When buying a new piece of jewelry for yourself or someone else, it’s important to think about more than just the look and the price. Many of the materials used to create jewelry and practices that are used to obtain them can cause immense harm to the environment. Furthermore, employees may be forced to work for long hours in terrible conditions without fair wages.
Although jewelry production can cause a lot of harm to people and the planet, there are some amazing people that are trying to change that.
In order to help you make your next jewelry purchase a bit kinder to people and the planet, we’ve found these amazing ethical and sustainable jewelry brands for you to check out!
1. Washed Ashore
Washed Ashore‘s beautiful jewelry is created with “defense of the ocean and preservation of marine resources, community, education, and people empowerment” in mind. They use 100% recycled metals that are refined by a supplier who is part of the Responsible Jewellery Council; their stones are upcycled from vintage jewelry; and their abalone shells and pearls upcycled byproducts of other industries. Washed Ashore’s ethical and sustainable business model goes beyond the materials they use. They also use reusable packaging, partner with CarbonFund, a carbon offset program, and ensure the people that they employ are paid fair wages and work in good conditions. The brand was awarded the Butterfly Mark for excellence in sustainability in 2019.
2. Ten Thousand Villages
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Ten Thousand Villages focuses on “putting people and the planet first.” Their transparent artisan investment model clearly shows the steps they take to ensure artisans are treated well and paid a wage that the artisans themselves agree is fair. This enables the artisans to become financially secure and break out of the cycle of generational poverty. Ten Thousand Villages also cares for the planet by using locally sourced, recycled, and renewable materials as well as by promoting energy efficiency.
3. Catbird NYC
Catbird NYC is a woman-owned, Brooklyn-based business that focuses on treating everyone, from the staff to the earth, “with respect and dignity.” Their employees receive fair wages as well as benefits and work in a clean, light-filled space that you can view online. Their diamonds are lab-grown, conflict-free, or recycled to ensure they are obtained ethically. The few other stones that they use are from vendors that continuously review for high environmental and human rights standards. They are also No Dirty Gold certified as their vendors use recycled and ethically-sourced golds as well as their own alloys. Catbird NYC is very transparent in its practices and you can read more here!
SOKO is a “women-led, people-first” company that helps artisans in Kenya connect to the global marketplace so that they reach a wider consumer-base and thus, almost five times more than they would in average workshops. Their “virtual factory” model helps artisans to become financially secure and independent. As a certified B-Corp, SOKO “meet[s] the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Their jewelry is also made using long-lasting, reclaimed, recycled, and sustainable materials!
5. Laura Elizabeth
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Laura Elizabeth is a plant-inspired ethical jewelry brand based in downtown LA. Focused on sustainability, the brand uses recycled metals and implements sustainable practices for dealing with waste. They also create their pieces without any acid or chemicals. Thus, employees, work in a space without any toxic fumes. They are also paid fair wages and work normal hours.
6. Aid Through Trade
As one of the founding members of the Fair Trade Federation, Aid Through Trade‘s mission is “To bring Fair Trade to the fashion world through the design of beautiful jewelry.” The brand employs around 200 women in Nepal and hopes to empower them “through ethical, fair, and sustainable employment.” They ensure that their employees work in good conditions and receive both fair pay and good benefits. The company is also a member of Green America, meaning that they use sustainable and environmentally-conscious practices.
7. Bario Neal
Bario Neal was started by designers who were upset by the negative impact that the jewelry industry can often have on humans and the environment. Thus, the women-owned company ensures that its materials are both sustainably and ethically acquired. They use reclaimed and Fairmined metals as well as stones that are fully-traceable along the supply chain. This ensures that both the earth and the workers are treated well at the places that they source their materials from.
8. Zoë Chicco
One of Zoë Chicco‘s core values is sustainability and ethical production. Her jewelry is handmade at a Downtown LA studio by a team of artisans that are paid competitive salaries with benefits. These beautiful, long-lasting pieces use conflict-free diamonds, ethically-sourced gemstones, and recycled gold
J.Hannah is always actively striving towards creating a more sustainable business. They do this through local production, minimizing waste, and using recycled, ethically-sourced materials that have been certified sustainable through multiple environmental organizations. J.Hannah also welcomes inquiries and embraces transparency in their ethics.
10. Common Era
Common Era is a 100% woman-owned business. They take inspiration from ancient history and mythology, however, their values are very forward-thinking. Common Era works with multiple organizations to ensure that their conflict-free and recycled materials are sustainable. Plus, they don’t use plastic in their packaging! A portion of their profits is donated to the Animal Welfare Institute, Slaughterhouse Survivors, and, during 2020, Feeding America.
Here are some of the other sustainable and ethical brands we found for you to check out: Valley Rose, Made Trade, 31 Bits, ABLE, Nisolo, Mejuri, Starfish Project, Aurate, Accompany, Smiling Rock, Gjenmi, VRAI, AGMES, SVNR, AKOLA, Poppy Finch, Wolf Circus, Meadowlark, Bagatiba, and Arlokea.
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Easy Ways to Help the Planet:
- Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
- Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take initiative by standing up against fast fashion pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that are raising awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
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- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, donate if you can, grow your own food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!