Ethics & Sustainability

advantages


  • 100% usa mined inlay

    Our inlay stones are sourced in their raw and original forms, sourced from miners around America who love what they do. This ensures the most fair mining practices, and very importantly, that zero child labor or the funding of conflicts were involved during the collection of our stones.

  • Recycled diamonds

    Starting in 2022 all of our round melee stones are post-consumer sourced, meaning that zero new energy was required to source these stones. Reclaimed stones are the most eco-friendly choice possible and we are proud to be making this big change.

  • Miner direct sapphires

    Our close and continued relationships with American miners allow us to source your important center stone directly from small family operations in Western Montana. We seek out sapphires faceted in the USA whenever possible, meaning your stone never leaves the country and is only touched by the miner, the cutter and us.

  • Handmade by artists

    We believe that the handmade details in our work are what make it so special. Our hands are human not robotic, they are our most precious tool and we believe the intricacies of handmade work should be valued and adored.

  • Responsibly sourced

    Respect for nature and the honor and care of our planet is a pillar of YITM. We vow to make the most ethical decisions we can in all of our sourcing.This involves constantly educating ourselves in what is available and eliminating what is no longer sustainable.

  • Love equality

    We believe In the unequivocal equal rights of all people to love who they want & to be loved exactly as they are.

  • Recycled metals

    We proudly source recycled metals whenever possible. Recycled gold and silver reclaimed from electronics and other post consumer sources. in 2022 we are adding FairTrade Gold into our offerings.

  • Woman owned

    Years of independent fascination & creation of jewelry by founder Mariele Ivy has now blossomed into a shared creative exploration within this special medium. We are now a team of 8 creative people using our collective skills and artistic talents to create for you!

  • 100% wind powered

    Our Denver studio is 100% powered by wind energy. WindSource by Excel Energy was an easy, inexpensive way to make a difference. We encourage everyone to see if your local energy provider offers renewable energy options like this.

We source the best

YITM’s “Best Of The Best” award marks jewelry pieces that meet ethical and sustainable best practices. We aim for each of our pieces to meet at least one “Best Of The Best” requirement. Inside each product listing, you will see the graphics below to tell you visually how many of the goals are being met!

Miner direct stones

Featuring 100% American mined stones sourced directly from Montana, insuring fair mining practices & zero child labor.

Recycled diamonds

Featuring post consumer sourced melee stones, meaning zero new energy is required to source these stones. Reclaimed stones are the most eco-friendly choice available on the market.

Recycled gold

Made with gold sourced from the photography and jewelry industries. Since gold can be infinitely recycled, it can be used again and again. This means so new mining is needed to source gold for our jewelry.

Fairtrade gold

This gold is newly mined but from a known origin. The standards for workers involve ethics and safety. This is the best gold, as it helps solve a problem, not just avoid it.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We are committed to creating the highest quality jewelry, in the most responsible way.

A Note From the Founder...

I proudly present our very first sustainability report and I view it as a baseline to better understand what we have done, and where we can grow from here. Our education into the environmental effects of mining taught us that we are responsible for what happens in YITM’s name at every step of the supply chain. While sustainability has been a core principle to my practice since I founded YITM over 10 years ago, 2022 is the year we set bigger goals and share them publicly. In doing so we hope for accountability and celebration with our community and clients.

We are more than a jewelry company, we are a celebration company that stands for a larger purpose. We understand the trust given to us to represent life's occasions with jewelry is not given lightly. This unique responsibility should be honored and the utmost care shown to not only the client, but the environment. We are proud to be chosen by a new generation of jewelry collectors who desire not only unique handcrafted jewelry but pieces that honor the environment in addition to their milestones. We are grateful for the uncompromising conscience and the encouragement of our clients. It encourages us year after year to pursue higher and more clear standards of ethics and excellence. This report is for you!

Cheers!


Introduction

Young in the Mountains was founded on the idea that being an artist isn’t about the work you produce, but the way that you live your life. Founder Mariele Ivy grew up appreciating and learning from outdoor spaces and exploring and creating art inspired by her surroundings. As the company has grown we have worked hard to ensure that every part of our art, work process, and jewelry is reflective of those core values. Because of these experiences connecting with the natural world and the great appreciation we have for these spaces, we as a company recognize that it is incredibly important to have a better understanding of our performance in relation to the natural world.

Historical Implications

We understand that sustainability is more than the materials that we use and the environmental impact they have or the amount of CO2 that we produce.

Sustainability is about how we as a company have grown, what it has taken for us to get here, and what that means for other groups of people. Young in the Mountains recognizes and acknowledges that we live and work on Traditional Territory of Arapaho, Cheyenne, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), and Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute).

YITM’s current studio and storefront are located in Downtown Denver, in a neighborhood that is now called RiNo (River North) but was traditionally known as Five Points. This area of Denver is considered to be “up and coming” with significant growth in the past few years. However, that growth can largely be attributed to gentrification and the erasure of a historical place. Five Points was historically the center of the Black community in Denver, famously referred to as “the Harlem of the West”. In the 1920s through the 40s, Five Points was filled with predominantly black-owned homes and businesses. Many people ended up in Five Points because Denver was so heavily redlined* in the 1900s that they had nowhere else to go. After finding somewhere to be their home, they were forcefully pushed out in the past few decades as prices became astronomically high.

Today, almost all businesses and homes, including ours, are owned and operated by white individuals. The Historic Harlem of the West is gone. Denver has consistently ranked in the top 5 most gentrified cities in the United States. The Urban Displacement Project considers Five Points to be in a stage of “Advanced Gentrification” with surrounding areas receiving similar ratings. While gentrification is an oftentimes difficult subject, we as a company recognize that it is important to understand the historical implications of our location and its importance to our ability to plant the roots for a successful business.

It is our hope that by having a better understanding of how we got here, we can move forward as a business in a way that respects and honors these findings. It is important that we understand our history, as it is the only way to learn from it. Gentrification is a growing issue in the United States that will only become more and more intense as the implications of climate change are exacerbated. We need to be prepared to ensure that we are moving in the right direction as a company, and not engaging in harmful practices within our community while ensuring we are supporting those that have been displaced the best we can. We believe that sustainability expands beyond our environmental impact; it is the impact that we leave behind on the world in any capacity.

History of Jewelry

The jewelry industry has made massive efforts in the last two decades to transition away from the harmful practices that were once commonplace within the industry. There are many industries that can probably learn from the efforts that have been made in large by the industry into their own practices. At YITM, we have worked hard to keep up with advancements and evolve with the ever-changing research and discoveries that are being made. As a company, we pride ourselves on using ethically sourced diamonds, recycled 14K gold, and US Mined Inlay stones.

We believe it is imperative that we continue best practices in regard to ensuring that the story behind your piece is equally as beautiful as the piece itself.

Responsible Sourcing

Traditional jewelers are weighed down by complex and opaque supply chains, making it difficult if not impossible to trace the origins of diamonds, gemstones and precious metals. Our Vertical integration model, small scale and dedication to American Mined materials allows us unparalleled opportunity to make decisions about supply with high regard to integrity.

Our commitment to ethical jewelry begins with sourcing high quality raw materials and continues through to our studio where the jewelry is hand crafted.

Our unique vertical integration model allows us to incorporate environmental and social integrity at every step of the process. We are proud to work closely with American miners for all of our inlay stones and Montana sapphires. As we learn daily about new sustainability practices we evolve our systems to incorporate the newest technologies and materials. We understand we are responsible for what happens in our name at every step of the supply process. Young In The Mountains strives to be the most ethical jewelry company through our unparalleled creativity in design and integrity in our studio practices.

  • Diamonds

    Diamonds are historically one of the most unethical and controversial aspects of jewelry and many people express concerns about the ethics and impacts surrounding them today. Historically, diamond extraction and mining are incredibly dangerous and can destroy the land around a mining site. On average, between 88,000 and 176,000 pounds of dirt must be sifted through to find a single one-carat diamond. The mining stage is also where exploitation can occur, and the working conditions are historically dangerous and unethical. Frequently, forests need to be burned or cut down in order to even access the mining sites, adding to the long list of environmental implications.

    Historically, there was the circulation of “blood diamonds”, which are diamonds produced in war zones to finance civil wars and in some cases genocide. The jewelry industry has made massive strides in recent decades to ensure that these practices are never allowed or funded, and have by and large been successful.

    The jewelry industry is at the forefront of becoming a leading example of how old-age practices can be discarded and rewritten without any effects on quality or dishonesty. In 2003 the Kimberly Process was created in order to track each diamond and understand its origin.

    All of the diamonds that we source are 100% conflict-free by the Kimberly accord. We acknowledge that the Kimberly certification has a limited definition of conflict. We do not advertise “conflict free” diamonds to further educate our clients that the Kimberly Certification is not specific enough in regards to evolving conflicts to allow us to make that claim.

    In 2021 we began efforts to start using reclaimed diamonds. These genuine diamonds are terrestrial in origin but require zero new mining or energy to produce. As a company, integrity and honesty within our work is imperative, and one that will not be compromised. We pride ourselves on our work and we look forward to evolving along with the jewelry industry and making continuous efforts towards lowering environmental degradation and impact.

  • Gold

    Mining in gold is by and large one of the most destructive industries in the entire world. Not only does it cause immense environmental degradation but it also frequently impacts and displaces families and communities, contaminates drinking water, and endangers unique ecosystems. Just like with most modern-day solutions, there are still issues with recycled gold. Without knowing the origin of the gold we purchase we are unable to affect positive change. Our newest material, Fairmined Gold gold is certifiably sourced from small-scale mining organizations that are actively embracing responsible business, social, and environmental practices. It is newly-mined gold that directly supports local mining communities. By leveraging the purchasing power of the jewelry industry to improve the mining industry, we will have a greater positive impact on mining communities and our planet.

  • Inlay stones

    We are pioneers in championing the use of American Mined inlay stones. Since 2017 we have been exclusively using material mined in the USA and miner direct whenever possible..  The majority of inlay artists source beautiful but often conflicting stones from countries like Afghanistan and the Congo. Lapis Lazuli and Malachite, the two most popular inlay stones in jewelry,  are stunning in color but have dark and deadly history. We strive to educate our audience to ask not only about the origin of valuable center stones but every material involved in the jewelry-making process. By sourcing from American miners exclusively we can rely on the strict standards of workplace safety, child labor, and environmental protection laws that the United States Of America ensures. 

  • Cutting center

    Lots of attention is put on the origin of gemstones but many forget that the stone does not emerge fully finished and ready for jewelry setting. Cutting and faceting of the rough gemstone can be a very dangerous environment. We have a direct connection to the cutting center that facets the majority of our Montana Sapphires. We look to source cut in USA Montana sapphires whenever possible so that the gemstone never leaves the country.

Integrity Matters

Our hands are our most precious tool and we believe the intricacies of handmade work should be valued and adored. Every care is taken to make sure the jewelry we create for you is the best we are able. We pride ourselves on the integrity, originality, and beauty of our jewelry & our process.

Workplace Efforts

This year we made conscious efforts to improve both our carbon footprint as well as implemented changes to improve employee well-being. By generating this sustainability report we are focusing in on where we have made efforts and where there are still holes so that we can work to address those in 2022.Some efforts we made this year include:


  • Wind-powered energy

    Transition to 100% wind-powered energy. if you receive energy through Excel Energy this is incredibly easy to do and we encourage everyone to do so!

  • Reusable materials

    We have made small changes, such as switching to all refillable soaps and cleaning products in our staff kitchen. We reuse all our plastic jewelry bags in the studio and have not branded our jewelry boxes on purpose so that our clients can use them to gift old jewelry.

  • Led lightbulbs

    We utilize led lightbulbs in the entirety of our store to ensure the lowest amount of energy waste possible, and we turn off all lights when we close up for the day.

  • Employee benefits

    We are able to provide each full-time YITM employee with paid time off, paid health & dental insurance, disability insurance, paid maternity leave, and a matching retirement account.

  • Garden access

    Our employees have access to an upstairs garden where they can eat their lunch, garden, and spend time peaceful time with nature each day. We understand the importance of connecting to nature and this area allows that prioritization to be easy.

Giving Back

We are very honored that we have been able to utilize that platform to give back to organizations that represent the ideals that represent us.

We make monetary donations monthly to the following organizations:

  • ACLU
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • The Blue Bench
  • Every Town
  • East Africa Fund
  • Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Inclusive Customer Experience

Our website is gender neutral with no delineation between gender specific styles. Instead we suggest pieces based on their description or on the desired look. We know better then to guess relationship status and to not assume heteronormative ideas of a couple. We make our stance clear with a welcoming, artisanal made ceramic, “No Hate” sign posted at the engagement counter. There will be no body shaming, no racism, no sexism, etc.

Read Our Full Report

Download our full Corporate Social Responsibilty report to learn more about Young In The Mountain’s commitment to sustainability, equity, & inclusion.

Download our full report