Why buy accessories from polluting companies when there are so many sustainable fine jewelry brands?
If you love luxury jewelry and have high ethical standards, you may have a heck of a time finding stunning accessories that don’t hurt the earth and its people. Due to nasty mining practices and dirty politics, it’s pretty clear that even some ‘certified’ diamonds might NOT be a girl’s best friend.
Moreover, gold mining is one of the most polluting of the extractive industries’ activities. And some coloured gems, like emeralds and rubies, are just as bad as ‘blood diamonds.’ Why? Because corrupt regimes or drug traffickers often trade them for arms.
Sure, there’s a lot of creative and ethical costume jewelry out there. But what to do if it’s haute joaillerie that you’re after?
Luckily, we’ve found 10 amazingly sustainable fine jewelry brands perfect for luxury lovers with a conscience. All of these also make great investment pieces that can be passed down through the generations.
Sustainable Fine Jewelry Brands With Fine Ethics
Since launching one of the sweetest sustainable fine jewelry brands, Rony Vardi and Leigh Plessner’s Catbird label has established a cult following. Fans include celebrities like Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and Bella Hadid.
Catbird’s handmade earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings are made by artisans in their Brooklyn studio. There, they design and craft every piece of jewelry with sustainably sourced materials. Like what, you ask? Well, recycled metals, sustainably sourced gemstones, and even recycled diamonds.
But there’s more! Catbird supports the living wage and its local community by contributing 1% of its annual sales to nearby charitable initiatives.
Core ethics: Giving back to various charities, sustainably sourced materials, recycled materials
Best for: Engagement rings, dainty bracelets
2. Lark & Berry
Love pretty, shiny things, but hate environmental destruction and human exploitation? Well, the founders of Lark & Berry feel the same! That’s why they created a fine jewelry label they knew would always be ethical. Because they create the stones they use themselves! In a lab, of course.
Their cultured diamonds and colored gemstones have the exact same chemical structure of a mined stone. They are created in the same way the earth creates gems, through heat and pressure. And they’re so perfect, not even most trained experts can tell the difference!
These 100% conflict free diamonds and gemstones are then placed into stunning settings with modern designs. What’s not to love?
Core ethics: Lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, bespoke engagement rings
Best for: Bespoke engagement rings, colorful fine jewelry
Melissa Joy Manning’s design process starts with laying out an assortment of raw-cut, ethically-sourced stones in her studio and seeing what combinations speak to her. She then hand-casts molds to make the piece her muse dictates.
Her materials include recycled silver and 14-karat gold, as well as sustainably mined gemstones and crystals. We’d describe her unique style as ‘understated Bohemian.’
Core ethics: Recycled metals and organic stones crafted by hand
Best for: Chunky, artistic, ethical fine jewelry
4. Pippa Small
Of all the sustainable fine jewelry brands, this is probably the one that cares most about people. Pippa Small hires fairly waged artisans in Rajasthan, India, to make her pieces. She is committed to not only providing long-term job opportunities to locals by working with artisan collectives across India, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bolivia, but also preserving traditional craft techniques.
Her jewelry is full of symbolism, and often draws inspiration from ancient Asian symbols, Buddhist iconography, and the beauty of South East Asia.
Core ethics: Giving back to artisans in the developing world
Best for: Organic shapes and styles with an ethnic touch
Seattle based brand Aide-Mémoire Jewelry have recently launched their Sculpted Collection, which fuses together reclaimed gold with lab-grown gemstones. These have a much smaller social and environmental footprint than mined stones.
Their sculpted pieces include everything from dainty pendants to statement rings, and the brand fits nicely into the space between lavishly expensive jewelry and mass-produced costume accessories. Each handmade item caters to those looking for ethically and environmentally sustainable jewelry that will last for years to come.
Core ethics: Lab-grown stones, reclaimed metals, promotes diversity by hiring people in the LGBTQ+ and women-run business communities.
Best for: Irregular, organically shaped ethical fine jewelry
This Los Angeles based sustainable fine jewelry brand does something few others do. Namely, they embrace nature’s imperfections by using the cultured pearls that are cast aside by most fine jewelry brands.
Instead of disregarding these tiny nuggets, they hand make delicate pendants and bracelets out of them, showcasing their unique look and individual beauty on ethically sourced gold.
Washed Ashore believe that objects carry energy – especially stones and crystals. For that reason, the origins of their raw materials and how their jewelers are treated and paid are of utmost importance to the integrity of the brand.
Core ethics: Using pearls cast aside by other fine jewelry brands, Fairtrade certified gold
Best for: Dainty, feminine accessories
Her gemstones may be opaque, but Wwake’s Designer Wing Yau’s design process is totally transparent! She believes it’s vital to know all the hands the brand’s components pass through before she finally assembles them into her ethical fine jewelry line.
For this reason, she uses Fairmined and recycled gold. She also works closely with the mines the stones are sourced from, and the artisans that shape and cut each one. Aiming to offer “a new perspective on heirloom jewelry” Yau’s signature pieces are incredibly delicate and beautiful.
Core ethics: Transparent supply chain, recycled and certified metals
Best for: Understated luxury
This ethical fine jewelry label is the brainchild of Sydney-based duo Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki. They use only consciously-sourced gems to create delicate, minimalist accessories for the modern woman,
With respective backgrounds in design and goldsmithing, they duo say they’re drawn to “the beauty in modern simplicity”. All of their metals are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) for meeting the ethical, human rights, social and environmental standards as established by the RJC’s Certification System.
Core ethics: RJC certified metals
Best for: Elegant, timeless designs
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