Inhorgenta Munich 2020: International Tradeshow Introduces Sustainability Programme

The Incorporation’s Director, Ebba Goring and Ethical Programme Officer, Emily MacDonald attended Inhorgenta in Munich last month to view the fairs new sustainability programme of events. This was a great opportunity to research international progress on ethical making and sustainability in the jewellery sector.

Entrance hall of Inhorgenta Munich. Image: Messe Munchen

Inhorgenta is the largest trade fair for jewellers in Europe and is held annually in Munich. It hosts hundreds of independent makers and large brands selling their work on wholesale, suppliers to the jewellery trade including stone dealers, packaging and display suppliers, technology specialists and service providers. In addition to the fair stands there is an exhibition and programme of events including a seminar programme. This year for the first time, the exhibition and talks focussed on sustainability and issues existing in jewellery supply chains.

Another great addition to the event was the British Pavilion, showcasing makers from around the UK including Scotland’s own Heather McDermott.

The CEO of Messe München, where Inhorgenta is held, Klaus Dittrich said of the event, “Inhorgenta Munich is constantly growing. Sustainability and future retail are topics that concern the entire jewelry industry… We want to make our mark and be a catalyst for moving these issues forward.”

Image: Messe Munchen

We were most excited for the sustainability seminar programme which included talks on ethical sourcing, gold, diamond and gemstone supply chains, using technology to drive sustainability, the power of the sustainability narrative in branding, pearl farming in the pacific islands and community development, climate change impacts on supply chains and pearl farming as a method for sustainable development. The sustainability exhibition at Inhorgenta was about pearl farming, paired with an exhibition about the future of jewellery retail and incorporating new media forms into the customer experience. Through a variety of virtual media forms, the sustainability exhibition demonstrated how pearls are cultivated and what sustainable pearl farming looks like.

Inhorgenta 2020 Exhibitions, “Future of Retail” and “Sustainability”. Image: Messe Munchen
Virtual book telling the story of sustainable culture pearl farming at the Inhorgenta Sustainability exhibition.

We attended as many talks as we could fit into each day! Our favourite talks were from Dr. Laurent Cartier from the Swiss Gemmological Institute. Laurent is a researcher who explores sustainability in pearl farming and he co-founded the Sustainable Pearls Initiative and the Gemstones and Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub. His talk was about the  processes involved in cultured pearl farming and how if done sustainably, this process can not only promote community development and island economies but can also be used as a method to increase marine biodiversity. Pearl farming, he argued, can be used to promote many of the UN sustainable development goals including goal 1: no poverty, goal 2: zero hunger, goal 8: decent work and economic growth, goal 12: responsible consumption and production, goal 13: climate action and goal 14: life below water. Laurent’s talk highlighted how sustainably sourcing materials can enact positive change in the world.

You can read more about sustainable pearl farming on the UN Sustainable Development Goals Partnership Platform here.

Setting of the seminar programme. Image: Messe Munchen

Another engaging talk was given by Ryan Taylor, chief officer of tech start-up Consensas, about how technology and data collection can be used in gold supply chains from conflict affected regions to increase transparency. Ryan Taylor was behind the Fair Trade Jewellery Co. for years, the first jewellery business in North America to offer Fairtrade Gold and so he has a career of knowledge in the complexities of gold supply chains. He is now the chief officer of Consensas, a software that manages data on due diligence and risk in complex value chains, like that of artisanal and small-scale mined gold from conflict affected regions. With big plans for the jewellery industry and beyond, Consensus is an exciting space to watch for developments in ethical sourcing of raw materials and in proving traceability in supply chains. 

We also heard our friend Conny Havel from Fairmined speak about the benefits of bringing Fairmined metal into your jewellery business. It was great to hear from jewellers in the audience about their positive experiences of being able to offer Fairmined metal to their clients.

Conny Havel from Fairmined speaking to attendees at Inhorgenta. Image: Messe Munchen

Between the talks we also visited some of the hundreds of supplier stands to scope out new suppliers for our ethical making resource. Among the suppliers we got to meet at the fair was Copenhagen based pearl supplier Marc’ Harit who provide a large variety of pearl types with direct knowledge of many of the pearl farms they source from and Munich based gemstone dealer Ceylons, providing sapphires from Sri Lanka where they share ownership of mines and have close relationships with their Sri Lankan partners. We also spoke with Copenhagen based gemstone supplier Wennick-Lefevre who supply stones from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Burma, they also remain close with their suppliers and stones cutters. Another company present who we did not have the opportunity to meet, was the Antwerp based lab grown diamond suppliers, Madestones.

It was a pleasure to speak with suppliers from different countries who share the passion for promoting fair and responsible practices in the industry.

Image: Messe Munchen

Inhorgenta was a whirlwind of jewels, design, and innovation. It was incredible to witness progress in the field of sustainable and ethical making at such a large scale international trade event. We hope future years at Inhorgenta continue to promote this work and that the message spreads to all exhibitors and attendees.

The Incorporation believes that ethical making isn’t about trying to fix everything all at once but about uniting the industry to increase awareness and practice transparency throughout supply chains. We would like to thank the organisers of Inhorgenta for shedding light on these issues and committing to raising awareness.

For more information about Inhorgenta Munich:



To purchase sustainable pearls:

Marc Harit Pearls from around the world

J. Hunter Fiji Pearls from Fiji

Sea of Cortez Pearls from Mexico

Kamoka Pearls from Tahiti

Interested in sustainability and ethical making in the jewellery industry?
Continue to browse our content on the Incorporation of Goldsmiths’ Ethical Making Resource.

Elements Exhibition

Perspectives: Creating Jewellery for a Fairer Future

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