You don’t need a special occasion to treat yourself to one of these handmade ethical jewelry pieces!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day. Christmas. It seems there’s always a time when gifting handmade ethical jewelry pieces is a good idea. But you don’t need to wait for a special day or an engagement to enjoy a beautiful gem!
There are loads of stunning, ethical jewelry brands that are fully focused on sourcing only the most ecologically friendly materials, while paying fair wages to all workers in their supply chain. These conscious brands make gifting jewelry guilt free – whether the gift is to someone you love, or to yourself!
But the company you choose to buy from is important. In an age of heavy greenwashing, you need to know which brands are truly using GIA Certified Diamonds, recycled metals or sustainably sourced gems. We also love lab-grown diamonds. These are a sure way of knowing that no child labor or earth-destroying practices were involved in making a gorgeous sparkler!
Handmade is also an important component. Increasingly, companies are using machines to create not only jewelry, but clothing, too. What that means is a loss of jobs, and if you ask me, a loss of ‘soul’. There’s just nothing loving or personal about anything made by a machine – my opinion, of course!
Here below, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite handmade jewelry pieces from brands that do incredible work, be it trying to end poverty through protecting traditional crafting techniques, or sourcing recycled or fair-mined metals.
Handmade Ethical Jewelry Pieces For All Occasions
This ethical jewellery rebels against fast and disposable fashion in favour of top-quality style that lasts. Each unique item is handmade in England from eco-silver and Fair-trade gold. Much of designer Loren’s inspiration comes from her extensive work alongside goldsmiths in Asia and Africa. As a result, her designs are modern, bold and imbued in cultural traditions and meaning.
While we adore her statement earrings, her impressive cuffs, above, and kick-ass rings, in our main image, are also on our wish list!
Best for: Those who love bold jewelry with an ethnic touch
SOKO works with artisan entrepreneurs, in Kenya. The brand helps them to build their businesses, improve production capacity, and sustainably increase income by receiving access to markets and Fair Trade wages.
Their ethical handmade jewelry collections include loads of minimalistic but luxurious designs: bracelets, rings, and necklaces. But our pick would be their chunky gold rings, which are also stunning when stacked.
Best for: Those who have an artistic yet Boho style.
This brand was was founded by Sydney-based duo Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki. With respective backgrounds in design and goldsmithing, they normally create elegant, minimalist pieces made from fair-mined 14-karat gold and ethically sourced gems.
But for us, this handcrafted ring really stands out. It features five Australian sustainably sourced opals, which are some of the rarest and most coveted stones in the world. Opals have always been associated with magic. For example, the opal was thought to make a person invisible whenever he wished, and for that reason, it was called Patronus forum (patron of thieves). It was also believed to have a strong therapeutic value for diseases of the eye, and when worn as an amulet, it could make the wearer immune from disease, as well as increase the powers of the eyes and the mind.
This beautiful, magical ring has a slim band, so you can easily stack it with other styles.
Best for: Some witchy beauty at your fingertips
Got someone in your life who has the key to your heart? This is one of the most perfect handmade ethical jewelry pieces to give them!
Cast in the shape of a wee key, Catbird’s tiny gold charm was handmade in Brooklyn by a highly skilled artisan. In fact, Catbird employs over 100 artisans in their Brooklyn studio, where every piece of jewelry is made by hand. Of course, the label supports the living wage and its local community by contributing 1% of its annual sales to nearby charitable initiatives. No wonder the brand has established a cult following, with celebrity fans including Emma Watson and Michelle Williams.
Best for: Making a beautiful statement about who has really entered your heart!
Artisanal jewelry creator and designer Melissa Joy Manning holds herself to high standards when it comes to quality of material and design. She uses almost exclusively recycled metals and responsibly sourced gemstones, so you can feel good about investing in the brand’s pieces.
One of our pics for the best handmade ethical jewelry pieces is her dainty bracelets. They’re all created from recycled 14-karat gold and are strung with a single diamond that sparkles from every angle. Gorgeous alone, and even more beautiful when paired with other bracelets!
Best for: Stacking with other bracelets and bangles.
Looking for ethical handmade jewelry that aims to mimic nature? Look no further! Ole Lynggaard makes many pieces that are inspired by plants, flowers, snowflakes and other natural forms.
For example? Their ‘Shooting Stars’ earrings are a firm favourite. They have been crafted by hand by the label’s goldsmiths in the brand’s Danish atelier. Consisting of two separate and detachable pieces, these are cast from 18-karat gold and set with an array of colorful stones, including tourmaline, lapis lazuli and moonstones.
The family-owned brand remains deeply rooted in its Scandinavian values, and is run by the father-daughter duo Charlotte and Ole Lynggaard.
Best for: A touch of biophilia in your jewelry box
This synthetic diamond company is fully transparent in every way imaginable. Sure, their sparklers may be made by machines, but every other step is done with love, by humans.
All of their rings, bracelets, earrings and other pieces are handmade in their European ateliers. Every item is carefully inspected for perfection by their in-house quality control to ensure the best possible brilliance. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, you can seriously trust the reputation Idle has for sustainability. No wonder this is a favourite jewelry brand of celebrities like Jessica Alba!
Best for: Engagements, or any other occasion that can be commemorated with a diamond.
These stackable bracelets were handmade with the intention of allowing wearers to target their bodies’ energy centres. The bracelet features seven perfect crystals, each aimed at healing and activating your body’s chakras.
It’s grounded with black agate, which is also known to help physically with bones. Black agate also attracts good fortune, increases concentration and clarity, promotes good will, as well as aiding in overcoming flaws, fears, and loneliness.
And the best part? Every purchase helps supply and distribute Vitamin A to Indian children in desperate need! Good karma indeed.
Best for: Yogis on a budget – this bracelet is under $30.
London based jeweler Pippa Small has distinguished herself for her ethical designs, which are born from collaborations with artisans from all over the world. Her latest handmade piece is a true delight! It’s a pair of Jellyfish Earrings that were made using several small, ethically sourced stones: poppy red rubies, peony pink sapphires, tourmalines and cheerful orange carnelian.
Best for: Wearing colours that create a warm and life-affirming tone.
Ishkar is a social enterprise that supports craftsmanship in wartorn countries. The company uses well known designers like Pippa Small and Hattie Rickard to create economic opportunities for craftsmen in countries that have been largely cut off from international markets by conflict and insecurity.
The Oculus Ring, for instance, was designed by Hattie Rickard and crafted by Mehdi Ansar, an Afghan refugee in Iran who started working in a car repair shop, and today leads a team of seven jewellers.
While twiddling this ring around your finger, remember that you have contributed to supporting Afghan artisans by providing them with technical training and business support.
Best for: A touch of Middle Eastern art on at your fingertips