Why buy accessories from polluting companies when there are so many lovely sustainable fine jewelry brands?
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
If you love jewelry and have high ethical standards, you may have a heck of a time finding stunning jewels that don’t hurt the earth and its people. Due to nasty mining practices and dirty politics, it’s pretty clear that even ‘certified’ diamonds can NOT be a girl’s best friend. 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’ since they’re often traded by corrupt regimes or drug traffickers 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, that also make great investment pieces that can be passed down through the generations.
10 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, with fans including celebrities like Emma Watson and Michelle Williams. Their handmade earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings are made by artisans in their Brooklyn studio, where they design and craft every piece of jewelry with sustainably sourced materials.
And there’s more: Catbird supports the living wage and its local community by contributing 1% of its annual sales to nearby charitable initiatives.
Melissa Joy Manning’s design process starts with laying out an assortment of raw-cut, 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 sourced gemstones and crystals, and her style could best be described as ‘understated Bohemian.’
3. Leigh Miller
What’s more sustainable than metal or gems? Glass! And Leigh Miller uses plenty of it in her ethical fine jewelry. All of her collections are locally made in Los Angeles by fairly paid artisans, and she uses the ancient tradition of lost-wax casting to create each piece before hand-hammering them into unique and organic forms.
Arabel Lebrusan honours European history in her creations, since the expert hands of Spanish craftsmen forge her signature filigree patterns, some of which date back to the ancient Greeks. Using specialist hand engraving tools and with years of experience behind them, her artisans forge engagement rings, necklaces, bracelets and bangles using Fairtrade and Fairmined ecological gold, as well as Fair Trade, ethical gemstones.
The beauty of her creations is fit for royalty – no wonder Queen Letizia was spotted wearing one of her jewels!
Jewellery to believe in is the concept behind this brand, which gathers the talents of British designers who create modern pieces that tribute our planet. Their silver is either recycled or Fairtrade, in order to protect those workers who struggle to scrape a living from artisanal mining.
As for female empowerment, you can rest assured that a Mosami purchase will aid women who are building businesses in developing countries – a percentage of each sale is donated to such women’s collectives.
This sustainable jewellery brand stands as an emblem for clarity of the soul. Elegantly designed, each piece is luxuriously crafted from ethically sourced materials such as recycled silver. Sacet is also aiming to become the first 100% carbon neutral jewellery-making workshop by installing solar panels to power a large portion of its workshop with solar energy. Furthermore, since more than 1.3 billion people in the world still live in extreme poverty, Sacet aims to change this by donating a percentage of profits back to Sacet’s craftspeople to improve their skills, healthcare and children’s education.
7. Pippa Small
Of all the sustainable fine jewelry brands, this is probably the one that cares most about people, since she hires fairly waged artisans in Rajasthan, India, to make her pieces. Pippa Small is committed to not only providing long-term job opportunities to locals by working with artisan collectives across India, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bolivia, but is also concerned with preserving traditional craft techniques. She often draws inspiration from ancient Asian symbols, Buddhist iconography, and the beauty of South East Asia when creating each of her memorable designs.
Seattle based brand Aide-Mémoire Jewelry have recently launched their Sculpted Collection, which fuses together reclaimed gold jewellery with lab-grown diamonds. Also called ‘synthetic diamonds’, these have a much smaller social and environmental footprint than mined diamonds.
Their sculpted pieces include everything from dainty pendants to statement rings, and the brand fits nicely in the space between lavishly expensive jewelry and mass-produced costume accessories. Each item is made by hand and caters to those looking for ethically and environmentally sustainable jewellery that will last for years to come.
9. Bliss Lau
Ethical jewellery designer Bliss Lau believes strongly that jewellery should be a physical experience, inspired by sensuality and structure. Bliss elegantly juxtaposes dichotomous relationships – bold and delicate, bound and free, organic and linear – and embraces the interplay between them to create both fluid and kinetic forms. Throughout the evolution of her career, she’s collaborated with several other talents, such as SeeMe, the jewellery brand. The resulting partnership produced gorgeous body chains, below, that completely transform everyday outfits into hyper chic fashion statements.
10. Lark & Berry
Founders love pretty, shiny things, but hate environmental destruction and human exploitation, so they created a fine jewellery label called Lark & Berry that they knew would always be ethical – because they create the stones they use themselves – in a lab.
Their cultured diamonds have the exact same chemical structure of a mined diamond, and are created in the same way the earth creates the stones, through heat and pressure. Not even most trained experts can tell the difference – but you can rest assured lab-created diamonds are 100% conflict free.
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