Did you know not all jewelry is created equal? Many mainstream jewelry brands resort to very unethical practices such as child labor and the use of blood diamonds. However, just because you’re trying to live a sustainable lifestyle (or are just boycotting these inhumane practices to begin with) doesn’t mean you can’t wear jewelry. Thankfully, there are plenty of companies who create gorgeous jewelry using sustainable practices! Here’s a list of many companies that I’ve discovered on my journey of sustainability.
Green Tree Jewelry
Green Tree Jewelry is a family owned business based out of San Diego, CA. They create a variety of jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. All of their products are made from either hypoallergenic stainless steel, bamboo, or sustainably harvested wood. They also offer custom designs and many of their wood-based products double as an essential oil diffuser!
SOKO is a jewelry company that was founded in Nairobi, Kenya and has since expanded to San Francisco, California. Their collections often feature traditional tribal designs with a modern twist, paying tribute to the company’s origins. The primary element of all of their jewelry is brass as it is an affordable alternative to gold and extremely sustainable. Fun fact, nearly 90% of all brass in the world is recycled! Not only does using solid brass ensure durability, but the color doesn’t fade. SOKO also has products made from cow-horn products that come from the horn of Ankole Longhorn cattle. This breed is native to the Rift Valley region of East Africa. This material is ethically harvested from nomadic tribes in Kenya and Uganda since it is a byproduct of their food industry. The natural variation of the reclaimed horn gives ensures that each product made from the material is unique since it can naturally take on different colors such as striated, natural tones to dark black.
Nisolo is an ethical market that sells a variety of items such as clothing, shoes, and jewelry. The majority of their jewelry products come from their factory in Trujillo, Peru. They also source from ethical partner factories in Leon, Mexico. However, all of their jewelry is made by independent designers from Nairobi, Kenya and is made from upcycled brass! If you’re looking into purchasing jewelry from Nisolo, feel free to check out the product descriptions to learn more about the product such as it’s origins and materials!
Ana Luisa sells a variety of earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and fine jewelry. They make the effort to create their jewelry in small batches, effectively minimizing waste. Their gold toned jewelry is made from 100% recycled gold. Their silver toned jewelry is made of 92.5% pure silver and plated with Rhodium for added reinforcement and longevity. All of the diamonds they use are sustainably grown. While they are identical to mined diamonds in their chemical makeup, they are clean, traceable, and still just as beautiful.
Purpose is a brand that not only serves a purpose to the environment but the people in it as well. Their mission is to empower girls and young women who are escaping human trafficking to understand their worth. They are partnered with International Sanctuary to help provide these women with holistic care and healing, all while ensuring them they are loved and safe. By partnering with International Sanctuary, they are able to provide these women with professional job training, a stable income, and access to healthcare.
Wild Fawn was developed in 2015. What started out as a love for drawing quickly transformed into a passion for designing jewelry. Emma, the founder, is a registered Fairtrade gold user, meaning that she only uses gold that is either recycled or ethically produced in her jewelry. All of the pieces are made to order in their London studio, meaning nothing is over produced or wasted. In addition, all of their packaging is recycled as well.
Alex and Ani
Alex and Ani is a jewelry brand based in Rhode Island. They believe in designing jewelry that connects you to your true self with the symbols you need to guide you there. Their website has this really neat Blueprint calculator that shows gives you a variety of jewelry recommendations based on the results of the questionnaire it has you take. All of the results tie into items such as your birthstone, zodiac, numerology, and the trait you’re looking for such as courage, grace, hope, etc. To date, Alex and Ani are partnered with over 50 non-profit charities and have donated $50 million to non-profits around the globe. They even have a charity product collection where the jewelry is created with certain charities in mind and portions of the profits are donated to those charities. To make things even cooler, they have jewelry designed by celebrities such as Kaley Cuoco and Elizabeth Olsen in which 100% of the proceeds go towards EBMRF to help find a cure!
Edge of Ember
Edge of Ember is a jewelry company that prides themselves in designing fine and luxury jewelry at an affordable price. They primarily use sterling silver, gold, and semi-precious stones in their jewelry. All of their jewelry is made using an ethical production process. One portion of the process is working with an artisan organization based in Jaipur, India. These artisans and support staff come from underprivileged communities. All of those employed receive medical insurance and are paid an early advance of 40% of the production order value before starting the process. This advance allows them to buy materials and promotes financial stability. Sales from the jewelry also help fund a nonprofit called SETU Society. This nonprofit organizes literacy classes for women, and provides infrastructure development programs and computer training for children in villages. Edge of Ember also has a female dominant factory based in Bangkok, Thailand that also helps with the jewelry making aspect of the business.
Made Trade is a company that features the best selection of sustainable, fair trade, and vegan products from brands around the world. All of the businesses they partner with undergo an intense screening process that looks at the brand’s policies such as fair labor practices and sustainability initiatives. What is really inspiring about Made Trade is their values which is something all brands they partner with share in one form or another. Made Trade values fair labor practices, brands that are owned by people of color, are vegan, owned by women, and sustainable. You can rest assured that when making a purchase on Made Trade, extensive research has been done for you!
AUrate New York
AUrate is a fine jewelry brand founded and based in New York. All of their pieces are designed using ethically sourced and sustainably made gold that is 100% recycled. While they do use natural diamonds, all of them are tracked directly from the mines. They ensure that the mines they procure their diamonds from have ethical working conditions, offer fair pay, and respect the local indigenous population. All of the pearls used in their jewelry are sustainably farmed and harvested from family-run farms in Japan. A portion of the profits made from purchases goes to purchasing books for Mastery Charter, a nationwide organization dedicated to promoting literacy in U.S. schools.
Baleen was founded in 2013 with the purpose of providing handmade, quality jewelry that is both fashion-forward, responsible, and affordable. Practically all of the metals used in their jewelry are recycled. Their production studio in Seattle, Washington is completely zero-waste! They are able to manage this by recycling scrap metals, returning small bits of gold to be re-processed, or donating design components to their local schools and jewelry classes. Their packaging is even sustainable! All of their tags are printed on recycled paper from a hydro and wind powered mill. Also, rather than using bubble wrap, they use 100% recyclable paper in honeycomb shaped diecut cells as their method of protecting your product.
Elizabeth Stone was founded in 2011 and is inspired by the concept of “laid-back glam”. All of their jewelry is comprised mainly of brass, which is a very recyclable material. They also limit waste by only purchasing semi precious gems specific to their pieces.
Claus is a handmade jewelry line based in Kingston, New York. All of their pieces are made from recycled metal, fair-mined gold, and conflict-free stones. Since everything is handmade, production time is a bit longer. However, this ensures quality product all while minimizing waste. Claus also offers custom engraving on many of their products for that extra touch of personalization!
Whiskey + Wine
Whiskey + Wine is a small jewelry business owned and operated by Mal. All of their jewelry is made to order with new designs posted frequently. Their jewelry is made from clay and they only use stainless steel and brass for their pieces requiring metal. The majority of their products are also nickel free!
Summer Love is a brand of jewelry that is designed and handcrafted in Rincon, Puerto Rico. All of the silver and gold in their products are made with recycled metals. Their jewelry with stones are made from sea gems and gemstones that are sustainable, and sourced ethically and locally. They even sell jewelry for your little ones! Proceeds of sales are donated to various charities and nonprofits in Puerto Rico, such as Doctors without Borders, Calorcito Pal Corazon, and Amigos de las Americas.
al.tru.ist is a fine jewelry brand based in New York City. They primarily focus on developing jewelry with a modern twist using 100% recycled 14k gold or sterling silver. All of the diamonds used in the jewelry products are conflict-free and ethically responsible. Many of their designs have already made their way to the red carpet and have been worn by actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Bosworth, and Leighton Meester.
BaYou with Love
If you’ve ever seen the Twilight Saga on film, you’ll be familiar with Nikki Reed who portrayed Edward’s sister, Rosalie. Well, guess what? Nikki Reed has her own sustainable jewelry line! Talk about using your status and powerful name to really help promote sustainability! In partnership with Dell (yes, the electronics company) Nikki designed an entire jewelry line that uses recycled metals from recovered electronics. In addition to using recycled electronics as their primary material, all of the water used in the production factory is also recycled and reused. Any trace metals left in the water are also recycled, ensuring nothing toxic is returned to the sewer system. The brand also uses traditionally and ethically mined diamonds. Although, they do also offer cultivated diamonds and exclusively use these diamonds unless a customer specifically requested a mined one.
Namu is a brand of jewelry that is inspired by the ancient bedrock of Finland. All of the silver and gold used in their jewelry is 100% recycled. They also use eco gold from Lapland. This process involves digging gold out with a shovel and separating it from the water. No chemicals are used but it does decrease the harmful impact on the environment and provides miners with fair pay. They also use ethically sourced and local gemstones for all of their jewelry.
Artisan and Fox
Artisan and Fox’s jewelry is pretty unique in that it’s developed by artisans from small communities around the globe! This is pretty magnificent as each artisan brings a bit of their culture and community in each piece they design. You can even get to know the artisans designing the jewelry on the website as each individual has their own profile! After costs of production is deducted, artisan partners receive 50% of the profits from each purpose. All of the jewelry is made from up-cycled metals.
Catori Life Jewelry is a brand dedicated to inspiring and promoting global healing. All of their jewelry is made in the US using only organic materials that are responsibly sourced. Any metals used are also ethically sourced and recycled. They are partnered with The Eden Projects, an organization dedicated to helping recreating healthy forest systems and building local economies in impoverished communities. For every piece of jewelry sold at Catori Life, 30 trees are planted through this partnership.
Astor + Orion
This jewelry company emphasizes the importance of making sustainable jewelry (and living a sustainable lifestyle) a part of your daily self care routine. They design products that are meant to be endlessly recycled or to be composted. They also believe in protecting the dignity and rights of their workers and the local environments.
Fair Anita was established in 2015 and has since partnered with 8,000 women in 9 different countries by providing a source of economic self-sufficiency. Their products are fair trade and are made in ethical working conditions. As members of the Fair Trade Federation, Fair Anita gives their employed artisans 2-3x the minimum wage plus health insurance and educational scholarships. They also work with women to develop business strategies and promote skill and talent development. Nearly all of their products are made from recycled materials and/or are sourced in local communities.
Article 22 sells a variety of jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. All of their jewelry is handmade in Laos, Vietnam. The brand’s first collection is called the Peacebomb collection. Elizabeth Suda, the founder of Article 22, developed this collection after visiting Laos and seeing artisans in a rural village melt US bombs into spoons. After doing research in the Secret War in Laos in the years of 1963-1974 which left 80 million unexploded bombs, Suda created the Peacebomb bracelet with intentions to use the revenue to purchase the bombs back. Today, they currently still use melted, military grade aluminum to develop their jewelry. Portions of purchases from Article 22 are used to work with experts such as UXO to help clear these contaminated lands. They also donate 10% to the Village Development Fund which helps villagers get access to electricity in communal areas and micro-loans. As mentioned, their jewelry is developed by local artisans in Laos. Article 22 pays these families at least 5x the local minimum wage.
La Luna Rose
La Luna Rose sells a variety of jewelry and accessories. They pride themselves in a closed loop production. All of the silver that is sourced to create their products is made from 99% recycled silver and sustainably processed in Thailand from old scrap metal, computer parts, and jewelry. Should they have left over stock of a certain style at the end of the season, they simply melt the silver and re-use it for other pieces they develop. Their goal for 2020 is to have a buy-back system in place where customers can donate their old jewelry made of brass, silver, or gold for buy back. Profits made from these pieces would be donated to environmental relief efforts! La Luna Rose is also a certified 1% for the Planet member.
Gjenmi was created in 2013 when the founder, Jennifer Pak, created jewelry for her bridesmaids to wear for her wedding. Seeing how much her bridesmaids loved the jewelry, she decided to create her own business. Gjenmi prides themselves in using high quality materials without the use of conflict-free stones, gold, and materials.
Sea Candy Jewelry
Sea Candy Jewelry was founded in 2015 in Laguna Beach, California. The brand draws all of its inspiration from the ocean and the treasures it has to offer. While living near Laguna Niguel, the founders of the company were heartbroken seeing all of the trash piling up on the beach. It was during beach cleanups that the company’s founders began to collect sea glass. What started out as just a beautiful bonus to helping keep Laguna Niguel clean, it ultimately led to the creation of Sea Candy Jewelry. To this day, all of the sea glass used in their jewelry is still acquired on the beach. And since sea glass is so unique, no two pieces featuring it are completely alike! Sea Candy Jewelry also has a collection called “Rare Sea Candy” in which only 1 of each item is in stock.