Shopping for Ethical Jewellery
We’ve pulled together this Ethical Jewellery guide for you – covering ethical and sustainable jewellery shopping. Great timing right – as we rapidly approach Valentine’s Day. Which, incidentally, we are happy to rebrand as ‘Palentine’s Day, or Galentine’s Day’.
Whatever you call it, if you are considering purchasing jewellery as a gift, now’s the time to consider the origin of that jewellery.
Ah Valentine’s Day, do you celebrate it or not? We tend to mark the day in a rather understated fashion these days. But, we do exchange gifts. We admit that we love a beautiful piece of ethical jewellery as a gift.
But tend to choose pieces with a bit of a story to them. So, maybe a handmade piece, statement or vintage jewellery, or something new and small, made from recycled silver or gold. Like this (above) pretty handmade ethical jewellery from Artus Jewellery on over on etsy.
Valentine’s Day is a time when many people treat a loved one to a beautiful item of jewellery. But are shoppers aware of the ethics of the jewellery brands they are buying from?
Raw ‘virgin’ materials
One of the most challenging aspects of Jewellery is where the virgin raw materials come from – are the workers treated fairly? How are the materials mined? How far have materials travelled?
Supply chains are often incredibly complex, and it is often hard to trace the origins of materials. There are so many questions we have on this subject. Unfortunately too many to attempt to find answers to in this article. If you’d like to research and write a more indepth guest post for us, please get in touch!
Ethical Jewellery Shopping
It is important to remember that many of the poorest communities in the world rely on providing their precious minerals for jewellery making. This put simply means, ensuring raw materials have come from a fair source is vital. No
But, how can we do that? Founded in 2005, The Responsible Jewellery Council is an organisation keen to become the recognised standard and certification organisation for supply chain integrity and sustainability in the global, ethical jewellery and watch industry. Ensuring that Jewellery is fair, via an industry standard I think is essential.
Certified Fairtrade – if you’re looking for the ultimate ethical engagement ring – do check out Arabel Lebrusán, Award Winning Jewellery Designer.
Were you aware that Fairtrade gold exists? Fairtrade gold ensures workers and the environment are protected. Also, miners are paid a fair share.
There are 70 brands and 200 designers licensed to use Fairtrade gold currently.
They are audited annually in order to continue to use the Fairtrade Gold stamp.
Harriet Kelsall Fairtrade jewellery is well worth considering whatever the occasion you are shopping for.
With some stunning designs such as this ‘lockdown love pendant’ and the possibility to have a unique item made too.
Feel Good Ethical Jewellery
Pivot are a social enterprise working to create part-time, meaningful employment for homeless people. Makers are supported to learn to design, and make jewellery which is sold online, or in pop-up shops.
Materials such as acetate is donated to Pivot by spectacles company Cubitts. Pivot’s team use a band saw to slice it and then drill holes before they are filed by hand and turned into earrings, and these glasses chains.
Unique designs created by a whole host of designers, but, knowing that you will be helping a homeless person is perhaps the best thing. Getting them one step closer to moving out of a hostel, and finding a permanent home.
Have you ever considered buying jewellery made from recycled materials? Environmentally, recycling is very good – reusing what would otherwise be wasted. Giving new life to an old item. But, it isn’t always something we associate with jewellery.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth we discovered over on Instagram. Actually, a friend recommended them to us after being given a pair of their earrings! Hoops of recycled silver and brass, simple, stylish.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth’s Nicole Snepp uses recycled, or eco- silver to create the jewellery. Their designs are timeless, and could be worn with any outfits. We are especially keen on the Lotus Collection, partially due to the symbolism. In the muddiest of waters, Lotus flowers blossom.
Upcyling old family jewellery
Perhaps you have inherited jewellery from a relative, sentimental but just not wearing it? Have you considered having it re-made into something amazing that you just can’t stop staring at?
Eleanor Christine has a studio in Frome Somerset where she does just this. Stunning Ethical Jewellery work!
Recycle Your Electricals
It’s estimated around 95 tonnes of gold, silver and palladium – equivalent to £857 million – could be recycled from unwanted electricals each year.
Not-for-profit organisation Material Focus teamed up with sustainable jewellers Lylie’s to create the rings modelled here by Lily Cole, as part of their Recycle Your Electricals campaign. Their jewellery is crafted from Salvaged Gold and Salvaged Silver, 100% recycled from e-waste, dental waste and their scrap exchange service.
Who made my jewellery?
You’ve heard of the phrase #WhoMadeMyClothes? How about your jewellery?
Just Trade is a design-led accessories brand built around the interests of the people who make their products.
Just Trade are members of BAFTS – Fair Trade Network UK and founded by jewellery designer Laura Cave.
Working in collaboration with makers in Peru, Ecuador, India and Vietnam, Just Trade believe in a trading economy that prioritises producers, communities and the environment.
Fore Street, Exeter is the home of sustainable lifestyle store SANCHOS – Part of Sancho’s Elemental Jewellery Range – made exclusively for Sancho’s by Just Trade – made from Re-purposed Brass material.
Meet the maker
It’s always interesting to find out about the makers – and I very much enjoyed reading about Lines and Current designer Rebekah Johanson’s journey here.
They work very closely with their silversmith Jackie in Guangzhou. With his team of six others, they hand make each of Rebekah’s designs from 925 sterling silver.
Lines and Current also donate 10% of all profits and since the start of their work with SOS Children’s Villages, they’ve sent 64 African kids to school for year. Their donation has covered the cost of tuition, books and transport from 2017-2019. Brillian combination of combating poverty with education.
Diamonds and Pearls
We’ve been reading with interest about the ‘sky diamond‘ – A plan to create lab-grown diamonds – environmentalist Dale Vince talks of making these carbon-negative, laboratory-grown diamonds “made entirely from the sky”.
Dale Vince, the founder of green energy supplier Ecotricity, is working on the development of the world’s only cloud-sourced diamonds, to be made from carbon, water and energy sourced directly from the elements at a “sky mining facility” in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Further afield, meanwhile in New York
Aurate began by only using 100% recycled gold. Gold is an amazing resource, with the flexibility to be repeatedly reused without diminishing in quality and without creating any environmental decay.
Aurate take the same approach with their diamonds and precious gems. They track every single one from mine to workshop, strictly adhering to the Kimberly Process* and additionally insisting that our mines have acceptable working conditions, offer fair pay, and respect local indigenous communities.
Their pearls are sustainably farmed and sensitively harvested to ensure the wellbeing and biodiversity of the marine environment.
Each of their jewellery pieces is designed and handmade using ethically sourced and sustainably made 14K gold, 18K gold, and 14K gold-plated vermeil.
Before lockdown, charity shops provided a wonderful place to find costume jewellery. Sometimes we all need a statement necklace.
With charity shops currently closed, remember many have online stores too. Online shopping may not be quite the same as a mooch around the shop. But, you might be surprised with what you find! Plus, you are supporting a good cause, reducing landfill and saving money too.
Many charity shops use eBay as a store front. You will lose several hours looking at all the jewellery! Oxfam has pre-loved jewellery online via their own Oxfam website. And also ethically sourced ‘new’ collection on their ‘sourced by Oxfam’ page here.
This Valentine’s / Palentine’s / Galentine’s day remember, if you’re shopping for yourself, or a loved one, stop. Take a moment to consider what you are buying. Choose with care, with love – it is Valentine’s Day after all.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to Ethical Jewellery shopping from Ali at @incredibusy – from upcycled precious metals, to Fairtrade gold & ‘sky diamond’ production – please comment below to share more makers with us!
Find Ali over on instagram here
Reference and useful links:
The Kimberley Process https://www.kimberleyprocess.com/
Lab grown diamonds, Dale Vince https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/30/ecotricity-founder-to-grow-diamonds-made-entirely-from-the-sky
More on the Recycle Your Electricals campaign over on My Green Pod https://www.mygreenpod.com/articles/five-gold-rings/