Ethical jewelry: A conversation with the founders of 202 EDITIONS

A combination of tradition and modernity in the design process, but the craftsmanship at the workbench is what fills the piece of jewelry with life and gives it value.

Interview with Karin Heimberg and Maryvonne Wellen, founders of 202 EDITIONS

202 EDITIONS Interview Cover
Copyright by Volker Conradus - Source by 202 EDITIONS

Author: House of Eden

In our interview with Karin and Maryvonne, the founders of 202 EDITIONS, we dive into the world of ethical jewelry. Learn how the two goldsmiths' passion for craftsmanship and design inspired them to start their own label and how they combine their traditional training with modern approaches. A conversation about innovation, responsibility and the future of jewelry.

202 Editions Portrait

Founders of 202 Editions: Karin Heimberg & Maryvonne Wellen - Copyright by 202 Editions

Have you always wanted to start your own label or was there a special moment that inspired you to do so?

We founded 202 EDITIONS to pursue and implement our passions and our own ideas, ideas and values ​​without compromise.

We initially decided independently that we would like to set up our own jewelry label at some point. For me (Karin) it was clear from the start that I didn't want to do this alone, but as part of a team. In the end, it was Maryvonne who asked me whether I could imagine starting a new business with her. We then decided relatively quickly to found 202 EDITIONS.

In our professional careers, we have gained a wide range of insights into various positions in the jewelry and design industry and were also professionally involved in university teaching, so that based on our experiences, knowledge and attitude, we knew exactly what we wanted to do differently.

What did you learn in your traditional training as a goldsmith - and what are you doing differently today?

During the training we learned the craft of making unique jewelry using different techniques from scratch, Karin in Germany and I (Maryvonne) in the Netherlands. During the training you devote yourself entirely to the craft, learning traditional techniques in order to create even complicated pieces of jewelry. During our design studies, we enjoyed creative freedom, used various digital tools and technologies in our design processes and also started working in series, each of us pursuing our own focus.

At 202 EDITIONS we combine the influences of both training courses. We develop our jewelry collections very conceptually and implement the first drafts analogue or digitally.

We initially developed our four signature profiles, on which our entire jewelry collection design is based, completely digitally. But we implemented it, for example, in our own drawing iron, a traditional tool, which gives the silver and gold wire the desired shape before it is then further processed into a piece of jewelry.

In this example you can clearly see that we combine analogue and digital, tradition and modernity again and again in the design process - with the implementation and the craftsmanship at the workbench being what fills the piece of jewelry with life and gives it a unique value gives.

In short, what are the values ​​of 202 Editions?

202 EDITIONS stands for jewelry with recognition value and timeless design. We create limited edition pieces of jewelry made exclusively from recycled silver and gold, complemented with selected vintage gemstones. The love of craftsmanship, coupled with a holistic understanding of responsibility, reflects our attitude.

202EDITIONS workshop

Copyright by 202 Editions - Source by 202 Editions

How important is traditional craftsmanship to you in a world full of fast consumer goods?

The craft itself and the things that are made have a different value, they still have the traces of the work and also carry more and more life and something characteristic within them, they convey a special charisma.

In our new collection, which we will launch at the end of November 2023, we deliberately work very manually on some pieces of jewelry and incorporate traces of the manufacturing process. We contrast the supposed perfection with the organic, formed by hands.

You work with a special production model: On Demand. Why did you decide to do this?

We describe ourselves as a responsible jewelry label and treat the resources we use to make our jewelry accordingly. This also means that we do not want to produce “dead stock”. Precisely because we also work in a limited edition of 202 pieces per design, working on-demand underlines our idea here too.

The jewelry industry is often criticized, particularly due to precarious material procurement and manufacturing defects. How does 202 Editions stand out?

From the very beginning, we asked ourselves what values ​​we wanted to live in our company and what we wanted to convey with our label. It was a crucial reason for us to become self-employed in order to realize this. We want to show the jewelry industry that it is possible to produce jewelry as a values-based company with a focus on resource-saving and socially responsible ways. Together with sustainable jewelry labels, we naturally want to promote a rethink in the industry.

In addition to a very short supply chain and regional suppliers, we largely avoid using industrial raw materials in order to be able to have a precise overview of our supply chain. We do not use surface coatings to guarantee the longevity of the jewelry and to make recycling as easy as possible. We also want to use as few complex chemical processes as possible.

202 EDITIONS Interview

Copyright by Volker Conradus - Source by 202 EDITIONS

What materials do you work with and why?

We only work with recycled silver and gold from German refineries. In our new collection we will also be working with selected vintage gemstones in some pieces of jewelry. These are gemstones that have usually already been set in a piece of jewelry or come from very, very old stocks. We only want to use materials that are already in circulation and thus do not further promote the depletion of finite resources with the associated environmental destruction and often precarious working conditions.

Nevertheless, there are an incredible number of people who are dependent on precious metal mining. For this we support the “Earthbeat Foundation” with 1% of our annual sales. Guya Merkle and her foundation are building up an alternative source of income with the different communities, so that the gold mines are then closed. We also support the Dutch foundation “Mama Cash”, which supports women, girls and trans groups in the global south with financial resources, know-how and networking opportunities so that they can lead self-determined lives.

Can working with recycled precious metals be scaled up or will it remain a USP for sustainable labels in the (slow) luxury sector?

Recycled precious metal is often exclusively assigned to sustainable jewelry labels. This is also right and important because special attention is paid to a “clean” supply chain and manufacturing process. In order to understand the entire topic, you have to broaden your perspective a bit and look at the entire context:

Due to the material value, as long as jewelry has existed, great attention has been paid to reusing and recycling entire pieces of jewelry and production waste of all kinds. In addition, Germany is a country poor in raw materials, which makes recycling even more attractive, so that today 85-90% of the gold processed by refineries in Germany is recycled gold.

With this in mind, scaling is of course possible. To ensure that the use of recycled precious metals continues to be possible, a sustainable label in particular should make a targeted effort to make a contribution to closing the precious metal cycle.

202EDITIONS_Workshop

Copyright by 202 Editions - Source by 202 Editions

How do you assess the development of the jewelry industry in the next 5 years?

This is related to the previous answer: We as part of an industry but also personally as consumers have to take so-called urban mining to the extreme and finally remove the thousands of electronic devices that are in our homes next to the old ones great-aunt's piece of jewelry lies dormant in the drawers and cellars, recycled and returned to the cycle.

The chip and semiconductor industries use relatively little gold (a few tenths of a gram) in a single product, but the sheer mass of the products makes this an incredibly large source of material resources.

The industry needs to broaden its perspective here. We can't just rework our great-aunt's piece of jewelry or melt it down again, but we also have to position ourselves more broadly and value all material resources and bring them back into the cycle. This will play an important role in the future and further promote the circular economy.

Thank you Karin and Maryvonne for the interview.

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