When jewelery becomes an expression of modern values ​​and lifestyle

Avenida Santiago founder Roland Knipfer on fair jewelery as a sustainable & ethical step in the evolution of the jewelery industry 

 

Interview with Roland Knipfer, Founder Avenida Santiago

Santiago Avenue
Source & Copyright by Avenida Santiago

Zero point

Author: House of Eden

Modern demands on jewelry go far beyond design and aesthetics. It is about social and ecological responsibility with regard to the extraction and processing of the materials and along their entire life cycle. And also about the feeling that a piece of jewelery can convey to its wearer. Roland Knipfer, founder of Avenida Santiago, has made this responsibility the core of his work. That's why his jewelry brand stands for timeless statement pieces with a clear design language, which are made of 100% recycled silver and are manufactured in Germany in a climate-friendly manner.

In an interview, he reveals which grievances can be avoided by using recycled silver, why there should be just as much awareness of fast jewelery as there is of fast fashion, and which developments jewelery brands need to adapt to in order to remain relevant in the future.

Santiago Roland Avenue

Source & Copyright by Avenida Santiago

The rejuvenation of the luxury market brings with it challenges such as digitalization, which the jewelry sector has long resisted. People feared that online trading would devalue their products or water down their brand. A fear that has now clearly proven to be unfounded.

Was there a special moment that inspired you to found Avenida Santiago?

I would speak less of a moment and more of a phase. A number of years ago I had a lot to do with silver jewelery professionally. And also because I was personally very interested in the topic, I took a close look at the market situation at the time. It quickly became clear to me that there was hardly any relevant offer at a certain point: Sophisticated silver jewelery with excellent workmanship, manufactured fairly and sustainably in Germany. Silver is often used merely as a cheap alternative too gold or considered platinum. However, this perspective does not do justice to this - in my opinion - wonderful precious metal in any way. Silver is one of the oldest and most beautiful jewelry metals. It is less pretentious than gold and has a warmer glow than platinum.

Due to the status quo, I found it an adventure and a great challenge to take silver from the lowlands of cheaply produced mass-produced goods to a new level of exclusivity. At the same time, I was always convinced of the success of this mission and am sure that it captures the spirit of the times.

What exactly does Avenida Santiago embody?

I wish that Santiago Avenue primarily embodies an attitude to life of carefree freedom. Carefree, because our jewelry makes it clear that mindful and responsible consumption does not mean doing without or restricting the quality of life. On the contrary: it can mean fulfilment, happiness and joie de vivre. And freedom, because we want to encourage people to express their individuality without being restricted by social constraints. This is also the reason why our collection is unisex, i.e. for everyone.

That is why Avenida Santiago also embodies the New Luxury. Our brand stands for a complex of values ​​made up of exclusivity, quality and personal happiness, as well as Sustainability and fairness in the entire history of the creation of the pieces of jewellery.

Why do you only produce from recycled silver?

There are no aesthetic reasons behind our decision to make jewelry from recycled silver. Recycled and mined silver are completely identical - both in appearance and in their technical, physical and chemical properties. Solely decisive: Reasons of ecological and social fairness. Silver is also a scarce resource. Based on current production levels, global reserves will be exhausted in less than 30 years. Reason enough not to unnecessarily exploit this precious raw material.

AS contribution

Source & Copyright by Avenida Santiago

Even more important, however, seemed to me the fact that silver mining has extremely harmful, if not destructive, side effects for people and nature. These range from environmental destruction on a huge scale in the mining regions, to inhuman working conditions, to criminal activities such as corruption, money laundering, slavery, as well as forced and child labor. The same applies to gold mining, by the way.

Of course, one could now argue that without mined silver, neither would it Recycling it is possible. But this argument falls short. After all, mined silver exists and cannot be undone. With recycling, however, one can ensure that existing stocks are optimally used and reused. Every gram of silver that finds a new use in this way does not have to be mined additionally or newly.

What do you say to the recurring criticism that recycled materials are of inferior quality?

Unfortunately, this argument applies to many materials. Recycled plastics can often only be used where the highest material quality is not important. The situation is different with precious metals, however. They can be almost completely isolated from foreign matter and recovered in a form that is just as pure as the precious metal originally extracted from ore.

So there is no quality reason against using recycled silver. But many reasons speak for it. In addition to the avoidance of defects already mentioned, recycling also consumes significantly less energy compared to conventional silver extraction.

How else do you integrate sustainability & fairness into your production?

In addition to the exclusive processing of recycled silver, we ensure with German production that every worker is paid fairly and has social security. In addition, we produce at an extremely high level of environmental protection. For German companies, "Made in Germany" also has the advantage that the jewelry does not have to travel halfway around the world to get its marketing location to achieve.

However, the ecological sustainability of Avenida Santiago is not limited to jewelry production. Even our cases come from a small regional sewing workshop that uses pure, elastane-free organic cotton. In this way we can ensure that at the end of the life cycle of the case, no Micro plastic got into the environment. We regard plastic-free packaging and CO2-neutral shipping as a matter of course, which only round off the concept.

Source & Copyright by Avenida Santiago

We are taking another big step towards sustainability with our free repair promise. Durable products like our jewelry are sustainable per se. But we go one step further by repairing every piece of jewelry free of charge if damage occurs that goes beyond normal signs of wear. And unlimited in time. This is how we create the conditions for the next generation to be able to enjoy our jewelry.

Why is there so much more awareness of fast fashion than fast jewellery?

It takes time for an awareness of the problem to manifest itself in society. To put it bluntly: The abuses in the textile industry and the negative consequences of fast fashion have been known for a long time. Clothing is also a bigger issue than jewelry because - to put it bluntly - everyone needs something to wear. In contrast, no one "needs" jewelry. Jewelry is a pure luxury item.

Another reason: Naturally, the end product and its disposal are more in the focus of consumers than the problems of production. This takes place more in the background. For example, the critical disposal of synthetic fibers is easier to understand than the extraction and processing of jewelry made of precious metals. Apart from the topic blood diamonds, the associated ecological and social problems are unfortunately still relatively unknown.

However, these problems are now also being increasingly noticed in the jewelry industry, which is reflected in a massive increase in demand for fairly produced jewelry. So I'm very confident that I can see a similar development in fair jewelery as in fair fashion. Especially since our society today is much more sensitive to unfair and destructive production conditions and "clean" alternatives than it was a few years ago.

How does Avenida Santiago ensure the longevity of the jewelry?

The most important characteristics of our jewelery are timeless design and excellent processing quality. The design has the best prerequisites for a long service life, as we do not follow fashion trends. Instead, we use a classic design language. Similar to the Bauhaus style, we work with a construction kit of few basic forms. This results in timeless jewelery that retains its topicality for years. Regardless of short-lived trends, our jewelry remains and motivates in this way sustainable consumption.

Avenida Santiago Cover-2

Source & Copyright by Avenida Santiago

In addition to timelessness, we guarantee longevity by relying on solidity and dispensing with filigree, easily destructible elements. Solid sterling silver and skilful workmanship also ensure high mechanical durability. And if damage does occur, our repair promise comes into play.

What challenges will the jewelry industry have to overcome in the coming years?

Ecological and social sustainability will play an increasingly important role in the production and trade of jewelry. With the advent of the new understanding of luxury This movement started a few years ago and has now gained significant momentum, but I believe that it is far from over. For example, the luxury customers of the future are getting younger and more female. According to all expectations, the purchasing power of women will increase significantly. And that worldwide. Both jewelry brands and retailers have to live up to this reality in order to remain competitive.

Especially the Rejuvenation of the luxury market brings further challenges. Challenges that our jewelry sector has long denied - for example digitization. People feared that online trading would devalue their products or water down their brand. A fear that has now clearly proven to be unfounded. Since the next generation of relevant consumers is increasingly shopping online and has grown up with it, there is great catching-up potential here.

But the industry is also being challenged by new demands for credibility and transparency. While there used to be a strict separation between providers and consumers - a situation that allowed brands to create their own world through marketing and PR - this has become blurred in our digitized world. Consumers don't want any empty advertising promises hear more, but demand credible and verifiable standards, for example for ethical action or climate protection.

Thank you for the interview, dear Roland! 

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