Our Ethos

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. ― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
 
 
 

We at Common Ground believe that all of us are responsible for the three facets of healthy and ethical consumption: economical, social, and environmental. We are stewards of the earth and it’s up to us to ensure that we do the best job possible in caring for all who inhabit it. 

Why did you change your name?

When we opened, we chose the name "Orenda" because its meaning was everything we wanted to embody. It was striking and powerful; the unmistakable energy and spirit that everything on earth possesses. But we were eventually faced with the reality that the word Orenda is considered sacred to so many indigenous people. Continuing to use it would be disrespectful to these communities and a betrayal of our core principles.

So starting now, we are shedding "Orenda" and we will be rekindled as "Common Ground." This name means a lot to us; it recognizes that though we hold our own unique individual experiences and principles, we are universally elemental. We are all part of the earth that bore us. We are grounded.

 

What is your packaging made from? 

 Our packaging is 95% post-consumer, biodegradable, recyclable material. The 5% that's not is the little bit of cotton fill that comes in our jewelry boxes to prevent tarnish and protect the piece. We're looking for a way to eliminate that, but the rest of our boxes, shipping materials, labels ect are eco-friendly!

 
Where do you source your metals?
 
All of the metals used in our pieces are recycled from post-consumer materials. When we have scrap material at the end of a production cycle, we sell our bits of scrap back to our dealers to be refined and, ultimately, used again. This creates a closed-loop system within the United States which means less mining, less international movement, less environmental impact, and a more sustainable product. 
 
Who makes your jewelry?
 
Most of our jewelry is made in house by owners Susan Pridham and Alexa Suess in Greenport, NY. We also stock select studios that align with our principles from across the country. No sweatshops, no slave labor. 
 
Are your gemstones ethically mined?
 

This is a tough subject. The reality is, to date there is no ethical certification or standard for colored gemstones. There is limited certification for diamonds - known at the Kimberly Accord - but that certification only applies to rough material (uncut diamond) and not to individual finished stones. Add in the complications of a long "chain of custody" or the dozens of people who may buy and resell the stone, and you quickly realize that everything "ethical" on paper is sworn on a pinky promise and nothing more.

There are a few things we’re doing to mitigate this risk. We currently avoid stones like emerald, tanzanite, jade, coral, and lapis lazuli that regularly fund organized crime or cost an increased environmental toll. We can also provide “recycled” stones that have been recut and reused. There’s also the option to buy stones mined and cut within the USA which reduces energy usage.

Finally, there’s always the option of purchasing a cultured or lab-grown version of the stone you’re looking for. These stones are chemically and structurally the same thing as what you’d mine from the earth but are instead made in laboratories. They have the benefit of being more environmentally friendly, but also cost many communities in developing countries the opportunity to profit from their natural resources - instead compounding wealth in the hands of a few wealthy corporations.

Overall, we realize that there are a lot of challenges in finding the right ethical option. Don't be afraid to tell us about your concerns and we will find a stone and a solution that fits your life and your ethos. 

 

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