Your Guide To Sustainable Jewellery
Yes, even jewellery can — and should — be sustainable. Read on for what sustainable jewellery is and for some of the ethical brands that we’re loving.
When we think of shopping sustainably, jewellery may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But in reality, it’s something we should all be thinking of whenever birthdays and special occasions roll around. So what is sustainable jewellery, why is it necessary, and where can you find it?
What is sustainable jewellery?
Sustainable jewellery is jewellery that is produced without negatively impacting either people or the planet. This means it uses materials are that are sustainable, either being recycled or produced ethically — i.e fair trade, conflict-free, free from child labour. Typically, this rules out a lot of gemstones and diamonds. Gemstones are unsustainable as they are by definition a limited resource (hence why they are precious) and they damage the environment in trying to source them. Ten years ago, the average diamond in an engagement ring required the removal of 200 million to 400 million times its volume in rock, as reported in Slate. This results in acid rock drainage, can change the PH levels in nearby waterways and threatens biodiversity in the area.
When we talk about ethical and sustainable practices, it’s also easy to forget that this means protecting the welfare of people as much as the planet. The diamond trade is notorious for instigating conflict, abuse, exploitation and casualties — hence the term blood diamond, popularized by the 2006 film of the same name. As a result, sustainable gemstones are those that are either mined while compensating and protecting workers properly while significantly lowering the carbon footprint of mining, or they are actually lab-grown.
So what are lab grown diamonds?
Lab grown diamonds are gems that are man made to replicate the process of diamond formation, but within a lab. There is often confusion as to whether or not they are real diamonds, but the answer is yes — they are the exact same chemical composition as mined diamonds, and are definitely real. They are, however, much more sustainable, with a shorter supply chain, and ultimately greater transparency.
Where to find sustainable jewellery
Sustainable jewellery can therefore be vintage gemstones and pieces, as these are effectively being recycled, or it can be new pieces but using sustainable materials. If you’re looking for vintage jewellery, eBay or Etsy are great places to find antiques. But if you’re looking for newer pieces, here are some of the brands making it their mission to get you looking stylish sustainably.
Yala jewellery is on our wishlist for every gifting opportunity, and when you see their beautiful designs you’ll completely understand why. The brand sells modern recycled jewellery that is handcrafted with a range of delicate pieces like these hammered medallion earrings, and bright statement pieces like this sun and moon necklace. It’s a B-Corp, black-owned, female-led business and an exemplary model of how fashion can act as a force for good. With the workshops based in Kenya, the company employs local women and trains them as artisan jewellery makers, creating a hugely positive impact on the local community.
Shyla creates effortlessly chic designs in London using recycled gold and silver in their beautiful pieces. Describing themselves as morally motivated, Shyla prides itself on modern cuts and dainty pieces of jewellery, supporting charities in India working towards teaching women in rural communities the craft of jewellery making.
Meaning ‘True’ in French, Vrai creates beautiful, timeless jewellery using lab grown diamonds. Their jewellery has no carbon footprint and is ethically created, diamonds are cut and polished to a range of styles for a classic finish. Vrai is especially great for engagement and wedding rings for those who are looking for their perfectly sustainable ring.
By Toni Olukiran
Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.