AUTHENTICITY. Now there’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Its a little ironic in that despite its frequency as a word, it’s not all that common to find as a quality. Tricky thing this authenticity – being true to ones own values, walking the talk, being genuine. How do you test true authenticity? It’s important to many of us, but who has time to check? The burden of proof is on the buyer too often, so how to avoid being duped? We don’t have answers to all of this sadly, but one thing I know is I feel better using a business when I see employees are really happy to be there, or when they make an effort to minimise their waste and show how they are trying to recycle and be conscientious about how they run things. Social conscience matters to me so I prefer using businesses that have one.
In an increasingly virtual and instant world, it seems we seek out things that are more genuine. We crave transparency. We are impressed with honesty. As corporations get bigger and more convenient for us, we seem pulled toward convenience – but what are we sacrificing? Transparency and authenticity isn’t easy for large companies to convey even when they want to. Luckily its a bit simpler as a small business. If we find something is happening that we don’t agree with, we can change it. There are far fewer processes, rules and contracts to overcome. Case in point. Someone referred me to a store in Waikiki – a great location, and they carried some lovely products. But when I walked in I saw they had sharks jaws and teeth hung on their walls for sale. As a long-time supporter of protecting sharks, trade and profit on their body parts is a deal breaker for me (see Why Sharks? and our Fish Hook posts), and I didn’t pursue it further. (incidentally, the shop was soon found to be dealing in illegal trade of exotic animals and they were shut down and prosecuted.)
But when it comes to authenticity, its not just about whether we are true to our beliefs of integrity, sustainability and quality. I think there are at least two more angles that are important – being true to our customers and readers (honesty, transparency, clarity), and also ensuring we do right for the creatures and things we are representing (dignity, education and conservation).
So when we started making barbless circle hooks, I needed to make sure we did right by our customers, readers, fishermen and fishhooks! I read up on the history of fish hooks (did you know fish hooks have potentially been around 30-40,000 years?!) and tried to understand their evolution. For something so ancient and fundamental to humans living near water, it was really interesting to understand where they have come from and why changes have happened. (check out the previous blog post on why using barbless circle hooks is so great) So while you probably wouldn’t want to go fishing with our hooks (for starters, they’re not sharp since you wear it on your wrist), they do retain the essential characteristics of a true circle hook.
And remember, the purpose of these is to raise awareness and to help marine life – we donate a percentage of every BCH purchase to conservation organisations that help wildlife harmed by fishing hooks.
MAKING OUR HOOKS
I’m a firm believer in quality materials so the hooks start with a beautiful kind of sterling silver called Argentium to make the hook and ring. This sterling replaces some of the copper used in normal sterling with a metal called germanium. It produces a brighter, whiter metal that resists tarnish for much longer (copper is the main tarnish culprit in standard sterling) Argentium is a bit more temperamental to work with, and costs a little more too so not all jewelers choose to use it – but we think its worth it for the shine and color.
The hook and the ring start as a coil of silver wire. We cut, file, solder, stamp and form each piece by hand before being hammered for both strength and texture. Each is individually made and shaped free form! After a multi-step polishing process, we attach them to either our deerskin, cowhide, or vegan microfiber options. The deerskin is great for those who want a silky soft material, and cowhide for those who prefer more structure.
As with all our jewelry, Joe and I have been testing them for fit, comfort and durability. We really want you to love your purchase so we are making sure its long-wearing and comfortable. While we don’t recommend anyone wear their jewelry 24/7, and certainly not in the water (ocean or pool!) But a very good dive friend of ours is doing exactly that. He wears his everywhere, and literally never takes it off – diving, shower, cycling, working. I’m happy to report, the cowhide has gotten smoother, softer, and just molded to his wrist – and is strong as ever! If you have one, do let us know how you like them, we’d love to hear from you.