By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Van Cleef & Arpels. Tiffany’s. Bulgari. All beautiful, all coveted, all exquisitely luxurious. But few indeed of the best known jewellery brands are ethical.
What do I mean by that? In short, raw materials must not only be derived from sustainable production sources, but also assembled from fairly paid labour – it’s a tall order for many bijoux brands, given that they rely on one of the world’s dirtiest industries for their base metals and gems – mining.
Fortunately, the tide is turning, and a new generation of designers is choosing to use fair mined, ethically sourced or recycled gems and metals to create sumptuous ethical fine jewellery brands worthy of (and indeed, worn by) royalty. Here’s our selection of some of the créme de la créme.
This poetic and elegant Italian brand is rooted in a family tradition of jewellery making. Their trademark is an ode to nature – they encapsulate real leaves, seed and other natural elements in precious metals such as reclaimed gold, silver and copper, immortalising the paradoxical fragility and eternal strength of nature in accessories that are sure conversation starters.
2. Luca Jouel
These designs from Down Under come out on top of the ethical fine jewellery list! Luca Jouel is an Aussie fine jewellery label for lovers of craftsmanship – each piece is ethically made and responsibly sourced by gemologist Tereena Lucas, the founder of the brand. Lucas works with a dedicated team of master artisans from her studio in Perth, where she explores texture, natural beauty, sustainability and unique style with a variety of bijoux made with sapphires, spinels, tourmalines, white diamonds and platinum and yellow gold.
3. Pippa Small
This renowned designer is a pioneer in ethical fine jewellery. In fact, she worked with the world’s first registered Fair Trade gold mine in Bolivia and with the esteemed Fair Trade company MADE based in Kibera, a slum in Nairobi. Pippa also works with the prestigious charity Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan where they are approaching their tenth year of collaboration and is now hoping this year to launch a project with Turquoise Mountain working with Syrian refugees.
This Los Angeles based brand embraces nature’s imperfections by using the cultured pearls that are cast aside by most fine jewellery brands. Instead of disregarding these nuggets, they hand make delicate pendants and bracelets out of them, showcasing their unique look and individual beauty.
Anna Loucah is a London-based goldsmith who creates luxurious and unique designs inspired by world journeys and mystical imagery. Anna abolishes all evil practices connected to the history of jewellery making by selecting each gem from trusted suppliers and supporting Fair Trade and Fairmined raw material suppliers. A new project, in collaboration with sustainable bridal designer Leila Hafzi and Fashion Revolution coordinator Jocelyn Whipple, is aimed at raising awareness of environmental and social progress, and includes a a precious metal pendant featuring a gilded seed from the Bhodi tree, used in meditative and Buddhist practices. Over half of every sale will be donated directly to Fashion Revolution.
A former Facets PR account manager, Natalie Ball decided to take the leap into jewellery making. Her ethical fine jewellery label makes artistically crafted bijoux using Fair Trade gold and recycled silver. Each design is inspired by the experiences Natalie has collected on her travels. Natalie is one of the 6 up-and-coming designers to have been selected by the National Association of Jewellers to showcase their jewellery at IJL 2018 on a group stand in the prestigious Design Gallery.
Using recycled metals, cultured pearls and age-old techniques, Melissa Joy Manning’s exquisite creations have been inspired by the designer’s love of travel, art and learning about different global cultures. Based in California, her work is now globally recognised and sold at high-end shops around the world.
8. Lark & Berry
Made for women, by women, Lark & Berry’s modern designs feature what we consider to be the only ethical kind of diamonds around: lab-grown stones. These diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from the ‘real’ ones that blast holes in the earth to mine them. Cultured diamonds are just as brilliant and gorgeous as natural ones, especially when they’re in settings as stunning as those dreamed up by Lark & Berry.
Using only ethically sourced gems to create delicate, minimalist jewellery for the modern woman, this ethical fine jewellery label was founded by Sydney-based duo Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki. With respective backgrounds in design and goldsmithing, they duo say they’re drawn to “the beauty in modern simplicity”.
10. Hockley Mint
Hockley Mint is a British brand that was founded in 1953 in Birmingham, with the intent to make pieces of fine design and to advocate for responsible mining and manufacturing. The brand continues to abide by its uplifting mission, and launched the Fairtrade Ambassador Scheme in 2016 to encourage retailers to stock, promote and sell Fairtrade gold jewellery.
11. Arabel Lebrusan
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