Costume Jewellery Jewellery

Cleaner Than Diamonds: Sustainable Crystals

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Despite the initiation of the Kimberley process, purchasing diamonds ethically is still extremely difficult to do, not only for the environmental issues connected to the mining process, but also because it seems that Kimberley’s transparency isn’t as clear as was once thought. Conscious lovers of these brilliant stones are now turning to vintage diamonds for their lifetime pieces, but for some everyday glitz, there’s a simple alternative that’s guaranteed to be conflict free: crystals! And the most famous brand in this arena also turns out to be one of the most eco-friendly: Swarovski.


This Austrian brand dates all the way back to 1895 and throughout family-run history spanning five generations, it has dressed some of the world’s most renowned divas, many of whom have worn these crystals on the big screen: think Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus, Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and of course, Audrey Hepburn’s tiara in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example.


The brand’s history with celebrity also extends to the realm of pop: Madonna can boast almost a decade of glittering collaborations with Costume Designer Arianne Phillips, who has created several tour outfits using Swarovski crystals to add a touch of magic to Mrs Ciccone’s shows. Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Beyonce and just about any A-list singer has surely got a few gowns in her wardrobe decked out with some Swarovski crystals. For several years now, eco-conscious model Miranda Kerr has been the face of the brand’s jewellery collections.


What makes these crystals stand out is that they utterly comply to sustainable standards. Daniel Swarovski himself says: “supporting social and environmental projects is the obligation of any responsible company,” and to demonstrate this responsibility, Swarovski now employs what they call the Advanced Crystal Standard. This was the result of 12 years of intensive research and has raised the bar of ethical standards in both the jewellery and lighting branches of the brand.


The New DNA of Swarovski crystal is obtained through conscientiously selected raw materials which contain 0.009 % lead or less. Their composition complies with all current laws, of course, but also goes far beyond: Advanced Crystal meets the highest quality “Ultra Clear” criteria, according to the ISO IWA08 classification of crystal glass. Advanced Crystal has also been praised by the Fraunhofer Institute, which tested the composition and confirmed its eco-friendliness. 


Seeing that there is no guaranteed criteria in selecting gems that are bloodless, a good ethical alternative to twinkling mined bijoux seems to come from laboratories. And if technology is capable of creating sustainable crystals that shine just like diamonds, who knows what’s next? 

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