Hannah Louise Lamb

Ethical Journey Case Study

Hannah Louise Lamb


In the first of our series of case studies we speak to Musselburgh based maker, Hannah Louise Lamb. Through this series of posts we aim to highlight that ethical making isn’t an all or nothing approach, more often than not the process is a journey.


Hannah Louise Lamb in her workshop. Image by Ailsa Leonard.


I specialise in creating bespoke jewellery pieces that reflect life’s personal stories, cutting intricate depictions of coastlines and landscapes near and far. My designing is intuitive, informed by a continued appreciation for the world around me at home on the coast of East Lothian or from my childhood in Cornwall.

Inspired by the rugged beauty of nature and the idea that jewellery can encapsulate the cherished moments of our lives, my pieces reflect coastlines, skylines and landscapes of special significance to each of us.

A graduate of Glasgow School of Art and The Royal College of Art, I have completed commissions for The Bodleian Library, The Scottish Government and Scottish Opera as well as taking part in international residencies and workshops. 

I currently sell my work through galleries and shops across the UK and the USA, designing heirloom-worthy jewellery to be passed on for generations to come. 


Coast Rings by Hannah Louise Lamb


When did you start thinking about taking steps to be more ethical in your business, was there a key moment?

I’d been trying to find out ways of making my business more ethical, and started doing research into materials, but found what was available quite restrictive so shelved it for a couple of years, and then when Ian from PMW posted on social media about his event Goldflair, I messaged him for advice on using Fairmined metals, and he was so helpful I decided there and then to try again to source ethical metal. It’s much easier now to source what I need than it was a few years ago. Another big turning point was the 2019 symposium run by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, Making Impact, where we were asked to make an Ethical Pledge, which was a fantastic ask, and has made me commit to some of the ideas I had been floating!


Image credit: James Robertson
What steps have you taken on your ethical journey?

I’m now a Fairmined Licensee, which means I can use Fairmined silver and gold for my designs, and they get hallmarked with the Fairmined mark at Edinburgh Assay Office. I’m also a registered jeweller under the Goldsmith’s scheme, which means I can buy Fairtrade metal. Where Fairmined or Fairtrade isn’t available, I offer 100% recycled metal as standard and I source my gemstones from ethical companies. I’m also recycling and re-purposing customer’s existing gold and gemstones into new pieces for them, which is a lovely thing to do for sentimental reasons, but also from an ethical perspective.

At my home and workshop I use Ecotricity, so all my business energy use is from green sources. I’ve changed all my packaging to sustainable mulberry leaf paper boxes and FSC certified cardboard jewellery boxes, and now post out orders in fully recyclable cardboard boxes. Every piece is hand made by myself and my assistants here in the UK.



Tell me about your experience of making these steps?

Registering as a Fairmined Licensee was an easy process, Fairtrade was trickier but there had been an ongoing problem with their registration which is now fixed.

Why do you think it is important to take these steps, make these changes?

All these changes have increased my business costs, but i think it’s a price worth paying to know that, for example with the Fairmined metal, that miners and communities are being paid and treated fairly, and that with the packaging changes that I’m not adding to plastic waste when I send out an order. My business is paying towards the cost of the switch to Fairmined, but I offer it as an option to buyers, for a small increase in cost, which I cover some of. I like giving my customers the option.

One of Hannah’s Coast Rings back from Hallmarking, with the additional Fairmined mark.
Image Credit: James Robertson


What challenges have you faced in regards to Ethical making and what areas do you think need improved to support your ethical making journey?

It would be great if more metal products were available in ethical materials, such as silver tubing, chain, cufflink fixings, earring backs etc, but I’m hoping in time these will be readily available. Also with pricing, these cost so much more, many times the price for silver, which is hard to factor into my costings when making jewellery from these materials.

What are your ethical making plans for the future?

I would love to reach a point where all my designs can be made in ethical materials, but at the moment it’s just where the right material is available to me. The world is changing and as more of us ask for ethical supplies, the more we can find and use.

Thank you Hannah for sharing your ethical journey with us.

For more information about Hannah Louise Lamb:




The Ethical Making Pledge

How the pledge programme is enacting change in the Scottish art colleges

The Ethical Making Pledge is collaborative project between the Incorporation of Goldsmiths and the art colleges in Scotland that have jewellery and silversmithing courses at HND level and above. The Pledge represents the Incorporation’s and the art colleges efforts to implement ethical making practices into the curriculum and workshop methods in their jewellery departments. This includes introducing ethical sourcing as a primary concern in the procurement of precious metals.

To help make the pledge meaningful and fit for purpose in each of the seven art colleges in Scotland that have jewellery and silversmithing courses, each college nominated two student ambassadors to spread awareness about ethical making and work with the the Incorporation to achieve the goals of the pledge. The student ambassadors will visit the Incorporation of Goldsmiths in Edinburgh twice a year to work together to increase ethical making practice in the art colleges.

The Incorporation of Goldsmiths also visits the college workshops with their Ethical Making Jewellery Advisor, Shirley Lowe, to give talks and tutorials about how to introduce ethical making practices into their workshop practices on both large and small scale.

Learn more about the Pledge and the Incorporation of Goldsmiths’ wider Ethical Making Programme here.

Ethical Making Student Ambassadors 2018

Pictured are student ambassadors at the Incorporation of Goldsmiths Ethical Making Symposium (clockwise from top left): Nicholas Harrington (City of Glasgow College), Barbara Shearer (City of Glasgow College), Shirley Lowe (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee), Daniela Groza (Edinburgh College of Art modelling some of her work), Georgia Phillips (Edinburgh College of Art) and Isla Cruickshank (Glasgow School of Art). Photography: Colin Hattersley.

Originally published on October 3rd  2018 by Emily MacDonald



Ethical Making Pledge Update – December 2018

sustainable change in scotland’s art colleges

Jewellery students and staff in Scotland exemplify responsible practice

If the jewellery industry is to become more sustainable, fair and safe, it is critical for students of jewellery and silversmithing to learn about provenance as part of their education. If this information is available when students are learning how to make and design, on graduation they will already be equipped to consider and implement a fair approach to their practice.

This is why the Incorporation launched the Ethical Making Pledge. The purpose of the pledge is to increase awareness of issues in the jewellery industry and to help students and staff implement ethical making practice into how jewellery and silversmithing is taught. The goals of the pledge are to implement ethical making practices into three key areas.

  1. Lectures and curriculum
  2. Workshops practices and
  3. The procurement of metals.


Representatives from the seven Jewellery and Silversmithing departments in Scotland’s art colleges sign the Incorporation of Goldsmiths’ Ethical Making Pledge, March 28, 2018

Since the launch of the Pledge in March, students and staff from each college have been improving practice in how they make and teach jewellery. The drivers of the Pledge in the colleges are the student ambassadors. These are two aspiring students from each college, nominated by their department leaders to help implement better practice in their department. The ambassadors are doing this through engagement with other students and by demonstrating the methods they have learned in their own practice. The ambassadors are supported by the Incorporation through training sessions and access to resources.

Ethical Making Student Ambassadors at the Elements Festival of Jewellery , Silver and Gold in Edinburgh, November 19th, 2018


Here are just a few of the changes that the departments have made this year.

Daniela Groza from the Edinburgh College of Art organised a sustainable fashion show and plans to do this event again in 2019.

Shirley Warnock-Lowe, designer in residence at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, was one of the student ambassadors for DJCAD before she graduated in May 2018. Shirley has now been working with the Incorporation on the Pledge by giving talks and demonstrations to students about ethical making she has trialled herself. This has included natural hand dying fibres, making wire from scrap metal, recycling glass for new pieces, how to use substitutes to harsh chemicals for pickles, patinas and rouge, salt water etching, innovative packaging ideas and more. Shirley has inspired many new students to start their own research into ethical making and try new methods.

The student ambassadors have been campaigning for change by distributing information about what ethical making means, encouraging students to collect and recycle metal scrap for reuse and to use alternatives to chemicals. Many of the college workshops have switched their pickling solution to a less harmful, citric acid pickle, some are also now using recycled filament in their 3D printers and some colleges are already offering 100% recycled metals to students.

Edinburgh College of Art students collection of metal scrap for reuse

The department heads, tutors and technicians have been working with the Incorporation on the Pledge from the outset. They have made changes in how they supply materials; workshop practices and they have introduced new projects and briefs that will teach concepts of ethical making such as ‘material matters’ briefs where students engage with the value of materials beyond just the economic value.

We are seeing great change happening in the college’s jewellery departments in Scotland and this is thanks to the enthusiasm and collective effort of the student ambassadors and jewellery department staff.

What’s next?

The Pledge Programme will see new courses and projects in the Scottish colleges in 2019 and further changes in their workshops towards more sustainable and responsible practice. More students are incorporating research of issues in the industry into their dissertations, so we expect to see more of this in the degree shows this year, which will stimulate conversation about these issues beyond college walls. The Incorporation will continue their work with students and staff and support their efforts to increase ethical making practice in the art colleges in Scotland.

Here’s to 2019!

Originally published December 6th 2018 by Emily MacDonald

Ocean Plastics Find New Life In Jewellery

Dr Katharina Vones is turning ocean plastics into a biodegradable material and using it to make new jewellery


In 2017, a whale was euthanised off the West Coast of Scotland. Scientists discovered four kilos of plastic bags in its stomach. The same year, a killer whale named Lulu was found dead on the pristine shores of Tiree. Lulu’s body contained the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls ever recorded.

Did you know that each year between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans? If we continue at the current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Dr Katharina Vones of Edinburgh Napier University is working as part of a team there to address startlingly high levels of pollution by transforming ocean plastics into a new biodegradable material that can be used to make jewellery.

Katharina and her co-investigator Ian Lambert of Edinburgh Napier University had their first ocean plastics scoping expedition to the Isle of Harris in August, as part of her project funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Scottish Universities. They are now using the gathered ocean plastic to create a new material in conjunction with a biodegradable PLA (polylactic acid). The two types of plastic are combined to produce a filament for 3D printing, the uses for which are limited only by the imagination.

Ocean Plastics on Scotlands West CoastPlastics found washed ashore on the Isle of Harris.
Photos taken by Dr Katharina Vones during her plastics scoping expedition this summer.

Katharina, who describes herself as a digital jeweller, also works at the Edinburgh College of Art, and is half-way through an EU funded project as part of the Horizon 2020 WearSustain initiative.

This project focuses on developing interactively playful wearables that can be used in a health and wellbeing context from sustainably produced and smart materials. Her collaborator is electronic engineer Dr Lourdes Alwis, who specialises in sensor development using optical fibres. The resulting convergence of technical and design expertise embraces the narrative of interdisciplinarity that is at the heart of promoting innovation within interactive craft.

Prototypes of the pieces she has developed for the WearSustain initiative, as well as material samples showing her processes from another project she was previously involved in at the Centre for Art and Design Research at Edinburgh Napier University [ “New Processes for Transforming unexploited Textiles into high value Products”, Principal Investigator: Dr Sam Vettese, funded by the SFC Textile Futures Forum ] will be on display at Elements, as part of the Elements Exhibition, Perspectives: Creating Jewellery for a Fairer Future from October 19-21 at Lyon and Turnbull.

Katharina is exploring the potential of these new materials and using them to inspire new works, while also challenging fast fashion and shedding light on societal waste. We encourage you to take the time to see the results of these live research projects at Elements.

Originally published Oct 3rd, 2018 by Emily MacDonald.

A Bespoke Story from Levin Sources

commissioning ethically made jewellery

Jane Barnett of research consultancy firm, Levin Sources, speaks about commissioning ethically made jewellery


I work for Levin Sources which is a research, assurance, and capacity building consultancy that helps its clients integrate social, environmental, and economic sustainability into their mining and minerals operations and supply chains. It is through my work here as Office Manager, that I really learned about Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, and the impacts it can have, and so the story of my ring and earrings evolved.

Owning a piece of bespoke jewellery has always been a dream of mine, and that is a dream shared by many. I was, however, daunted by the reality of this. The potential cost alone was enough for me to keep this dream at just that, a fantasy, and nothing more. But it can be something more. I recently discovered that I was wrong to be quite so daunted by this process.

Harriet Kelsall, Fairtrade White Gold Ring with pink and blue sapphires


The stones in both the ring and earrings are all sapphires from Nineteen48 in Sri Lanka. I was incredibly privileged to be able to spend the day with Stuart and his team, visiting mine sites and witnessing the transformation of rough sapphires into beautiful gemstones, pictured below, by expert cutters.

Orange Sapphire supplied by Nineteen48Blue Sapphire supplied by Nineteen48

I then visited Hariett Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery and Amanda Li Hope at their respective studios at Halls Green and Hatton Garden. We talked about designs, and thought through the setting of the stones to truly profit from their shapes. We consequently arrived at these beautiful designs.


Amanda Li Hope, Cartesian Drop Earrings, Fairtrade Silver and Gold with orange sapphires


It was important to me that I matched my ethical gemstones with gold and silver that supported artisanal and small-scale miners. This way I could say that I knew the source of the entire ring; not just the stone.

This is jewellery that I am proud to wear, lucky to own, and grateful to have had created for me, and only me. This isn’t mass-produced, sitting-on-a-shelf, who-knows-where-it-came-from jewellery.

“This is bespoke and ethical and ultimately priceless.”

– Jane Barnett

Originally published on September 28th, by Emily MacDonald

Elements 4 Exhibition

creating jewellery for a fairer future

An exhibition about fair making practices at Elements


Elements: A Festival of Jewellery, Silver & Gold is produced by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths in partnership with fine auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull. Each year, an exhibition is displayed at Elements to complement the selling fair and events programme. The 2018 exhibition, Perspectives: Creating Jewellery for a Fairer Future, has been curated by Fair Luxury and the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, and will be on view for the duration of Elements.

Featuring a range of works that consider the concept of fair making, the exhibition will cast a fresh light on what terms such as ethical luxury can mean and the ways in which we can create jewellery for a fairer future.

Eileen Gatt, Eco Balance Bowls


Perspectives aims to raise awareness of issues in the metal, stone and jewellery industries, such as unfair working practices, environmental damage and health and safety risks. Exploring the sourcing of raw materials and highlighting a range of approaches to fairly made jewellery, such as the provenance of metals and stones; the conditions in which makers and miners work; and the environmental and social impact of creating the finished piece. Perspectives will give viewers a detailed picture of what ethical making can look like and the possibilities it opens for both makers and buyers of jewellery and silver.

Sandra Wilson, Gold Chloride Bowl


There will be nine sections in the exhibition, each representing a different way to engage with the topic of fair making. The exhibition will feature works made in Fairtrade, Fairmined and Recycled precious metals, as well as works that represent responsible sourcing of precious gemstones. Visitors will also be able to view work made with alternative materials such as repurposed rubber, plastics, and textiles.

The work of Dr Sandra Wilson and her research team from the Love Chemistry Lab at the University of Edinburgh around the possibilities of extracting gold from electronic waste will be showcased as well as the research by Dr Katharina Vones which examines how waste materials can be used to create a new filament for 3D printing.

Perspectives will be on display at the Elements Festival from Oct 19-21, 2018.

Read more about Elements here.

Originally published on October 3rd, 2018 by Emily MacDonald