Vanity Fair - UK August Print Edition
The Gold Standard - Thesis Gems & Jewelry is an opportunity for art and culture to define a better relationship to human and environmental systems, while creating meaningful talismans that will last a lifetime. Each piece is crafted to be an heirloom, and only the finest, ethically sourced gems and pearls are used.
Driven by personal values, jewelry designer Catherine Claus insists on knowing the full story behind all of the gems and metals she uses – and she won’t have it any other way.
Her elegant creations celebrate both local craftsmanship and the true beauty that comes from gems that are ethically sourced in every way.
Not everyone is completely enamored by diamonds for engagement rings, no matter how culturally ingrained it is to wear one. But the reality is, not all stones actually work for a ring you’ll wear day in and day out for the rest of your life. Here’s how you can pick a ring that will last through the good and bad without turning to the hardest rock of all.
Thesis Gems gives a more involved run down for how to consider the ethics of your stone, pointing out that mining can never be truly sustainable, because these sorts of minerals are a limited resource. But the impact that mining has on the environment can be tracked, if you know a bit more about best practices.
From the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Thesis Gems is the epitome of modern luxury: mine-to-market and transparent, crafting stylish pieces for all occasions. Women-owned, this artisan brand sources pearls, diamonds, rubies and more with the utmost respect for their source - with fashion-forward results.
[Thesis] thinks daily about ways to support ecological conservation and fair labor mining processes in the sourcing of the gems they use in their heirloom jewelry. In addition to being a member for 1% for the Planet which supports California Waterways where Thesis Gems is based, they are constantly looking to establish relationships with conservation and restoration organizations in the countries from which the gems originate.
31 designers (hailing from destinations as far as Osaka, Japan and as close as Downtown New York) were selected to compete from a broader field. They had a chance to present a selection of their work to the panel of industry leaders and experts, all dedicated to identifying and nurturing emerging talent in a "science fair" format. The judges included Marla Aaron, founder of Marla Aaron; Beth Bugdaycay, founder of Foundrae; Elana Zadjman, Accessories Editor at InStyle; Jodi Kaplan, Vice President of Non-Apparel at Moda Operandi; David Unich, Manager at Rainbowwave Showroom; Avani Patel, founder of Trendseeder; and Joanne Teichman, founder of Ylang 23.
Eco Warrior Princess
Curious about the lack of gemstone traceability, and general lack of transparency that can be a slippery slope towards corruption within the jewelry industry, pediatrician and amateur gemology aficionado Cate Claus launched fine jewelry brand Thesis Gems & Jewelry. Turning her own frustrating customer experience into something positive, her business is driven by a simple mission: to offer clients guilt-free heirloom jewelry made from responsibly-sourced gemstones and minerals that empowers people and minimizes harm to the planet.
Some reading this may be thinking Thesis Gems & Jewelry is undertaking a Mission Impossible journey. To row against the current in an industry rife with corruption and environmental destruction may seem unsurmountable to a small ethical label. But big waves of change have to start somewhere. We need more Cates willing to throw stones and create ripples.
It's the time of year when we begin celebrating the arrival of warmer and sunnier days with spring break. It's also a good time to celebrate with green gemstones, like tsavorite garnet. If you don't know what tsavorite garnet is, then you're in for a treat!
Founded by designer Cate Claus, Thesis Gems not only showcases the vibrant green garnet, tsavorite in her jewelry lines, but enlists green practices in her jewelry production, taking care to use gems and materials that have been ethically sourced. With an organic, but elegant feel, Thesis Gems collection sets vibrant gems in 18kt yellow gold.
Claus, a local pediatrician, is an amateur gemology aficionado and collector."Having been scammed too many times, I grew frustrated with the flagrant corruption in gems and jewelry and decided to create a higher standard,"" she said. To maintain a better value for customers, she has no plans to open a brick-and-mortar store. Her collection, comprised exclusively of jewelry made by artisans from Berkeley and San Francisco, is available on her website and at Zaver and Mor in North Berkeley.
A resident of Berkeley for eight years, Claus said, "I think Berkeley has an incredible wealth of artisans with true understanding of craftsmanship."
Life + Style + Justice
I've posted about ethically made everyday jewelry before, but fine jewelry isn't a topic I often delve into here on Life+Style+Justice. I haven't done all that much research on the ethical issues behind precious metals and gem sourcing, and don't feel particularly educated to speak with authority on what to look for, what to invest in, and what's "fair" regarding pricing for the consumer. I'm happy to bring you this inaugural post on ethically made heirloom jewelry in collaboration with Thesis Gems and Jewelry- a woman-owned company that operates from a belief that "people and the environment are more valuable than any gem". Owner Cate has loved gems and minerals since she was a rock-collecting child, which I love since I, too, had a expansive rock collection containing lots of fools' gold and even a few prized fossils that I collected on a fossil dig during a summer family camp.
Cate wasn't phased at all by the questions I asked her about the sourcing of the materials used in Thesis Gems' designs. She was very transparent with me about the fact that it's difficult to be entirely certain of the transparency of certain gemstones, which I really appreciate! Cate is taking every step possible, and asking all the right questions, to ensure that she knows as much as possible about the origins of the stones she uses.
My favorite pieces from Cate's collection are the gold pebble pieces. I think that they are so unique and creative, as I haven't seen much fine jewelry that incorporates non-precious rocks.
The trade of unethical diamonds and gemstones is something that the jewellery industry has become increasingly concerned with in recent years. The film release of Blood Diamond in 2006 put the issue into the forefront, leading businesses to readdress their ethical approach following the uproar from celebrities and industry leaders alike calling for the international governments to take notice.
However, as the spotlight starts to fade, it is important that the subject remains a high profile one. The fact that unsustainable mining still exists today is because there is a demand for it; change only happens when the diamond and gemstone trade are effectively challenged. For example, over a quarter of rough cut diamonds in circulation are being processed as blood diamonds. A ground-breaking report back in 1998 was one of the first to call out the issues of the trade; exposing the role of diamonds funding war in Angola. Since then, the launch of the Kimberly Process has made the most significant steps towards battling the issues surrounding the entire diamond and gemstone trade.
Thesis is a gem and jewellery company standing in the light side of the gem trade, where transparency in transactions is championed. I spoke to Cate Claus, owner of Thesis, about the industry, Thesis and the future for her and the company.
Why to buy: Thesis Gems and Jewelry is made for women to claim themselves. Most of the pieces are customizable. We can draw our own pattern in ultra brilliant micro-pave diamonds on a ring, or create a talisman from the Coat of Arms pendants. The gems are of investment quality, and the gold is substantial and high karat.
What we love: Each gem is scrupulously sourced. Cate Claus, the founder of Thesis Gems and Jewelry, always ask questions about sustainability, fair labor, traceability. To her, people, communities and the environment are more important than any gem. She sources only 6 gems: diamonds, pearls, sapphires, opals, tsavorites and rubies. The diamonds are Canadian and re-cut pre-1940's antiques to minimize the carbon footprint. Her sapphire source will gladly tell you which river the gems came from in Sri Lanka- where alluvial mining is used to minimize the impact on the environment. Thesis Gems and Jewelry pearls are from small, beautiful productions in both the Gulf and California and Japan that in fact restore the marine habitat. Furthermore, Thesis G&J is a member of 1% for the planet, giving 1% of gross sales to fight for a cleaner, more resilient planet.