At the age of 20, I went to the Sierra of Peru to study advanced jewelry techniques with artisans, while doing internships in the area of social development of a mining project. This experience helped me to understand the context better and to develop a vision of the problems faced by a craftsman, as well as the mine impacts on its influence zone.
After studying Business Engineering at the University of the Pacific in Lima – a professional career that helped me to improvemy abilities in business and entrepreneurship – and working in various companies and industries related to social impact projects development, I decided to found Casa Collab.
Having this “from the mine to the craftsman” conception of the jewelry supply chain and the knowledge of the creation of impact models, Casa Collab is a collaborative design laboratory that develops sustainable and innovative jewelry. From the beginning, Casa Collab was established as a company with a triple impact goal: social, environmental and economic.
Casa Collab purpose is to go beyond the mainstream, developing jewelry that impacts using the co-creation as a shared value engine from the mining organization to the craftsman and the customer. Thus, in 2018, we became the first company in South America to be certified as B Company in the jewelry industry.
This certification, audited by B Lab, guarantees that the company follow its impact standards at the community level, environment, governance, suppliers, inclusive business models, clients and collaborators. Belonging to the community of more than 2,700 B companies worldwide allows us to be part of a revolution of companies which are transforming the way of doing business. It is within this business model that Casa Collab started as a Fairmined Licensee in 2016, the year of our foundation.
In Peru, the informality problem reaches more than 70% of the workforce (El Comercio, 2018), which is also reflected in mining, that includes a large number of this percentage. This type of mining generates exploitation of the workforce, depletes natural ecosystems and does not report to the State. Then, these metals enter the market and are commonly traded, making it difficult to identify which gold belongs to the illegal market and which does not.
Sourcing Fairmined certified metals makes it easier to have a transparent model in the acquisition of precious metals, in addition to generate a positive impact in the artisanal mining communities of Peru, our country of origin. Currently, Casa Collab works with the mining organization Oro Puno, that extracts gold without the use of mercury (Ecological Fairmined Gold) and CECOMIP, both located in Puno, Peru.
Likewise, manufacture in Casa Collab is made by artisans from different areas of Peru, with whom we work under the Fairmined philosophy, which seeks to remunerate the development of jewelry with high market standards, developing training and providing support in the development of every craftsman.
By following the line of sustainable materials sourcing, Casa Collab is the first South American retailer of carbon neutral diamonds from Diamond Foundry, a company that produces diamonds on the soil of America (California, United States of America) using solar energy.
For this reason, we had been invited since 2018 to participate in the auction organized in New York by the NGO Pure Earth, which brings together different jewelers worldwide that use sustainable precious metals such as Fairmined gold. The funds raised during this auction are redistributed to communities that are most contaminated by the use of mercury worldwide, two of them in Peru.
The design has been an important contributor in the production of esthetically beautiful goods and that in turn generate greater consumption, however, we have neglected that, in a planet of limited resources, consumption must be circular. What we consume must also be returned to the planet. That is why Casa Collab uses a Product Activation Policy, a lifetime guarantee that allows you to maintain or re-design the jewelry that each of your clients purchase from the studio at very low costs.
Nuestro propósito es devolverle al planeta todo lo que nos ha dado, como cuando las olas traían esas conchitas a mis pies de niña.
Andrea Jose Castro (Peru, 1990) – Founder and Executive President
She is a Business Engineer at the Universidad del Pacífico (Lima, Peru) and she studied one semester at Regents College, London.
She has been fascinated by jewelry since she was a child, when she resorted to simple elements like shells and seeds to create her own pieces. When she was 20, she learned jewelry techniques with master craftsmen in the Sierra of Peru. Her diverse professional experiences have been focused on sustainability and the management of impact projects, and combined with her passion for new jewelry technologies.
Alegría L. (2018), “Informality keeps dominating employement in Peru”, Diario El Comercio Perú. https://elcomercio.pe/economia/peru/informalidad-sigue-dominando-creacion-peru-noticia-547252 (Accessed: January 2019).