical checklists. The same applies to cultural consumption. In Australia, ... Meanwhile, the broader world of jewelry is embracing ethical agendas. Standards such as Walmart’s Terracycle and industry ...


Joyaviva: Live Jewellery From Across the Pacific
Meredith Turnbull
... curator and writer Kevin Murray and is associated with the Ethical Design Laboratory, a research area of the RMIT Centre for Design at ... that Joyaviva coincides with and follows the rise of ethical and sustainable evolutions within contemporary jewelry and the sphere ...


The Change We Can Wear
Kevin Murry
... seeks new frontiers. Where will they be found? Ethical Turn We now see an alternative model of jewelry emerging ... being bound to it. This situation is changing. With the ethical turn in recent times, we have seen a re-evaluation of function in art. ...


Notes on Excess
Lena Vigna
... conversation they could raise. Both Gabriel Craig and the Ethical Metalsmiths take on the intersection of luxury, decadence and ... and connect people with responsibly sourced materials,” Ethical Metalsmiths has conceptualized and organized community-based projects ...


The Mystery of Coantemporary Jewelry in India
Kevin Murray
... to the meaning of the work. This is most obvious in the ethical dimension. While much of the Abhushan audience was dazzled by the ... Indian contemporary jewelry could embody in its production ethical values about social relations. We are already seeing the impact of .



Adornment and Excess: Jewelry in the 21st Century
Kathleen Browne
... Makeover Project created by the non-profit organization Ethical Metalsmiths ( www.ethicalmetalsmiths.org ). They have presented an ... locations) is to bring to public attention issues of ethical sourcing of precious materials used in jewelry manufacture. The process ...



Jacqueline Mina and the Problem of Contemporary Jewelry in Great Britain
Amanda Game
... or satirized this high-value material as either not ethical or artistically possible any more (think David Poston’s slave manacle ...



Helen Carnac
is a leading thinker on slow design principles and from 2007 she curated the national touring show Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution


Carry the Can took place in 2006…an archive of the project held here

Carry the Can was a project that provided a forum for the discussion of ethical issues that concern contemporary jewellery practice in the UK and internationally.

Through events and virtual discussion and dissemination Carry the Can’s central aim was to foster a more considered position in the practitioner community regarding these questions;

How jewellers and metalsmiths are contributing to legacies within current practice; the implicitness or otherwise of value and morallity within processes of designing and making objects.

The roles and responsibilities of the maker/designer in sourcing materials.

How the broader societal context of ecology, ethics and sustainability relates to the contemporary jewellery design arena.

How do we re-appraise concepts such as value? Value in what and to whom?




"non–negotiable component of good design is that it has to be responsible, whether that is ethically or environmentally. It should also enliven our lives in some way" says

design critic of the Herald Tribune and former Director of the London Design Museum in her new book on design "Hello World"

I could not agree more: thinking of design as an agent for change with a moral and environmental dimension


equally relevant

The Ethics of Climate Change
– a philosophers view

Publisher: The Open University, podcast

Climate change raises a range of moral questions. Who’s responsible for the situation we’re now in? How should we live, to avoid making things even worse? And what obligations, if any, do we have to future generations? James Garvey works at the Royal Institute of Philosophy and is author of a book on the ethics of climate change.






would you like to suggest an interesting essay link?
ethical @ utedecker . com












ute decker - sculptural jewellery in recycled silver


ute decker - sculptural jewellery in faritrade eco gold


ute  decker - sculptural jewellery in recycled silver


ute decker- geometric jewellery in fairtrade gold


neck pieces by ute decker
in recycled silver &
Fairtrade Ecological Gold





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