- Deven Nelson
- Ethical and Sustainable Brand Guides
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Ultimate Guide to Ethical & Eco Jewelry
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds – gorgeous, high-quality jewelry that aligns with your values – this is the ultimate guide for you! In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fair trade and sustainable jewelry.
To begin, what does sustainability mean in the context of jewelry? In short, sustainability refers to the ability of a piece of jewelry to be made or used without doing harm to people or the environment. It encompasses many different aspects – from how materials are sourced and processed, to how a piece is made, packaged, sold, and even disposed of at the end of its life cycle.
The main component of jewelry making is, of course, the materials. Sustainably-sourced and ethically-sourced materials are key. This often includes precious metals and gemstones that are mined responsibly, without endangering workers’ health or the environment. When it comes to diamonds, the Kimberly Process is an important standard to look for. This certification ensures that a diamond was not mined or traded illegally, in violation of human rights and environmental regulations. There are also certifications for ethically-mined gold and other metals.
It can also include recycled materials, such as reclaimed precious metals or repurposed gemstones, or even upcycled materials, such as plastic, rubber and other waste. And last but not least, natural fibers and other biodegradable or compostable materials that are sourced from sustainable farms and factories are also commonly used.
But there is more to ethical jewelry than just sourcing material responsibly. It also involves ensuring fair treatment of workers throughout the manufacturing process. This means providing a safe and healthy work environment, as well as fair wages and benefits for everyone involved in the process, from workers on the manufacturing floor to artisans who design and create pieces.
We know what you’re thinking. This all sounds too good to be true. Well, it’s not! If you’re looking for jewelry that aligns with your ethical values and fits your needs and your style, look no further. We’ve got the ultimate list of brands for you!
Are you looking for modern, ethically made pieces that are perfect for your everyday life? Abby Alley is for you! Their Core Collection serves as the fundamentals for a well-styled wardrobe, while their limited-edition drops are special pieces for the current moment. Abby is an educator turned entrepreneur when she traveled to Tanzania to volunteer at a local primary school. Abby Alley partners with makers in Kenya and Tanzania who share their values of following fair trade practices while maintaining high standards for quality. All of the employees are paid above the national standards for a living wage. All of the materials, from brass hardware to leather, are locally and ethically sourced. They only use leather that is a byproduct of the meat industry, an integral part of the local economy.
Are you a "less is more" kind of person? ABLE makes jewelry that is beautiful in its simplicity, with minimal fuss and maximum impact. ABLE is a social enterprise that has its sights set on a much bigger aim than just creating stylish fashion. Able exists to employ and empower women as a solution to end poverty. They invest in, train, and educate women (often survivors of abuse) so they can earn a living, break the cycle of poverty, and thrive. ABLE is committed to ensuring every woman receives fair treatment and compensation reflective of her immense worth. And they publish all of the wages of all of their employees, challenging the entire economic model and pushing the world toward a better way of doing business.
Luxury jewelry is the perfect way to elevate your look and showcase your style. Aurate is the ultimate choice for luxury jewelry that's both ethically and sustainably produced. Diamonds are tracked and adhere strictly to the Kimberly Process. All gold is recycled. Pearls are sourced from sustainable farms. All craftspeople and makers are paid fair wages. Whether you’re looking for a classic diamond eternity band or a trendy gold pendant necklace, Aurate has the perfect piece to suit your style.
If you’re looking for a statement piece to complete your outfit, Deux Mains has something for you. Deux Mains is a women-owned and women-managed ethical and sustainable fashion brand with the ultimate muse – Haiti! In addition to creating gorgeous, upcycled accessories, they create good work opportunities that alleviate poverty in a dignified and sustainable way in Haiti. Their focus is not short-term profit but long-term economic development. Their workers earn benefits, living wages, health insurance, paid holidays and maternity/paternity leave. Their factory is 100% solar powered, they use repurposed inner tubes and tires in their products, and they locally source raw materials.
Do you love one-of-a-kind pieces? Discover discovered, the Netherlands-based, online marketplace for artisan-made jewelry that connects artisan entrepreneurs in India, Kenya, Thailand, Indonesia, South America, Mexico, Malaysia and Israel to conscious consumers across the world. You'll be able to browse thousands of unique pieces made from gold, silver, and precious stones. When the artists who make these unique and custom creations, they ensure their families live with respect and dignity, and they keep traditional crafts alive. discovered is a certified members of The Artisan Alliance and a certified B Corporation. Whether you're looking for a special gift or just treating yourself, discover something new today.
Affordability and style. At Fair Anita believes that everyone should have access to the beautiful things in life - which is why they partner with artisans around the world to bring you unique and high-quality jewelry. Whether you're looking for a statement necklace, a delicate bracelet, or anything in between, they have something that will catch your eye. Founded by Joy McBrien and named for Senora Anita (a social worker based in Chimbote, Peru), Joy and Anita's lifelong friendship inspired a partnership that gives economic opportunities to women who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence and other violence against women. Fair Anita's artisan partners earn 2-4x the minimum wage and have access to health insurance and educational scholarships.
Fair Trade Winds curates modern, fair trade jewelry designs with the heart and soul of traditional artisan craftsmanship. They only partner with artisan co-ops and small workshops that are mindful of the materials that are used and re-used, which protects the planet from harmful waste and pollution. Materials are as varied as the designs, including paper, fabric, wood, metals and gemstones. From bold statement pieces to delicate everyday pieces to one-of-a-kind, artisanal pieces, you’ll be sure to find something you’re proud to wear!
If you want to wear your green story on your sleeve (or in this case, on your neck and ears), then you are going to love Giulia Letzi + META Jewelry! META's jewelry is sustainable from start to finish. Their mission is to act on the billions tons of plastic that never reaches a recycled state. They collect plastic from their community and upcycle it into contemporary jewelry. Each META piece is crafted by hand. Attention to detail and material sourcing are at the forefront of their process: metals are recycled; every part of plastic bottles is up-cycled; even the packaging and shipping follow their core sustainability beliefs. We told you...100% sustainable from beginning to end!
Earthy-chic and minimalistic. Hathorway handcrafts sustainable, luxe jewelry and accessories from natural and repurposed materials like upcycled buffalo horns and handwoven rattan. Founder Jessica Phan was inspired by her travel to Vietnam where she reconnected with her roots. Designed, assembled, and packaged in the USA, with materials from Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea, Hathorway's thoughtfully-crafted jewelry will last for years. 10% of all Hathorway’s profits go to initiatives that empower young, underprivileged women. Hathorway is a women-owned brand and treats all its makers with respect by providing fair wages and safe working environments.
Iron Oxide is a sustainable jewelry brand of celestial jewelry made with ethical gemstones, recycled metals, diamond alternatives + quality craftsmanship. Every product is made to order just for you! Owner and artist Amy Fox hand carves each wax model. The model is then cast into a mold locally in Portland, Oregon, using recycled metals. Fox then carefully sets each stone and crystal into the cast by hand. Each order arrives in recyclable and minimal packaging to be mindful of plastic use and its impact on our planet. With Iron Oxide's ethical jewelry, you're receiving a stunningly handcrafted piece thoughtfully made to last a lifetime.
LA-based, B Corp Certified brand Karen Kane makes boho, casual & trendy jewelry that will enhance your fashion day or night. From subtle sparkle to unique textures, at Karen Kane you’ll find incredible pieces full of charm from all around the world: beautifully beaded layered necklaces designed by Native American artists, drop earrings and hoop earrings handmade from natural and recycled materials designed by Kenyan artisans, and necklaces, bracelets, and rings with intricate sterling silver and 14k gold metalwork, and radiant stones from Spain. The UNOde50 costume jewelry collection, handmade in Spain, features inspired designs and statement pieces that take the shape of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings. Each collection features limited edition timeless pieces designed with a mix of metals and leathers, beads, and Swarovski crystals and diamonds.
Nisolo is all about minimalist style with maximum benefit to people and the planet. Meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental responsibility, Nisolo is one of the world’s top rated Certified B Corporations and the #1 ranked Re/Make brand. When it comes to transparency, they really set the bar high! They score and report all of their products across 200 sustainability metrics to help clarify their social and environmental impact and to hold themselves more accountable in hopes that the industry will begin to do the same. Based in Nashville, Nisolo is best known for their ethical footwear, but their accessories are just as gorgeous. All Nisolo jewelry is handmade by artisans in Kenya using upcycled brass. They are committed to maintaining 0% net carbon emissions through measuring, reducing and offsetting 100% of carbon emissions from the start of supply chain all the way to product shipment. Oh, and did we mention that they are a Certified B Corporation?
People Tree is a London-based fair trade and sustainable fashion pioneer founded by Safia Minney. You may have even heard of the book she wrote? Slave to Fashion. People Tree adheres to Fair Trade principles in every single aspect of their business. Their accessories range features exquisitely handmade designs from the world's greatest artisans. You’ll find ethically made pendant necklaces, bracelets and earrings in copper, silver or brass, all verified by the World Fair Trade Organization. One of People Tree’s artisan partners, Bombolulu, is a Fair Trade and social business in Mombasa, Kenya. Bombolulu was established in 1969 as a rehabilitation project sponsored by the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. Besides jewelry, Bombolulu creates leatherwork, carving and textiles, providing work for over 100 people. Artisans at Bombolulu make every detail of the jewelry by hand – even the link of each chain is made by hand.
If you believe that jewelry should be worn minimally or layered to the max, and your style is best described as understated elegance, then you will love Sara Patino Jewelry. Each piece is made from 100% post-consumer recycled gold, sterling silver and responsibly-mined gemstones. and the artisans who cut and process the gemstones work in safe conditions and are paid fair wages. All pieces are made in Sara’s St. Louis studio in small batches. It's timelessly modern jewelry you can truly feel good about.
SiiZU is a sustainable fashion brand based in NYC. For them, sustainability is not merely a promise - it is a driving force behind every decision. Their studio is located in downtown Brooklyn where most of their pieces are handcrafted. Their sourcing team is very persistent in finding the right partners, only working with manufacturers who are qualified under the ISO 14001 standard, an internationally recognized environmental standard that indicates efficient energy use and limited waste output. They donate to American Forest to help them reach their goal of planting 2.7 million trees across 44 projects in the U.S. to restore and protect critical wildlife habitat.
SOKO is a San Francisco-based ethical jewelry and accessories brand that is led by women and puts people before profit. SOKO's technology connects artisans in Kenya with you, the consumer. The name SOKO is an ode to many meanings of being strong. The brand is inspired by powerful women who cease to be defined by the status quo. Women who create, innovate and inspire, every day, to build a better, more brilliant future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Through a continued exploration of form, materiality, and artisan techniques, they create jewelry collections comprised of evolved classics and subtle statements to celebrate uninhibited self-expression. SOKO is a certified B Corporation.
If you’re looking for a truly unique piece of jewelry for you or a loved one, then you must check out fair trade pioneer Ten Thousand Villages. The original TTV effort (called Overseas Needlework and Craft) was founded by Edna Ruth Byler as a program of the Mennonite Central Committee. In the late 1940s, Byler traveled to Puerto Rico and met women who were unable to feed their children. She asked them if she could take their needlework art and textiles back to Ohio, sell them, and send the profits back to them. Thus sparked the idea for a global maker-to-market movement. TTV is clear in its mission to break the cycle of generational poverty and ignite lasting, positive social change. They encourage people to shop with intention for ethically sourced products and to find joy in supporting makers in thousands of villages around world. At TTV, you can trust that every purchase directly impacts the life and community of its maker in a developing country.
The artisans of UPAVIM offer a dazzling variety of attractive fair trade jewelry. Guatemalan artisans skilled in detailed beadwork to bring you a colorful assortment of handmade jewelry. From chic and sleek, to natural and boho, to eco-friendly and recycled, you will feel great giving and wearing these unique world treasures! Upavim Crafts is a fair trade organization in Guatemala that is dedicated to creating opportunities for women artisans. The organization works with more than 1,000 indigenous Mayan women from rural areas across Guatemala who are struggling with poverty and discrimination. Through Upavim's fair trade program, these women receive training and support as they learn new skills, gain access to markets, increase their incomes, and improve the lives of their families. Some of Upavim's most popular products include hand-woven textiles, jewelry made from recycled bottle caps, and custom-made nursery furniture. Whatever gift you choose from Upavim Crafts, you can be sure that it was crafted by a woman artisan who has been treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire process.
Welljourn is a curated collection of fair trade and artisan-made items, destined to hold a special place in someone’s life. Handmade by artisans from all over the world, each piece has its own story of hope and beauty.
YEWŌ is a sustainable jewelry brand based in the mountains of rural Northern Malawi, where ethical craftsmanship meets elevated design to create jewelry that you can genuinely feel good about. YEWŌ is a Tumbuka word meaning ‘thank you’. The name is a reflection of the authentic gratitude its founders hold for the people behind their products, the planet that we all share and for the intentional consumer who believes that the jewelry we wear and the objects we bring into our homes should be a reflection of our values. Their pieces are designed and ethically handcrafted in-house using hypoallergenic recycled brass, sterling silver posts, and a whole lot of love. Every YEWŌ purchase provides in-house skill training, consistent employment, and resources for unemployed individuals living in rural Malawi. YEWŌ employees are provided daily nutritious meals, health care assistance, 26 annual paid-days off, access to interest-free loans, annual raises/bonuses, and a 2x1 pension savings program. In addition, your purchase supports the YEWŌ Community Initiative which is a local educational outreach program to provide the salaries for 2 primary school teachers to help reduce class sizes, as well as equitable scholarships for students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend secondary school. YEWŌ’s entire workshop runs on renewable energy - electric machines, tools, and community charging stations are all 100% powered by the sun! Labels and marketing material are made from consumer byproducts and turned into recycled card-stock within Malawi. Retail orders are shipped in small cotton bags handmade by a group of mamas from Manchewe village. Wholesale orders are shipped in compostable plant-based bags. They use upcycled raw materials and source locally whenever possible. Even their thick wire is sourced from a small nearby co-op who makes the wire from old coins and scrap brass. Last but not least, YEWŌ is participating in reforestation efforts. Like many places, Malawi is facing alarming rates of deforestation. YEWŌ has so far planted close to 1,000 trees around their community, and they hope to make this a major priority for the coming years.
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