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Natalie Dissel’s Everlasting Ethical Jewellery

Did you know a wedding ring made from normal gold can produce 20 tonnes of waste? Discover how this Bali-based designer has been championing ethical practices in jewellery-making for over a decade. 

By Tanja Wessels
July 20, 2021

Internationally renowned jewellery designer Natalie Dissel has incorporated ethical practices in her company from the very start. Celebrated for her unique wearable pieces of art, the Dutch jewellery maker has made traditional craftsmanship the heart of her designs since launching her company in 2006.  

“My aim since the beginning has been to create jewellery that is everlastingboth in style and in quality”, says Dissel of her business ethics that includes inviting customers to repair or recycle their jewellery, and providing eco tips on keeping jewellery looking its best. 

Dissel’s designs are bold and bright, crafted from distinctive materials that include 22k gold, sterling silver, semi-precious stones, leather, and shells.  

While most jewellery is designed on a computer, Dissel designs by hand. Running her own workshop in Bali using traditional goldsmithing tools and techniques allows her to support the local community and pay fair prices for labour and skills. 

According to Dissel, using recycled gold and silver of identical quality to newly mined refined gold or silver avoids the environmentally damaging effects of mining. The bespoke jewellery is crafted with Ethically Fair Trade mined gold from central Kalimantan, which is mined by a group of indigenous woman, under a fair trade project. 

In 2021, the designer is focusing on replacing Kimberly Process certified diamonds with ethically sourced Canadian diamonds, and is offering reclaimed diamonds within bespoke designs. Concerns around the flawed Kimberly Process certification have prompted Dissel to find ways to actively support artisanal miners, a crucial part of the sustainable jewellery process.  

Gemstones are sourced from around the world, from small producers or independent gem collectors, mostly straight from the mines in Brazil, Morocco and Sri Lanka. Acknowledging the issues involved in sourcing gemstones for ethical jewellery, continual research allows the company to “progress towards our goal of working solely with ethically sourced materials”. 

Dissel’s studio reclaims, recycles, and repurposes wherever possible. Excess metals are collected to be recycled, and harmful acids used in the jewellery making process have been reduced, in some cases mixing natural ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice to make alternatives. The carbon footprint is offset by donating trees to, mitigating the business’s production and shipping emissions. 

Passionate about the materials she works with, Dissel has long understood the relationship between the regenerative practices, safeguarding the environment, and sustainable business. Her experience and insights are ones she hopes to share with jewellery makers, and lovers, far and wide.