On my first visit to London back in 1997 (while on a Reading Break from university), I discovered that this city often has the most glorious sunny and warm Februaries. I’m not sure if its a London thing or a global warming thing, but this year was no exception and during the 20 degree Celsius weather we experienced during the recent half term week my husband suggested we head out to Kew Gardens to check out the annual orchid display – something I’ve never managed to see before. I also thought it sounded like a great place to feature my newest collaboration with Ingle & Rhode who had recently kindly gifted me with one of their fair-trade sterling silver pendants in the shape of a hummingbird with two small Canadian diamonds for eyes.
So before we get onto the orchids and spring flowers, let me tell you a little bit about Canadian diamonds. I’m Canadian, for a start. (Did you know that?) And I first fell in love with Canadian diamonds while I was attending the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and one of my jeweller friends was doing her thesis on the Canadian diamond mining industry.
I was delighted to find that London-based Ingle & Rhode, creators of fine ethical bespoke engagement and wedding jewellery, wished to work with me to promote their collection of ethical fair-trade sterling silver jewellery set with Canadian diamonds. Mother’s Day is coming soon (well…UK Mother’s Day, not the Canadian one) and I think one of their sterling silver love knot necklaces or lotus flower earrings would make a beautiful present for mama. The pieces are very well crafted and have the luxurious weight and finish which you expect from a piece of English silver craftsmanship. (I have a few pieces made to this standard and my other silver pieces simply do not compare.) I have received quite a lot of compliments on my little hummingbird too.
Metal and gemstone mining will never be perfect industries. Lets face it, but there are better options which have less environmental impact and mining companies which care about the welfare of their workers more. We all have different opinions when it comes to what we consider ethical, so to find out more about Ingle & Rhode’s ethical standards, click here.
Canadian diamonds are as good as you can get when it comes to ethical diamonds. They are mined in the Canadian arctic and Canadian diamond miners often say that while most diamonds have the 4 C’s for cut, clarity, colour and carat), Canadian diamonds have 6 C’s because they’re also conflict-free and Canadian. All Canadian diamonds carry a tracking number and diamonds from the mine in Ontario also carry a small tritium emblem, as that is the provincial flower. (I thought that sounded like a sweet touch!)
Canadian environmental protection laws require that environmental assessments be carried out before new diamond mines can be approved and that effective systems are in place to protect local wildlife. Also, once mining has stopped, the mining company is required to restore the land. That being said, a mine is still a mine and has an environmental and socio-economic impact on the surrounding area; we can’t polish that truth away, but Canadian diamond mines will have far less environmental impact, as they do not use the heavy chemical solvents that many other mines around the world use.
Most of us mark celebrations or important points in our lives with jewellery. I bought my husband vintage Tiffany cufflinks on our anniversary and he bought me a bespoke made asscher cut diamond solitaire ring for our engagement in 2011. I’d love to have some baguette cut shoulders or side stones added to it someday, similar to this Bellecanto ring. Those wanting to mark an occasion with something a bit more substantial than a silver necklace should look at Ingle & Rhode’s engagement ring collection or even work with them to create a special, unique bespoke piece using all ethically mined and/or recycled precious metals and gemstones. If you’d like to see me go in and visit them at some point in the future to find out more about how this process works, just let me know in the comment section below.
But now…more about those orchids. The orchids are all in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens and will be there until 10 March 2019 (although its an annual thing, so if not this year, then next). I highly recommend you get over to Kew to see them if at all possible, because they are spectacular.
A day out at Kew Gardens is not inexpensive, so I found a 2 for 1 ticket deal online with one of the train companies and we were both surprised how short the trip was from Peckham to this far west London outpost. A short walk from the station led us to the Elizabeth Gate. Even with the 2 for 1 voucher, our visit cost us £24. We were really disappointed after entering the gardens to find that the Treetop Walk was closed for maintenance, something which had not been mentioned on their website while we were planning our visit.
After seeing the orchids we made time to walk around all the beautiful grounds at Kew, enjoying the Palm House and the Spring Flowers before heading off to a late lunch at local friendly pub The Cricketeers where they have a great extensive vegan menu.