While the JUSUF necklace is not perfectly sustainable, it is still one of the better necklace options out there, and so I would recommend it to a friend. My main problems lie in the metals that the necklace is actually made of, but otherwise it seems fairly sustainable. Ana Luisa as a whole seems to have a genuinely ethical ethos, with a slow design and release process. They list the employee benefits of their factory works on their website, and also treat their NYC workers well. The fact that they didn’t list the NYC employee benefits on the website, and that I had to dig a bit to actually find them makes me even more confident that Ana Luisa is a genuinely good company, because they are doing the right thing even when its not in an attempt to show how ethical and sustainable they are. The necklace itself is beautiful and classic, and if it is anything like other pieces I have from Ana Luisa, it will last a long time. Ana Luisa may not be perfect, but perfection in sustainability is really rare, and I think that if you are in need of a new necklace the JUSUF would not be a bad choice.
The JUSUF necklace is made out of brass plated gold. Brass is a metal alloy made up of copper zinc and tin, which are not the most environmentally friendly materials. They have to be mined and the mining process uses a lot of energy and contributes to atmospheric carbon. Gold is generally the same, with its mining process and the carbon it gives off being the reason for its lack of sustainability. Certain parts of the Ana Luisa website mention recycled gold, but they do not specifically list it for the JUSUF necklace, so I have to assume that newly mined gold was used. I understand that high quality metals have to be used to make sure the necklace will be durable, but I would have really preferred if they were recycled. Additionally, I do not like that this necklace is gold plated. When a metal is plated, that means a thin layer is painted on top of the inner layer. This top layer can be scratched or rub off over time. This would lead to the necklace changing color and sheen, and probably lead to the end of its product lifecycle (this is backed up by the 365 day warrantee - why does a necklace have a warranty?). I would have preferred if it was gold filled, where the outer layer is much thicker which leads to a longer lasting product. There are some positives to metal though. Metals are infinitely recyclable, and are less likely to break and end up in a landfill. The use of fine metals also makes these necklaces more likely to be repaired if broken, because a buyer would not want to throw out something so valuable.
This was covered in the last section, but the gold plating vs. gold filled situation definitely pertains to the “how its made” section as well, because if something is not made to last then its certainly less sustainable. This is the fault of the design team, and something I hope they fix in the future. One thing that I do think is fairly sustainable is the style. It’s a simple gold chain that can be incorporated into layering or worn alone, and isn’t very trendy - which is a good thing. Another good thing is that they release their pieces in small batches to attempt to eliminate waste. This is definitely a good step in waste-reducing, but I would have also liked to see some more information on how they reduce waste in their production, shipping, and packaging. Their website does not list the actual name of the factory they work with, but it does tell you that the JUSUF necklace is made in Panyu, China, that the factory has several ISO (International Standard for Certification) certifications that ensure quality and a lower environmental impact with regular auditing, a SAI (Social Accountability International) certification for child labor, forced labor, health and safety, and more, and a certification from the RJC (Responsable Jewelry Council). I am definitely a fan of the transparency in this area. One area that I wish had more transparency is their sourcing. As far as their gold and brass sourcing, they only list that their gold comes from Germany and their brass comes from Italy and China. While this may be more information than most companies provide, I think there should be some more information on who they source from and if their operations are sustainable and ethical.
Much of the information I listed in the last section is relevant to the “who makes it” section as well. The factory they work with in Panyu, China has all of the of certifications for workers benefits that I listed above, but the website specifically lists insurance and a housing fund and additional employee benefits. While of course - even with the auditing that Ana Luisa does - it is hard to know if the employees are truly getting these benefits overseas, it seems that they have put a lot of effort into finding a factory that treats their employees well. As far as their production team in the US (they are based in Greenpoint NYC) it seems that they also have really progressive benefits. On a recent job listed they listed their benefit as 100% employer based health care, unlimited sicks says, unlimited paid time off, flexible work from home options, and 401K matching. Ana Luisa was founded in 2018, and often startups tend to expect their employees to work themselves to the bone for the success of the company, but it is clear that Ana Luisa values their employees as people as well as workers. I really think they should highlight this more on their website though, because people would be interested to know this! While other companies have seemed to be this ethical and then scandals have come out proving otherwise, Ana Luisa has been scandal free, and so I have to assume that they are really creating the positive working environment for employees that they say they are.