Sustainable Jewelry Brands

13 Sustainable & Ethical Jewelry Brands

When you purchase a stunning piece of jewelry for yourself or a loved one, do you ever stop to think how much it is truly worth? Like everything in the fashion industry, jewelry costs more than the price tag says. While gems and stones can be extracted from the ground using labor in far less than ethical conditions. Sustainable jewelry brands are a necessity if we want to wear jewelry and protect the planet. 

Unfortunately, the less ethical jewelry brands can cause harm to the environment as a result of mining or sourcing raw materials. Below we explore what sustainable jewelry means, why it’s important, and highlight 13 brands worthy of your click. 

Why should you care about ethical jewelry?

Social impact

The jewelry industry has far-reaching impacts on people and the environment. The larger percentage of jewelry production materials originate from some of the poorest countries. Oftentimes, these regions lack the structures to deal directly with the global market in a sustainable way. So, the raw materials go through many hands before reaching the consumer; meaning traceability is almost impossible, and so is accountability. A lot of miners and artisans may not even earn a living wage.

Mining has also caused disruptions in many host communities leading to conflicts1. The diamond industry is notorious for its blood or conflict diamonds. At the same time, gem cutting releases dust that can cause severe damage to the lungs. Workers in gem polishing factories risk their health and well-being when working in such an environment without protection. 

Environmental impact

Typically, fine jewelry is made with at least one precious metal or stone sourced from deep within the ground—mining results in a change in soil structure and land use which may cause severe environmental damage. Negative impacts of mining include deforestation, erosion, dust pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, soil and water contamination. It also causes harm to the ecosystem of concerned areas.

Jewelry production may also use harmful chemicals that end up as toxic waste. This poses a threat to humans and wildlife.

Benefits of sustainability in the jewelry industry

All the negative issues associated with mining and jewelry production do not erase the benefits. Small scale and artisanal mining are the livelihood source for at least 100 million people worldwide. In properly managed situations, mining can boost local economies. Some sustainable jewelry brands empower artisan groups with skills and tools to mine safely, ethically, and profitably.

Furthermore, recycled gems and precious metals, and lab diamonds are alternatives to newly mined metal. Jewelry companies that use a closed-loop production system produce less waste. At the same time, energy efficiency is also another quality that makes a jewelry company sustainable.

Some organizations look beyond the glitz and glamour of jewelry to ensure that they are safe for humans and the planet. Fair Trade and Fair Mined are organizations that support small-scale metal mining. They try to infuse sustainability into the process by supporting and training mining communities—other certifications to look out for include Responsible Jewelry Council, Ethical Metalsmiths, and Kimberley Process.

Where the issuing bodies have audited jewelry brands with any of these certificates, they have found them to meet his of traceability and social impact standards according to their specific criteria. 

13 sustainable jewelry brands with ethical production and sourcing

Below are some ethical jewelry brands with important information on their products and practices. The information we have provided covers the following major areas:

  • Who they design for
  • Product range
  • Ethical values
  • Store location and shipping options

Quick links to our list of the best sustainable jewelry brands

1. Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages Ethical Jewelry
Pictured "Circle Pendant Necklace" Credit: Ten Thousand Villages

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry, clothing, home accessories, stationery, and body care products
Ethical practices and values: women empowerment, charitable, Fair Trade Federation member, artisan investment model, eco-friendly materials
Store location and shipping: based in the US and ships only within the United States and Canada.

Ten thousand villages is a jewelry brand that is fighting global poverty, one piece at a time. Over the years, they have partnered with artisan co-ops in Nepal, Peru, Vietnam, Guatemala, India, and the Philippines. They have worked to empower women and disadvantaged regions. The brand’s maker to market supply model ensures fair pricing, and artisans get full payment before their crafts are exported.

The company encourages artisans to use energy-efficient processes, recycled and renewable materials, and locally sourced materials. This is vital in reducing the brand’s carbon footprint.

Shop Ten Thousand Villages

2. Vanessa Lianne

Vanessa Lianna Sustainable Jewelry
Pictured: "Kristin Ruby Cluster Studs" - Handmade to order using reclaimed diamonds. Photo Credit: Vanessa Lianne

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: locally manufactured, conflict-free gems, recycled metals, environmentally responsible
Store location and shipping: based in the US 

Vanessa Lianne’s sustainable jewelry is all handmade. She forges her exquisite heirloom quality pieces in her New York studio. Her collection includes earrings, wedding rings, signets, and necklaces.

She uses only recycled gold, recycled sterling silver, gold vermeil, and ethically sourced reclaimed gemstones. The silver sterling is entirely nickel-free, and all precious stones are Kimberley Process compliant. The brand’s founder ensures that all production processes and techniques are safe for humans and the environment. 

The company organizes the Wear your Mantra workshop to help customers do some soul searching. The mindfulness exercise aims to harness your inner strength and intentions and represent them with a symbol or word. They then carve this symbol into a custom signet ring that functions as a reminder of your inner strength at all times.

Shop Vanessa Lianne

3. Soko

Soko
Photo Credit: Soko

For: women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: recycled materials, B Corporation, charitable, artisan empowerment
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and ships internationally

The Soko brand is especially proud of its female leadership and people-centered operations. The brand leverages mobile technology to connect marginalized Kenyan artisans who are trapped in micro-economies with the global market. With the brand’s mobile app, dubbed a “virtual factory,” they receive orders that allow them to earn five times more than the average artisan.

Soko’s versatile pieces are made of wood, brass, ceramic beads, reclaimed bones, and horns. They get the wood from teak off-cuts of a Nairobi-based company, and they also use recycled brass plated with 24k gold or chrome. The ceramic beads are handcrafted by Kazuri, a women’s fair trade collective in Kenya. They source the materials for their horn and bones piece from local food industry waste. 

Soko puts in efforts to ensure that all their materials and products are environmentally ethical and sustainable.

Shop Soko

4. Bario Neal 

Bario Neal
Photo Credit: Bario Neal

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: Fairmined gold, eco-friendly packaging, traceable, fair labor
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and offers international shipping

The belief that everyone has the right to love whoever they want inspires Bario Neal’s designs. The company is committed to social and environmental justice and was one of the first jewelry brands to get the Fairmined label. 

They primarily use recycled metals and say it has helped them save 134,000 tons of newly mined metal so far. Going beyond conflict-free, the brand sources traceable and recycled diamonds.

Besides recycled and reclaimed metals, Bario Neal uses fair mined metals sourced from ethical small-scale miners. This way, they support artisanal and small mining operations that depend on mining for their livelihood. They extend this support to their company’s workers by providing a safe working environment and fair wages.

Bario Neal has shown support for the LGBTQIA community and advocates for the protection of their human rights. They package their jewelry in recycled paper boxes. Further, customers can special order porcelain boxes that make durable jewelry storage. 

Shop Bario Neal

5. Zoë Chicco

For: women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: locally made, recycled metals, conflict-free diamonds, fair wages, Kimberley Process compliant
Store location and shipping: based in the US and ships internationally except for Russia.

From their studio in Los Angeles,  Zoë Chicco produces handmade sustainable jewelry. Some of their designs are available for immediate purchase, but most pieces are made to order. The eponymous brand has fans even among celebrities and many social media influencers. Its design principles are based on sustainability through local manufacturing and personalization.

Zoë Chicco is one of the ethical jewelry brands that use recycled gold in 100% of their items. They only use ethically sourced gemstones that are conflict-free and adhere to the Kimberley Process. Their yellow and rose gold pieces are nickel-free. The white gold jewelry however is alloyed with nickel to give it a whitish look. 

The work environment at Zoë Chicco is vibrant, safe, and fair. The artisans are paid competitive wages and enjoy other fringe benefits.

Shop Zoe Chicco

6. Poppy Finch

Poppy Finch Sustainable Jewelry
Photo Credit: Poppy Finch

For: women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: locally manufactured, recycled gold, conflict-free diamonds
Store location and shipping: based in Canada and ships internationally

Poppy finch pearl earrings are luxurious, delicate jewelry pieces that make classy fashion statements. The brand’s signature designs are delicate gold, pearls, and precious gems.

Local artisans in Vancouver handcraft Poppy Finch’s jewelry pieces mainly using recycled gold and ethically sourced gemstones. 

75% of the brand’s gold is SCS certified, and they source ethical pearls from china and japan. They only procure diamonds from suppliers who adhere to the Kimberley Process to ensure conflict-free diamonds. Their gemstones are sourced from various countries, provided by suppliers who meet strict applicable ethical standards.

Shop Poppy Finch

7. Agmes 

For: women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: charitable, recycled metals, locally manufactured, zero waste
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and offers international shipping

The creators of Agmes jewelry combine modern sculptural forms with artisan craftsmanship. The results are designs that balance vitality and simplicity, bold yet refined. The company operates a made-to-order production model from their base in New York City, working with a team of skilled artisans. The brand reduces its carbon footprint with sustainable and locally sourced materials combined with local manufacturing.

They use 925 sterling silver, 18k gold vermeil, 14k gold, and freshwater pearls in their jewelry pieces. Most of the metals they use are recycled, and nothing goes to waste as they melt and reuse their scraps.

Agmes has partnered with the Clean Air Task Force, NAACP, Meals on Wheels, and other organizations working to bring justice and safety to communities. For April 2021, they will donate 5% of their online sales to Kiss the Ground. The donation will support Kiss the Ground on its mission to educate people about regenerative agriculture.

Shop Agmes

8. Clean Origin

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: 100% lab-grown diamonds, Responsible Jewelry Council certification, carbon offset, recycled packaging, international gem
Store location and shipping: based in and ships only to the united states and Canada

This brand delights in sealing love stories with stunning engagement and wedding rings. Their lab-cultivated diamonds are an ethical alternative to mined diamonds. They have the same quality, look and feel as mined diamonds and may even be more affordable. Clean Origin’s diamonds are certified by the International Gemological Institute and Gem Certification and Assurance Lab.

All metals used in clean origin pieces are recycled and certified by the RJC. They use recycled paper in their packing and use carbon offsets to reduce their carbon footprint.

Shop Clean Origin

9. KBH Jewels

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: zero mining, lab-grown diamonds, sustainable pearls, SCS certified suppliers, locally manufactured, eco-friendly packaging, recycled metals
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and offers international shipping

A sustainable jewelry brand that sources and manufactures its products in New York City, KBH jewelry is love symbolized. Founder Kimberly Berry Haisch’s design ideology is to create luxury pieces that can serve as modern family heirlooms.

They make fine jewelry from 100% recycled and reclaimed solid 14k gold, lab cultivated diamonds, and sustainable pearls. KBH is one of the few brands that produce their entire jewelry collection without a single ounce of newly mined metal or diamonds. 

The company is intentional about using only ethically sourced materials, even in its packaging. They make the packaging from upcycled plastic waste and organic fabric pouches. They partner with organizations like Earthworks and Ethical Metalsmiths to promote ethical jewelry production.

Shop KBH Jewels

10. Nordgreen 

Nordgreen
Photo Credit: Nordgreen

For: men and women
Product range: watches
Ethical practices and values: conflict-free materials, closed-loop production, toxic-free, eco-friendly packaging, vegan leather charitable
Store location and shipping: based in Denmark and offers international shipping

Nordgreen is a Danish ethical jewelry brand that specializes in creating high-quality nordic influenced watches. The brand operates a traceable, eco-friendly, and socially responsible supply chain. 

They make their vegan leather range from cotton and polyester blend. Their closed-loop manufacturing system allows them to recapture and reuse 99% of solvents used during production. Nordgreen’s dedication to energy efficiency in fighting climate change is laudable - their Copenhagen office is carbon neutral, and so is their shipping. They use FSC certified cardboard for packaging their watches.

The company works with danish owned factories in China and Italy, and workers operate under the fair labor standards of the European workforce. 

Nordgreen has a giving back program that supports nonprofits that provide education, safe drinking water, and meals in India and central Africa. They also partner with cool earth to preserve rainforests in Latin America.

Shop Nordgreen

11. Irina Victoria Jewelry

For: women
Product range: rings, earrings, necklaces, and rings
Ethical practices and values: charitable, locally manufactured, recycled metals, lab-grown diamonds, reclaimed gemstones, plastic-free packaging
Store location and shipping: based in the USA and international shipping to Canada, Belgium, Puerto Rico, the UK, Japan, Germany, Australia, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain.

The eponymous brand is on a mission to design timeless minimalist fine jewelry. The company uses recycled materials in almost 100% of its collection. Most of its precious metal comes from old jewelry, production scrap, tech industry parts, and dental fillings. The company gets its gems and diamonds from reclaimed pieces and ethical manufacturers.

The brand carries out its sourcing and manufacturing strictly within the USA. IVJ works only with companies whose commitments to environmental and social responsibility mirrors theirs. The brand’s kraft paper and linen packagings are 100% recycled and recyclable.

IVJ donates 5% of profits from online sales to the wildlife conservation network.

Shop Irina Victoria Jewelry

12. Mejuri

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: recycled materials, fair mining, traceability, SCS certified, RJC certified smelter, Fairtrade
Store location and shipping: based in Canada and ships to selected countries in North America, the Middle East, Oceania, Europe, Asia

Mejuri aims to make jewelry that is traceable, eco-friendly, and socially responsible. About 60% of their manufacturing partners are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. The brand ensures that every one of its partners pays fair wages and provides a safe working environment.

The brand works with gold, silver, diamonds, freshwater pearls, and gemstones. They make their gold pieces from recycled metal or Fairtrade certified artisanally mined gold. The company ensures that its diamonds are conflict-free and socially responsible.

Mejuri sources its handcrafted products directly from artisans and sells them directly to consumers. This helps the company avoid the traditional markups and remain affordable while maintaining luxury standards.

Shop Mejuri

13. Washed Ashore

Washed Ashore
Photo Credit: Washed Ashore

For: men and women
Product range: jewelry
Ethical practices and values: sustainable materials, carbon-free shipping, recycled metals, recycled packaging, carbon offsetting, traceability, Positive Luxury award
Store location and shipping: based in and offers international shipping

The drive behind the creation of Washed Ashore was the need to protect the ocean and preserve marine resources. 

Most jewelers do not use imperfect pearls, and they go to waste. Washed Ashore only uses Keshi pearls, giving rejected pearls a second chance. The abalone shells used by the brand are a byproduct of the food industry in Thailand. They source 100% recycled metal from RJC certified suppliers in the USA. All the diamonds and gemstones in their pieces are recycled.

Their partnership with CarbonFund helps the company to offset shipping emissions. They use recycled materials in 100% of their packaging and use chemical-free vegetable dye for the print. The brand has a recycling program that allows customers to return the jewelry for recycling and earn rewards.

Washed Ashore has partnered with many non-profits over the years, including the NAACP, Amnesty International, and Colour of Change.

Shop Washed Ashore

Jennifer is a content writer with an educational background in Public Relations and Advertising. From her desk in Lagos, Nigeria, she helps businesses around the world reach and connect with their audiences.
Photo by Erik Ringsmuth on Unsplash
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