If you think affordable ethical jewelry is as rare as pink unicorns…think again!
By Lora O’Brien
Jewelry always makes a beautiful gift, whether it’s to yourself, or for someone else. But it can be pretty pricey – especially if you’re seeking more ethical and sustainable options. That’s because transparent production lines and fair wages do cost a bit more.
But we think it’s absolutely worth paying for that. As we all know from the Leonardo DiCaprio film Blood Diamond, these gems and many others are often traded to fuel conflict. Furthermore, child labor can be used to source gold, diamonds and other jewelry components. And in general, the artisans who make jewelry are usually found in the developing world, and are paid a pittance.
Luckily, there are increasing numbers of sustainable jewelry brands with good ethics whose pieces don’t cost the Earth. And we found ten of the best, here below!
Though some of these brands also create, shall we say, ‘investment’ pieces, each is also well known for producing some of the best affordable jewelry out there.
Affordable Ethical Jewelry Brands You Need To Know
When it comes to wearing our finest jewels, some of us tend to save these for a special occasion. But affordable ethical jewelry brand Mejuri encourages you to wear your fine jewelry every day! Based on the ethos that jewelry is an expression of self, the brand encourages you to wear it when you want to, buy it when you feel like it, and keep it forever.
Mejuri offers rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets made from materials including stones, diamonds and precious metals which have all been ethically sourced and are conflict-free. Each piece is handcrafted by artisans around the world who are paid living wages. However, the brand boasts that while they’re uplifting their craftswomen through well-paid employment, they still manage to keep prices fair for their customers.
Best for: Gorgeous signature pieces that you can wear daily
Sustainable because: They are dedicated to being 100% sustainable through both materials and product traceability
Prices start around: $50
#TOGETHERBAND is brought to you by the British luxury sustainable brand BOTTLETOP. Since 2002, that brand has been on a mission to empower people and the planet through sustainable design. They now have workshops and training programs in both Brazil and Nepal, bringing work to challenged parts of the world. For example, their atelier in Brazil employs over 20 predominately female artisans, earning them 45% more than the Brazilian industry average.
#TOGETHERBAND is a collaboration between them and the Yawanawá community. This is an Indigenous group that lives deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The creation of #TOGETHERBAND’s Yawa bracelets provides a way for the Yawanawá community to continue living as they always have done in the Amazon, without having to go to the city to look for work. The bands also help to preserve local materials, and indigenous crafts and skills. This is a non-profit, of course, and 100% of all profits are reinvested into preserving the Amazon. Which protects the Yawanawá community, too.
Best for: Helping to preserve the Amazon rainforest and its people
Based: London/the Amazon
Sustainable because: As mentioned, #TOGETHERBAND gives back 100% of its funds to help preserve the Amazon rainforest. Alongside this, BOTTLETOP sources the finest sustainable and upcycled materials in challenged parts of the world, giving back in huge ways while doing so.
Prices start around: $30
Akind’s founder, Anna Wallander, is changing the status quo when it comes to affordable ethical jewelry. Instead of following the cliched notion that men gift jewelry to women, she encourages women to mark special occasions in their lives by gifting themselves something meaningful.
Had a baby? Got a promotion at work? Why not celebrate with a lab-grown diamond? Diamonds aren’t exclusive for marriage, after all! Akind is an inclusive, modern and transparent brand, which manages to provide high quality, sustainable jewelry at honest prices.
Best for: Exceptional lab-grown diamonds in delicate settings
Sustainable because: They specialise in conflict-free, synthetic diamonds
Prices start around: $70
Catbird jewelry creates stunningly delicate and dainty pieces that are made to be worn in everyday life. While Catbird itself is an affordable ethical jewelry maker, they also stock other artisan brands on their platform, too. These include beauty, fashion and home wear.
Their conscious jewelry partners create everything from well-priced engagement and wedding rings to costume jewelry for everyday wear.
Best for: Jewelry that lasts, made with the lowest environmental impact
Sustainable because: Catbird is a member of No Dirty Gold. They use conflict-free stones, recycled gold and offer fair wages and ethical working conditions
Prices start around: $60
SOKO is a brand inspired by powerful women who refuse to be defined by the status quo. All of their affordable ethical jewelry pieces are created, innovated and inspired by women who choose to build a better, more brilliant future for themselves, their families and their communities.
The jewelry brand is most famous for connecting artisans in Kenya with a global audience. By embracing a tech-powered manufacturing platform, they help to give access to a wider market. This allows their talented artisans to earn an income that’s reflective of their incredible talent.
Best for: Their range includes classic, minimalist pieces inspired by architecture and traditional tribal designs
Based: USA & Kenya
Sustainable because: They’re Certified B Corp, use Fair Trade practises and use upcycled and sustainable materials across their budget-friendly ethical jewelry ranges.
Prices start around: $38
The philosophy behind SiiZu is pretty simple: to design and deliver beautiful jewelry to the world without compromising on quality. Made with sustainable manufacturing practices, the New York-based brand creates luxury jewelry fair prices. They can do so because they’re a direct-to-consumer brand, which means they skip the middleman and wholesale markups!
SiiZu is super sustainable, too. The brand uses planet friendly materials, from the materials for their jewelry right down to the eco-friendly recycled paper bags they use for shipping.
Best for: Gorgeous jewelry that’s both a bit unique and quirky
Sustainable because: All materials used at SiiZu are eco-friendly and 100% natural. They donate 10% of all profits to environmental organizations
Prices start around: $20
Washed Ashore is an affordable ethical jewelry brand that understands how healing mother nature can be. But as much as Nature heals us, we must heal her, too. That’s why all of their jewelry is made with 100% recycled gold and silver. They also snap up misshapen pearls that are rejected by the mainstream jewelry industry and make sure they get used in their fabulous designs.
Best for: Timeless pieces of jewelry that are connected to nature
Sustainable because: The brand has selected one supplier, in order to ensure all its recycled metals are traceable. You can shop with confidence since all the suppliers and manufacturers were audited prior to their partnership with Washed Ashore to be sure that sustainable practices are maintained through all aspects of the business.
Prices start around: $40
The Little Market provides a stunning selection of clothing, home goods, and of course, affordable ethical jewelry. Whether you’re looking for a tiny pendant, a dainty necklace or a pair of hoops, all of their items are ethically made in Cambodia, using traditional techniques.
The brand was co-founded by none other than American TV personality, Lauren Conrad. Aiming to instil change, she also formed The Little Market Council. This is comprised of over 70 strong, passionate and fearless women. Feminists, entrepreneurs, human rights experts and influential leaders all give their time and talents to make The Little Market the successful non-profit it is.
It ensures the female artisans who make the stuff not only receive a fair wage, but also have additional access to skills training and education, opening up both their world and options. Everything about this brand is beautiful, from the jewelry to their ethos!
Best for: Delicate, pretty jewelry that helps women
Sustainable because: The Little Market is both nonprofit and fair trade, ethically made by artisans. The brand uses conflict-free materials and also gives back to the planet
Prices start around: $22
When it comes to affordable ethical jewelry, Ten Thousand Villages is a pioneer. They have 75 years of practising fair trade in their business. Ten Thousand Villages has worked tirelessly to ignite change, putting both people and the planet first. How so? Well, each purchase you make directly impacts the life and community of its maker in a developing country.
From wooden Guatemalan earrings and Peruvian silver rings, to tiny gold Indian pendants, all pieces are made by small, independent, small-scale artisans using local materials and artisan crafts that are steeped in history and tradition.
Best for: Buying handmade gifts from around the world that you can feel good about
Sustainable because: Not only is their jewelry artisan-made, but all materials and responsibly sourced and sustainable. They’re also a member of the Fair Trade Federation
Prices start around: $4.99. Yes, really!
10. Made Trade
Made Trade is a sustainable online shop that strongly believes one thing. That is: you can choose the world you want to live in by the way you spend your cash. They put fair wages above profit, sustainability over mass production, and transparency above everything they sell. And they sell a lot of stuff!
Here, not only will you find affordable ethical jewelry, but also home goods, clothing, and more.
Best for: Architectural, artistic styles
Sustainable because: Each item is ethically made, responsibly sources and handcrafted using sustainable materials, and the makers and artisans are paid fair wages
Prices start around: $16
Did we miss any of your favourite affordable ethical jewelry brands? Let us know in the comments below!