Jewelry has been treated as an item that can be bought and sold without ethical considerations due to the lack of understanding of its origins.
This is where ethical jewelry comes in. This movement means a lot more than just a good conscience. Ethical jewelry also means supporting fair practices in mining or being able to buy from sustainable sources.
The sustainable jewelry industry has grown tremendously over the last few years, with many brands rallying to offer customers high-quality products at affordable prices while ensuring they are sourcing their materials responsibly and ethically.
This blog post will explore these brands and discuss why ethical jewelry may be better than what you’re used to!
What is ethical jewelry?
Ethical jewelry refers to the ethical sourcing of materials and responsible manufacturing processes. This means that ethical jewelry is made by companies concerned with human rights, ethical business practices, sustainable mining methods, ethical labor practices such as fair compensation, and zero child or slave labor.
Ethical jewelry also means buying from sustainably sourced materials where sources are harvested or mined responsibly, considering the surrounding ecosystems.
Is there a difference between ethical jewelry and commercial jewelry?
Yes. Commercial jewelry brands are concerned with making money and creating trinkets with no consideration for the environment or its workers.
Ethical jewelry is about ethical business practices, fair labor conditions, ethical sourcing of materials (or responsible mining), ethical manufacturing processes (e.g., not using conflict minerals), and ensuring your purchase isn’t supporting human rights violations like child slavery.
Why ethical jewelry? What are its benefits?
Ethical jewelry brands offer their customers high-quality, unique pieces that will last a lifetime. Buying jewelry such as fair trade gold, recycled sterling silver or conflict-free diamonds means supporting sustainable practices in mining or buying from sustainable sources.
Here are just some of the benefits of buying gemstones and jewelry from sustainable jewelry brands:
Supports the environment
Commercial jewelry has adverse effects on the environment and the surrounding ecosystems. The processes for mining these materials involves harmful chemicals which pollute waterways, damage forests, endanger animals and wildlife, destroy habitats by digging up land to find gold deposits, and devastate human lives with unsafe working conditions.
Buying from a sustainable jewelry brand ensures your purchase isn’t supporting environmental destruction, deforestation, air pollution, water pollution from chemical run-off, habitat destruction, erosion, and other negative impacts of mining.
Fosters sustainable development in communities
Buying from sustainable jewelry brands helps support businesses and artisans, which also helps support the development of a community. Sustainable jewelry companies work directly with mining communities to ensure their practices are ethical and provide fair wages for those who mine responsibly.
Supports ethical labor practices
Ethical jewelry brands are concerned with ethical business practices that ensure your purchase isn’t supporting human rights violations like child slavery or unfair compensation for workers in mines. Buying ethical means you’re helping support honorable labor conditions where workers have safe working environments, fair pay, and ethical working hours.
Helps to end child slavery and exploitation
Sustainable jewelry brands don’t allow child labor to be used in their supply chains. By buying ethically, you’re helping end the use of children as laborers, which means your purchase isn’t supporting human rights violations like child slavery or trafficking that often accompany unethical practices.
Ethical and sustainable jewelry brands don’t have to charge you a premium for ethical practices. In fact, ethical and sustainable products often cost less than their commercial counterparts because they lack the expensive marketing budgets to promote high-end fashion or luxury items.
Offers more style and variety
Sustainable jewels offer unique styles, designs, and variety in materials compared to commercial counterparts. Ethical companies are constantly innovating to produce new pieces beyond just Gold or silver metals for everyday wear.
10 Best Sustainable Jewelry Brands on the market
Fine jewelry doesn’t have to be irresponsibly sourced. Numerous jewelry brands support and adopt the fair trade movement and ethical business practices.
Here are some ethical and sustainable jewelry brands to check out:
For ethical jewelry that won’t break the bank, check out Arlokea, which offers ethical gold pieces at affordable prices. Some of their designs are made from recycled metals, and all pieces are responsibly sourced. Additionally, this woman-owned company is constantly looking to address social issues like education, health, and poverty. With each purchase, customers can support women and communities in countries like Vietnam and Ethiopia.
Ten Thousand Villages is a market-to-market store that sells handcrafted products such as handmade jewelry, which are ethical and sustainable. The company is committed to ensuring they’re using ethical business practices that create positive change worldwide by providing fair trade practices, and using ethically sourced, recycled materials.
Washed Ashore is a Los Angeles-based jewelry brand that uses recycled Gold and other unwanted metal jewelry to create ethical and sustainable pieces. Their jewelry line includes rings, earrings, necklaces, and more made from recycled metals and upcycled gemstones such as pearls and Abalone shells. Washed Ashore also uses recyclable packaging materials to reduce its carbon footprint.
If you’re looking for ethically sourced wedding rings, Taylor & Hart is the best sustainable jewelry brand to consider. Known for their bespoke engagement and wedding rings, UK-based Taylor & Hart only uses conflict-free diamonds and fair-trade gold in all of their pieces.
Aurate is a jewelry brand based in New York City that offers high-quality jewelry pieces made from sustainable materials. The company uses ethically sourced recycled Gold, ethically sourced diamonds, and sustainably harvested pearls. Additionally, the brand has partnered with non-profit organizations to bring positive change to social issues such as women empowerment, education, and social equity.
Another New York based jewelry brand, Catbird, makes their own jewelry in-house and uses only recycled gold and certified conflict-free diamonds and gemstones. The company also adopts fair trade practices by employing local artisans and jewelers and giving them better than fair wages. Aside from that, Catbird also donates a percentage of its sales to non-profit organizations such as The Food Bank of New York City.
SVNR offers stunning jewelry pieces made from ethically sourced, natural materials. The brand is well-known for incorporating recycled and upcycled objects such as shells, beads, and stones into its handmade jewelry and accessory line. SVNR uses ethical business practices by adopting a sustainable manufacturing process.
If you love minimalist jewelry pieces, you might want to check Omi Woods. Using fair-trade African Gold and conflict-free metals in each piece, Omi Woods creates handmade jewelry that honors and celebrates the African culture. Their fair trade gold comes from small-scale artisanal mines in Africa. Recently, three of the brand’s handmade necklaces were included in Oprah’s Favorite Things 2021.
The Little Market’s jewelry – from hoop earrings to rings and necklaces – are all ethically made by artisans in Cambodia. They only use conflict-free stones and materials. The brand is also considered a non-profit enterprise that donates some of its proceeds to support and empower women artisans.
ABLE is a B Corporation ethical and sustainable fashion brand that uses ethical practices in every step of the jewelry-making process, from sourcing and supply chain to production. ABLE uses only recycled materials in each artisan-made jewelry. The brand is committed to empowering women by offering them employment and supporting artisans in need.
If you’re in the market for good quality, sustainable jewelry that will last a lifetime, look no further than the ethical brands we listed above. These companies care about their customers and offer high-quality pieces with unique designs so everyone can find something they love while adopting ethical practices that will benefit the planet and the workers.
Do you have a favorite ethical jewelry brand? Let us know in the comments below!