East Fourth Street.

Meet the jeweller who helped bring fairmined gold into the U.S. for the first time.

"The global awareness around the ethical treatment of textile workers in the fashion world runs parallel to what is going on with workers in the mining industry and the production of jewellry," East Fourth Street founder Susan Crow says.

"I have to know the back-story of my materials, I try to trace all of my materials from mine to market."

And that can be a long way in the jewellery industry.

East Fourth Street rings, handmade using recycled
& fairmined metals. Image via Gem Gossip

"I vet my gemstone and diamond vendors to insure that they know where the gemstones are from and if they were mined and cut ethically – not at the expense of another person’s human rights."

Susan started her East Fourth Street brand in 2010 after graduating in Design, working as a metalsmith and in the consumer home industry, and finally studying Sustainable Design.

Always curious to find out more, Susan was never going to settle for a head-in-the-sand approach when it came to the industries that feed into jewellery-making.

East Fourth Street Lotus Hoop Earrings, handmade using
recycled sterling silver

"As a kid I was always making stuff, trying to figure out how things worked. Looking back, I probably would have loved engineering," Susan says.

"I grew up on an East Fourth Street and have vivid memories of creating all sorts of stuff in the basement or all over the dinning room table."

Her Sustainable Design studies solidified Susan's quest to change how and what she was designing.

"Working as a designer in the consumer home industry, I was exposed to overseas factory manufacturing and realised I was hungry to find a different path that focused on ethical and environmental stability.

Susan's designs are influenced by nature.
Image via East Fourth Street

"When I went back to school for Sustainable Design I was excited to find a program that could teach me about closed-loop manufacturing, zero waste, ethical marketing and lifecycle analysis."

Two years after launching East Fourth Street, Susan joined Ethical Metalsmiths, an organisation dedicated to activating jewellers to support change that leads to responsible mining and supply chain transparency.

And here is proof the power of a small passionate group can really make a difference.

"In 2013 we created an Ethical Sourcing Consortium, a handful of U.S. jewellers that supported specific gold mine communities in South America," Susan explains.

"Our little group of 23 U.S. jewellers had to become licensed by The Alliance for Responsible Mining to sell their fairmined gold which supports the miners, their families and their communities.

"We successfully brought fairmined gold into the U.S. for the first time."

All the metals Susan uses in her designs are either recycled or fairmined.

Jeweller Susan Crow helped bring fairmined gold to the U.S.
Image via East Fourth Street

Her ethos also means she avoids certain processes in the making of jewellery because of the toxicity to the environment.

"The jewellery industry has one of the highest environmental and ethical footprints of products because of mining and the high toxicity of the process," Susan says.

"While working as a consumer goods product designer, I visited factories manufacturing fashion jewellery - witnessing these facilities first-hand helped me realise that it’s important to know where the product you are buying comes from and who is making it."

A collection of East Fourth Street sustainable, handmade jewellery.
Image via East Fourth Street

Susan's designs are also, of course, influenced by her commitment to sustainability.

"I grew up in Minnesota with strong northern connections of Scandinavian design and culture where being stewards of the earth was expected," Susan says.

"The minimalistic, clean lines of Danish design as well as the textures and shapes of nature continue to influence my lifestyle and design.

"I hope I can keep making things out of gorgeous natural resources that are responsibly sourced for as long as possible."

And so do I!

-  Ash 

Susan Crow, the maker behind East Fourth Street.
Image via Make It Minnesota


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