When shopping for a new piece of jewelry for yourself or someone else, it’s important to think about more than just looks and price. Many of the materials used to create jewelry and the practices used to obtain them can cause immense harm to the environment. Additionally, employees may be forced to work long hours in terrible conditions without fair pay.
Although jewelry production can cause a lot of harm to people and the planet, there are some amazing people trying to change that.
To help you make your next jewelry purchase a little more kind 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 “defending the ocean and preserving marine resources, community, education and empowering people”. They use 100% recycled metals which are refined by a supplier who is part of the Responsible Jewelery Council; their stones are recycled from vintage jewelry; and their recycled abalone shells and pearls by-products from 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 make sure the people they employ are paid fair wages and work in good conditions. The brand received the Butterfly Mark for excellence in sustainability in 2019.
2. Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages focuses on “putting people and planet first”. Their transparent artisan investment model clearly shows the steps they take to ensure that artisans are treated well and paid a wage that the artisans themselves agree to be fair. This allows artisans to gain financial security and break out of the cycle of generational poverty. Ten Thousand Villages also takes care of the planet by using local, recycled and renewable materials and by promoting energy efficiency.
Catbird NYC is a woman-owned, Brooklyn-based company focused on treating everyone, from the staff to the ground, “with respect and dignity.” Their employees receive fair wages and benefits and work in a clean, bright space that you can check out online. Their diamonds are lab grown, conflict free or recycled to ensure they are ethically sourced. The few other stones they use are sourced from suppliers who continuously check for high environmental and human rights standards. They are also No Dirty Gold certified as their suppliers use recycled and ethically sourced golds as well as their own alloys. Catbird NYC is very transparent in its practices and you can find out more here!
SOKO is a “women-led, people-focused” company that helps craftspeople in Kenya connect to the global market so they reach a wider consumer base and therefore, nearly five times more than they do would do in average workshops. Their “virtual factory” model helps artisans 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 from sustainable materials that are reclaimed, recycled and sustainable!
5. Laura Elisabeth
Source: Laura Stuart/YouTube
Laura Elizabeth is an ethical, plant-inspired jewelry brand based in downtown Los Angeles. Focused on sustainability, the brand uses recycled metals and implements sustainable practices to deal with waste. They also create their pieces without acid or chemicals. Thus, employees work in a space free of any toxic fumes. They also receive fair wages and work regular hours.
6. Trade Aid
As one of the founding members of the Fair Trade Federation, Aid Through Trade’s mission is “to bring fair trade to the world of fashion 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 compensation and good benefits. The company is also a member of Green America, which means that it uses sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
7. Bario Neal
Bario Neal was started by designers upset with the negative impact the jewelry industry can often have on humans and the environment. Thus, the women-owned company ensures that its materials are acquired in a sustainable and ethical way. They use reclaimed and Fairmined metals as well as fully traceable stones throughout the supply chain. This ensures that the land and the workers are well treated where they source the materials.
8. Zoe Chicco
One of Zoë Chicco’s core values is sustainability and ethical production. Her jewelry is handcrafted in a downtown LA studio by a team of artisans who receive competitive salaries with benefits. These beautiful, sustainable pieces use conflict-free diamonds, ethically sourced gemstones and recycled gold.
J.Hannah is always actively striving to create a more sustainable business. They do this through local production, minimizing waste and using ethically sourced recycled materials that have been certified sustainable by several environmental organizations. J.Hannah also welcomes inquiries and embraces transparency in their ethics.
10. The Common Era
Common Era is 100% women-owned. They are inspired by ancient history and mythology, however, their values are very avant-garde. Common Era works with several 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 are donated to the Animal Welfare Institute, Slaughterhouse Survivors and, in 2020, Feeding America.
Here are some of the other sustainable and ethical brands we found for you: 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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