What do we imagine when we hear the words "Made in Japan"?
Good quality, reliability of materials, or sophisticated design.
Why is R ethical so particular about "Made in Japan" and what kind of thoughts do they have in delivering jewelry to their customers? We would like to share with you some of the stories behind our jewelry making.
■ Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, the center of Japanese jewelry making, and the decline in the number of craftsmen
Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture is famous for its delicious grapes and pears.
Half of R ethical's jewelry is made in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture.
(The remaining half are craftsmen from Tokyo.)
Did you know that over 30% of the products sold in the Japanese jewelry market are produced in Kofu City?
It all began in the Edo period, when crystals were mined in Kofu City, and the craftsmen who polished them and made them into accessories (hairpins, netsuke, obidome) began to grow.
During the Taisho period, people began making decorative products such as gold rings for the first time in place of crystal ornaments, and from then on, precious metal craft techniques seem to have flourished.
The size of the domestic jewelry retail market reached its peak in 1991, when it exceeded 3 trillion yen, but it has been in a long-term slump since then, and has now declined to less than 1 trillion yen.
Inevitably, as the size of the market became smaller and cheaper overseas production became mainstream, the number of craftsmen continued to decrease, and we began to hear voices saying that it was difficult for traditional techniques to be inherited. .
■Traditional techniques are inherited and craftsmen make jewelry that they can be proud of.
R ethical relies on craftsmen from Yamanashi and Tokyo to create the products. We have both men and women, from young people to veterans.
Making jewelry and polishing stones is a series of very simple and delicate processes. It is said that the splashing of the polishing material can sometimes turn your face and hands blue as you continue polishing. In addition, because the work is very detailed and micro-level, requiring strain on the eyes, it is said that it is very difficult to remain active as a craftsman for a long time, even as one gets older.
I often hear from craftsmen who were forced to quit their jobs due to the economic downturn, and I hear that some skills are declining because it is difficult to train the next generation. In fact, there have been many times when I have asked someone to make jewelry that was made in the past, only to be turned down because the polisher is no longer available.
As the name suggests, R ethical is a jewelry brand centered on ethical activities. In the material procurement process, including the handling of Fairmined certified gold, in addition to giving maximum consideration from an ethical perspective, we also ensure that the people who make our products are paid a fair price, and that they can be proud of their work. We also believe that it is very important that traditional techniques are passed down.
◼︎From speedy and large quantities to slow and unique world
There is a fundamental principle in all businesses: ``By maximizing profits and reducing costs, and by investing the profits in between, we create new value.''
A business model, typified by fast fashion, that sells sophisticated designs in large quantities quickly. Deliver more products to more people, more quickly, and more. To achieve this, we moved our production base overseas, using the same operations to prepare products of the same quality using a stable process. This may be an important element for survival as a global business.
On the other hand, we believe that the ``manufacturing of handmade jewelry'' that R ethical aims for is the opposite of such a business model. When we create custom-made or bridal jewelry, we select materials, diamonds, and natural stones that will make the customer's heart skip a beat, and listen to the voice of each stone, as if having a dialogue with them. . Then, we will accept orders for your favorite settings. Our craftsmen carefully craft this ``one-of-a-kind order'' into shape.
We change the degree, frequency, and depth of the ring's hammering, and we also make small changes to the specifications of the final finish. Fastening method, length, texture. By repeating the detailed work process in a rational manner, you will be able to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
A difference of just 0.1mm makes a big difference.
The impression changes just by the strength of the hit.
Depending on how you fasten it, the weight will change.
As a person who delivers jewelry, I feel that ``something truly beautiful'' cannot be achieved through mass production, nor can it be controlled remotely. That's why I personally believe that by visiting the site many times, having direct conversations, and making small adjustments over and over again, I can finally make my ideals a reality. This work may be a form of obsession with making good things, similar to pride in oneself, like climbing a snowy mountain one step at a time and aiming for the top.
Show respect to the craftsmen who create the jewelry.
Designs that demonstrate their traditional techniques, and jewelry that continues to do so. By valuing closer and more detailed communication, we can create jewelry that is R ethical.
It is full of traditional craftsmanship techniques, and is something beautiful and personal that cannot be found in mass production or mass consumption. We are proud of this process as an essential cornerstone of R ethical.
January 4, 2019
R ethical representative designer
R Jewels Japan Co., Ltd. CEO Mari Hoshi
~About R ethical~
R ethical, which specializes in minimal and elegant jewelry, brings out the beauty of natural stones from all over the world, with a focus on ethical gold K18.
We also have a lineup of wedding rings and engagement rings.
R ethical is based on the idea of ``creating a cycle of happiness through jewelry, which is a special part of life,'' and uses conflict-free diamonds from Canada and Alliance For Responsible Mining materials. The materials used are Fairmined certified gold and recycled platinum.
We make handmade and hand-finished wedding and engagement rings. We can respond to detailed specifications or take full orders with your own design. We will respond to your detailed requests, so please feel free to contact us.