‘Sustainability’ for Chicory Chai translates through choices we make in various areas : production, sourcing, packaging and collaborations.
Philosophy of ‘Recycle, Repurpose, Revive and Restore’
We work with antique jewellery that needs attention, either due to old age or a missing link… literally. Either way, heirloom pieces carry incomparable old-world artistry and skill that is irreplaceable and it is of utmost importance that we preserve them. We design with or around an antique piece, always keeping in mind it’s innateness. We ensure that the original piece retains it’s essence and do not dismantle it, as far as possible. We also use antique coins and medallions to create timeless pieces.
Methods of production
Chicory Chai jewellery is 100% handcrafted as opposed to hand-assembling smaller elements that are industrially procured. We create one piece at a time, in non assembly-line manner. No casting, no computer aided design, no laser cutting, none of these or any other industrial techniques of mass production. Our craftsmen use only hand tools to create jewelry; therefore, each piece will be slightly different from another, even if it’s the same design. The final outcome depends on the artisans temperament, his mental wellbeing, nature of tools, alloying of raw material and creative liberty he imparts to the piece.
Promotion of traditional techniques of metal smithing
We collaborate with various artisans who specialise in single metal technique like repoussé and chasing, fretting, forming, etc. These artisans have trained themselves for 3 to 5 years before they have started out professionally. We work with them, ensuring steady work flow, keeping the traditional art form alive, one order at a time.
Procurement of raw material
The base metal of brass that we use is recycled. Our brass is specially lab-tested to ensure it is free of Nickel and Lead and hence safe for use in jewelry, and therefore, on skin. Our starting point is always the non-galvanised sheets or wires made from discarded brass scrap. Surely there is a certain harm to the environment in the melting of it but it's much less than the one caused by mining of earth by digging for ores.
Policy of ‘limited production’
Because we follow 'made-to-order' system, we do not maintain any stock. We do not promote impulse purchases or occasion driven wear. We make meaningful pieces that the consumer has made a connection with. We have no sales or discounts. That's how we encourage conscious consumerism.
Packaging created from waste
The pouches in which jewelry is stored are made of handlooms or Khaadi. Long distance packaging is recycled from e-commerce waste, that has infested the environment, especially through the Covid times.
Authenticity of metals
We respect every material for what is it and retain its identity as is. That is the reason we do not electroplate our products (made in brass) with any other precious metals like silver or gold. (What we also like to question every now and then is, why gold is more precious than brass in our psyche.) This also reduces chemical waste from industrial processes to zero. Electroplating process releases harmful chemical toxins, which we condemn.
Our approach towards ‘beauty’
Footprint of numerous handcrafted processes in making of a piece, gives it an array of unique aesthetics. The raw edges, marks, solders and dents are our signature and absolute guarantee of the jewelry being handcrafted. For us, these are anything but ‘imperfections’, especially as we question the general norms of beauty.
Controlled consumption of bio-energy
We do not use any power run tools or machines, besides buffing machine. Hence use of electricity is minimal. The only bio-fuel we use is during procurement of raw material and delivery to the customer.
Minimal chemical waste
We do not give acid wash to our jewelry. We have created a special in-house bio-enzyme* (find recipe below) from fermentation of organic waste that cleans up any surface residue and patina created due to heat. Therefore we do not release any acids or chemicals in the environment. Minimal semi-toxic fumes get released during soldering of metals.
Jaggery (Gud) or Black Strap Molasses – 1 portion
Citrus peels - 3 portions (Orange, Sweet lime, Lemon)
Water - 10 portions
1:3:10 ratio of Jaggery: Citrus peels: water
Add everything together.
Ferment for three months in anaerobic conditions.
For subsequent batches, use a spoon of old enzyme as 'starter' to expedite the process in one month.
Mix bio-enzyme & water in 1:1 proportion and dip your jewelry in it for 2 mins. Remove, wash with water and pat dry with soft cotton fabric. Viola!