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Case Study > JA Sharp Custom Jeweler Uses Sustainable Practices


JA Sharp Custom Jeweler

Uses Sustainable Practices

By: Jason Ruhl



General Information about JA Sharp Custom Jeweler

Mission of JA Sharp Custom Jeweler

Jude Sharp

Sylvia Weaver

Andrea Miller Amey

Buddy and Roxie

The Workshop

Conflict diamonds

Sustainability with Gold

Custom Designs

Other Featured Jewelers

"Green" Jewelry is Popular

No Dirty Gold Campaign Rules

The Refining Process of Hoover & Strong

Sustainable Jewelry Practice are Good

Downtown Lancaster

First Fridays

Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network


JA Sharp Custom Jeweler is a local business located in “Uptown” Lancaster. The business incorporates only three employees who work closely together to maintain a successful company while using sustainability practices. Jude Sharp is a professional custom jewelry designer who has been working with gold, silver and platinum since 1970. Jude is the owner of the jewelry store along with her partner, Sylvia Weaver, who operates the non-jewelry aspects of the business. The shop also employs, Andrea Amey Miller, a bench jeweler that specializes in jewelry repair. This business proves that beautiful treasures can be created from recycled materials.

Jude Sharp originated Sharp Studios in 1984 along with Sue Martin. Sharp Studios was in business until 2001 when Jude parted ways with Sue and decided to start fresh. She opened JA Custom Jeweler in a small shop located at 334 North Queen Street. In the summer of 2002, Jude was joined by Sylvia Weaver, who now co-owns JA Custom Jeweler with her. Business flourished and Jude and Sylvia took the opportunity to expand their business when a larger storefront became available down the street. In September of 2007, JA Custom Jeweler moved to its present location at 322 N. Queen Street.

The jewelry shop is noted for being sustainable. From floor to ceiling, Jude and Sylvia make an effort to run their business as eco-friendly as possible. They use compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the store-front to be Energy Star Efficient and even decorate using a fair-trade rug on the hardwood floor. They recycle and re-use everything possible in their everyday efforts to be “green.” If every American home replaced just one light bulb with and Energy Star qualified light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gasses equivalent to the emission of more than 800,000 cars (Energy Star Web site). So by replacing all of the light bulbs in their shop with CFL bulbs, Jude and Sylvia are helping to save energy, prevent greenhouse gasses and save a lot of money.

Location: 322 North Queen Street

Lancaster, PA 17603

Contact Information: (717) 295-9661

Email –

Mission: “We provide beautiful, unusual hand-made jewelry and custom jewelry at a wide range of prices to our clients. We help them to commemorate significant events and transactions in their lives or choose pieces for their own enjoyment. We communicate clearly with our clients to determine what they want, providing them with goods and services as we are able and referring them to others when their needs are beyond what we can offer. We charge fair prices for our jewelry so that our business can prosper and so that the client receives a good value. We treat our clients as we would like to be treated, relating to them as fellow human beings and enjoying the parts of their lives that they choose to share with us.”

Jude Sharp

jude processes

Jude Sharp has been a professional custom jewelry designer working in gold, silver and platinum since 1970. Her shop is now located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she has been working since 1984. Prior to moving to Pennsylvania, Jude created jewelry in Colorado, Utah and California. Jude Sharp is a graduate of Tyler College of Art with a B.F.A. in metals. She has also completed courses in stone setting, repairs, platinum techniques and hand engraving taught by the Gemological Institute of America. Accomplishes in all facets of fine jewelry creation, Jude takes extra pleasure in designing custom pieces for individuals and turning their ideas into striking wearable art.

With over 30 years of experience, Jude has long-term relationships with reputable stone dealers, which guarantees that the stones that she uses in her custom designs are of the highest quality and brilliance. Jude enjoys working with a wide spectrum of stones from traditional to the unusual. Jude has been highlighted on the cover of Lancaster County Magazine for being a successful female business owner.

Jude has a passion for living a sustainable life. When looking to buy a new home a couple years ago, one of the main criteria was that it had to be within a five mile radius to the shop because Jude wanted to ride bike or use public transportation on a daily basis. She held true to her wishes and purchased a home about four miles away and commutes almost all year long on her bicycle. If the weather conditions are too severe, she uses public transportation. Jude packs her lunch regularly and has a re-useable lunch box along with a re-useable bag for her sandwich.

Jude believes that running a business is not just about making a profit. She feels that it should involve an additional two “P’s”; people and the planet. You need to have good relationships with your clients and be friendly with everyone you meet. Many people take the planet for granted and Jude feels that it is important to note the ecological importance of our planet on our daily lives. You have to be aware and care in order to make a difference. In July, Jude participated in her first triathlon in Vermont. She placed first in her age group. Jude lives by the words of Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see.” Jude and Sylvia have a special place in their hearts for “family”, because we are gay-owned. She particularly enjoys making commitment rings and gifts for you to give.


Sylvia Weaver

Jude and Sylvia


Sylvia Weaver joined Jude in her business during the summer 2002. She keeps the books and in general takes care of the non-jewelry-making aspects of the business. She keeps Jude from going over the edge. Sylvia has what she calls a "well-rounded" background. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Computer and Information Science. Her job history includes network administrator, software instructor, beeswax candle maker, and adult literacy coordinator.Her experiences help her to maintain the company web site, do ad displays and customize the showroom.

Sylvia also maintains an eco-friendly lifestyle. She drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, washes and re-uses aluminum foil, re-uses plastic bags and she uses compost in her gardening hobby. Gardening is more than just a fun pastime. You can put your kitchen scraps to use as compost, liven up your surroundings with some good looking plants, and grow your own food – saving you money on grocery bills. Sylvia recently switched both the jewelry shop and her and Jude’s home to a new electric company that supplies electricity from wind and water. The bill will be a little higher, but she says that renewable energy sources are important. To lessen their carbon footprint Sylvia ensures that Andrea, Jude and herself shred office papers and debris to prepare for recycling.

Andrea Miller Amey


Andrea is joked about around the shop as being “recycled” as an employee for Jude. Andrea first worked for Jude at her Sharp Studios store and now has come to work for her again at JA Custom Jewelers. She does her part to keep down the waste while at work and also makes her commute via foot; she walks to the store to help the environment. Andrea is a bench jeweler who specializes in repairs and restorations. Andrea also has her own line of Colonial and Civil War era reproduction jewelry called Amey’s Adornments.

For her pieces through Amey’s Adornments Andrea likes to research using original pieces, reference materials, and 18th and 19th century portraits. They are all meticulously hand-crafted by Andrea, who has been a goldsmith working in the Lancaster County area since 1990. With her own line Andrea maintains sustainability in making historically accurate reproductions. She does not believe in harming the earth and fears that natural oxblood coral is in danger of becoming extinct. Since oxblood coral is known for the time period in which she creates, she solved her problem by using natural bamboo coral that is permanently dyed the oxblood color and is in plentiful supply.

Buddy and Roxie

Jude and dog

Jude and Sylvia love their dogs. They come to work with them everyday. Sylvia brings the dogs in her Ford Escape Hybrid. Buddy is a Brittany and Roxie is a German shorthaired pointer. Buddy and Roxie love to say hello and help brighten up everyone’s day as they shop.

The Workshop

Jude creates her pieces using all recycled materials. She sources the precious metals that she uses from refiners who practice “green” methods of refinery. Hoover and Strong is an eco-friendly refiner and manufacturer of precious metals that Jude works with. The custom pieces that Jude will create for her clients may also feature gems that she re-uses from other jewelry pieces or even conflict-diamonds.

Jude Sharp reduces waste in the studio. She knows where her materials come from and every action of her green efforts makes a difference. If Jude makes 100 rings using ethically sourced gold, she can eliminate a staggering 4 million pounds of rock waste this year alone.

Conflict diamonds

Diamonds that fund conflict in western and central Africa have been in the news lately, but within the industry they’ve been a concern for a number of years. The World Diamond Council was formed in 2000 to confront the issue of conflict diamonds. The UN-mandated Kimberley Process, which bans the sale of conflict diamonds, went into effect January 2003. Since that date, all of the diamonds we have purchased from our diamond suppliers have been in compliance with the Kimberley Process. Every diamond JA Sharp Jewelers purchases from these suppliers has a warranty that reads to the effect:

“For any product fabricated from rough diamonds mined from January 1, 2003 onward, the seller warrants that the diamonds have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and are in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that the diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.”

JA Sharp Jewelers is compliant with using sustainable diamonds in the jewelry that Jude creates.

There is still some controversy about workers’ conditions in the African mines. If you would prefer to have a diamond that does not come from Africa, we can also get Canadian and Russian diamonds for you. To read more about the Kimberly Process and conflict diamonds, go to

Sustainability with Gold

Gold mining is one of the most destructive industries in the world. It pollutes water and land with Mercury and Cyanide, and endangers the health of people and ecosystems. JA Sharp Custom Jeweler, Jude Sharp, loves to work with gold, but knows that current mining practices are bad for the environment. The production of one gold ring can generate 20 tons of waste. At JA Sharp Custom Jeweler, they have committed themselves to using recycled precious metals. They are able to obtain most of their precious metals from a manufacturer who currently gets 80% of its gold from its recycling process, which means they eliminate 2,000,000 tons of waste every year by not using mined gold. By the end of the year it is the manufacturer’s goal to use 100% recycled gold.

Two toned ring


Custom Designs

custom piecemulti gem

If you are looking for a custom designed piece you can contact the store to discuss prospective designs or send a photo or sketch of what you have in mind. If you are not sure what you are looking for we will be able to ask questions to get an idea of what you like and come up with a design to meet your desires. We finalize sketches for your approval before starting a piece

Other Featured Jewelers

Patrick Murphy

Jude has known of Patrick Murphy's jewelry with high quality stones and superb craftsmanship for years; she and Sue Martin carried his work when they owned Sharp Jewelers. We’re delighted to feature his 14k gold jewelry set with precious and semi-precious stones. For more about Patrick Murphy, visit

Mio Studio

Mayra Orama Muñiz and Erica Millner, known collectively as Mio Studio, have their jewelry featured at JA Sharp Custom Jewelers. Recycling rough materials into miniature sculptures that are meant to be worn Mio Studio crafts new life from exotic hardwoods and metals. Artists Mayra Orama Muñiz and Erica Millner hand carve and sand each piece from start to finish, using their years of experience to meld remnants together into clean, modern designs. Their forms hint at the natural flowing beauty of the lush green mountains of Utuado and the pristine white sand beaches of Vega Baja. They also find inspiration in the sculpture of Henry Moore and Asian art.

“Green” Jewelry Is Popular

Jessica ring

“Green” jewelry is rapidly gaining popularity as both an idea and a practice. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent Toxic Release Inventory, from 2006, metal mining is the worst polluting industry in the United States. Metal mining accounts for 34 percent of all waste disposals.

Once precious metals and gems are extracted they are never discarded No one throws away gold. Precious metal refineries recycle the metal that they take in and hallways have. The initial production of jewelry is dirty, but the aftermarket is a place where recycling and enduring value is the norm (Craig, 2008). The degree to which a finished jewelry product is “green” is determined by its compliance with transparent and environmentally conscious material sourcing, ethical labor production, and associated business practices, including the manufacturer’s energy consumption and environmental impact (packaging, transportation of products and waste disposal) (Craig, 2008).

By definition, studio production combines the designer and maker into a single entity. The labor expended to create studio jewelry is therefore ethical. By pairing the imperative of ethically sourced labor with the imperative of ethically sourced materials, we are able to move towards sustainability and green production (Craig, 2008).

In just the last four years there has been significant progress in the supply chain of precious metals and gems. Companies such as Virginia-based refiner Hoover & Strong and Washington-based Columbia Gem House have instituted ethical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly practices. As concerned companies have taken the initiative, and as customers have increasingly demanded an ethical alternative to dirty metals, jewelers have been bombarded with eco-jewelry propaganda (Craig, 2008).

The Golden Rules from Earthwork’s No Dirty Gold Campaign

gold nugget

The most comprehensive and useful parameters for evaluating metal and gem extraction companies

: • Respect basic human rights outlined in international conventions and law.

• Obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of affected communities.

• Respect workers’ rights and labor standards, including safe working conditions

. • Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarized conflict.

• Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands.

• Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems, or other areas of high conservation or ecological value.

• Refrain from dumping mine wastes into the ocean, rivers, lakes or streams.

• Ensure that projects do not contaminate water, soil, or air with sulfuric acid drainage or other toxic chemicals.

• Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites.

• Fully disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects.

• Allow independent verification of the above.

The Refining Process of JA Sharp’s Refiner – Hoover & Strong

The refining process is tedious and technical, but can be easily summarized. In the case of gold, Hoover & Strong uses the Miller Process, in which molten gold is subjected to a chlorine atmosphere while chlorine is bubbled through the gold; the resultant dissolved gold is 99.95 percent pure. (The precipitated impurities such as zinc and copper are sold to other metal refineries, and the chlorine is reused.) Next, the gold undergoes electrolytic refining and deposition, which brings the gold to a purity of 99.9999 percent. This gold then returns to the alloying department, to be used to create new mill products and castings. Since implementing the Miller Process, Hoover & Strong has reduced its chemical usage by 80 percent (Craig, 2008).

Hoover & Strong also recycles all water used in production and does not discharge water into the environment. All emissions are filtered through tubes called scrubbers before being released into the atmosphere, thus eliminating harmful pollutants. In addition, they employ office practices that are part of a facility-wide commitment to maintaining a green company: all of their paper-based packaging, stationery, and catalogs are made from 100 percent recycled material. The entire facility uses energy-saving fluorescent bulbs, and if an employee leaves the lights on, they can expect an email from the committed maintenance staff (Craig, 2008).

Beyond their refining process, use of scrap gold, and office practices, Hoover & Strong will become the first secondary precious metal refinery to audit their materials and to make the results publicly available. They are working with Earthworks and third-party auditors to develop a refining industry standard for recycled or green precious metals, specifically gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Quite literally, Hoover & Strong has set the green standard for the refining industry.

Sustainable Jewelry Practices Are Good

We must all begin to rethink jewelry, at least in terms of sustainability beyond our own lifetime. While acting as a catalyst for change, the No Dirty Gold campaign has deterred countless thousands from purchasing traditionally produced jewelry. Green jewelry has the ability to remove the tarnish that has accumulated on jewelry in general. The few individuals who have taken an interest in greening studio jewelry thus far have produced potent results (Craig, 2008).

Jude Sharp reduces waste in the studio. She knows where her materials come from and every action of her green efforts make a difference. If Jude makes 100 rings using ethically sourced gold, she can eliminate a staggering 4 million pounds of rock waste this year alone.

Downtown Lancaster

Sylvia and Jude shop locally, twice a week at Lancaster’s Central Market. Central Market is both a symbol of Lancaster’s rich heritage and a centerpiece for the current and future vitality of the city center. Continuously operating in Lancaster for more than 270 years, it is a farmers market, a tourist destination, a historic landmark, and the commercial and social hub of downtown — all rolled into one enduring public market tradition.

Jude and Sylvia are friends of Central Market. Friends of Central Market have a mission to be a steward of this unique asset and to help it continue to meet the needs of the Lancaster community. That means increasing awareness of the market through activities and outreach. It means promoting locally grown produce through the Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign. It means caring for the magnificent Central Market building, constructed in 1889 to house the farmers market. And it means supporting the commercial success of the public market by helping stand holders and the Central Market Trust, which operates the market, with our energy and ideas.

JA Sharp Custom Jeweler participates in First Fridays to help stimulate the Arts in Lancaster.

First Fridays

First Fridays are a great time to experience the urban ambience of downtown Lancaster! Join the thousands who enjoy the evening's artistic energy and fun surprises that make each First Friday special.

First Fridays occur on the first Friday evening of every month year round. Over 70 arts venues extend their hours and stay open to 9:00 PM - some even later! Music and refreshments often complement the changing exhibitions and performances.

With a large number of galleries concentrated in Lancaster's bustling downtown district, it is easy and fun to stroll the streets, browse the galleries, meet the artists, and purchase fine art to grace your home and office. Along the way, you will find a range of distinctive owner-operated boutiques and shops with unique and eclectic products not duplicated elsewhere. Complete the evening with a meal at one of the numerous excellent downtown restaurants that offer menus from casual to fine dining. Whether you are looking for sophisticated or funky, retro or edgy, antique or contemporary, you will find it in downtown Lancaster.

Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network

JA Custom Jewelers is a member of the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network.

Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network (SSBN) is growing a local economy that promotes social, environmental and financial sustainability in Lancaster and York Counties.SSBN is committed to this region and its quality of life.

To build a strong local economy, we organize around the components or building blocks of a sustainable system: Retail, Food & Farming , Building, Green Energy

Important Links:

CENTRAL MARKET - A Living Tradition

Central Market is the cornerstone of Lancaster’s living history and a daily reminder of the enduring vitality of community life. When you shop at Central Market, you are participating in a cultural tradition that touches four centuries. For this reason, Central Market was named one of “America’s Great Public Places,” bringing people from many walks of life together in a vibrant and beautiful historic environment.


Downtown Lancaster


Love the Arts? Lancaster City is home to over 90 top-notch art-related destinations and organizations. From fine art galleries & studios, art & cultural museums, and artisans, to performing art centers, antique art galleries, and arts educational institutions - LancasterARTS is a unique experience for everyone to enjoy!


Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network


Story about pets in the workplace – featuring JA Sharp Custom Jeweler

This site was researched and written by Jason Ruhl( Contact: who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

© 2007 Millersville University. All Rights Reserved.