2022 Sustainable Jewellery Guide: 7 Ethical Jewelry Brands Reviewed In-Depth

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Eco-Friendly Natural Products | September 21, 2022

Woman putting on sustainable jewellery earrings, wearing ethical bracelets and necklace.

Did you know that sustainable jewelry is fast becoming the hottest style to sport this season?

Jewelry makes you feel beautiful… until you realize some of the hideous ways irresponsible metal and mineral mining impact both people and the environment.

Fortunately, sustainable and ethical jewelry brands make romantic jewelry without detriments to human rights, health, and the environment. So read on to ensure that a sentimental gift or special occasion is untarnished by the dark side of the jewelry industry.

The following brands are leading the way toward ethical accessorizing that looks as wonderful as it feels to wear!

Our Favorite Sustainable Jewelry Brands

1

Best Overall Sustainable Jewellery: Laura Lombardi

So simple and elegant, this jewelry enhances your personal beauty and keeps the planet healthy.

2

Best Recycled Jewelry: Washed Ashore

Recycled abalone shells that would normally end up in landfills!

3

Best Fair Trade Jewelry: SOKO

Hand dug, hand shaped, hand painted quality pieces that protect the environment and the world’s natural resources.

4

Best Ethical Jewelry Brand: Astor + Orion

Recycled metal never looked so chic!

5

Best Eco-Friendly Jewelry: MiaDonna

Lab grown gemstones have the same fire and sparkle, without the harm to the planet.

6

Best Transparent Jewlerry Brand: Mejuri

Real recycled gold and a purely transparent supply chain.

7

Best Jewellery Brand that Gives Back: Aurate

Ethical work and certified jewelry that will stun.

What Is Sustainable Jewellery?

Why do we need sustainable jewelry, and what sets ethical and sustainable jewelry brands apart from the rest? The jewelry industry actually takes part in some of the worst practices impacting people and the environment. Some consumers have already heard about gold and diamonds’ alarming role as conflict resources that fund and exacerbate humanitarian crises.1

But the problems don’t stop there. Metal mining produces a shocking 35% of environmental wastes- about 14 billion pounds. Additionally, this sector is responsible for 80% of PBT chemical release.2 PBT chemicals from the metal industry are also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because of how aggressively they bioaccumulate in humans, animals, and the environment.3

These chemicals have been linked to a host of devastating health problems.4 For example, cadmium has been found on jewelry, which the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry associates with cardiovascular, developmental, gastrointestinal, neurological, renal, reproductive, and respiratory health hazards.5

Sustainable jewelry offers an alternative to standard careless metal and gem sourcing and production practices.

These ethical jewellery brands have made commitments to protect the health and well-being of customers, the environment, workers, and communities:

1
Best Overall Sustainable Jewellery: Laura Lombardi

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Upcycled, recycled, deadstock, 100% recycled brass, zero-waste closed filtration metal plating system, handmade, responsibly sourced, local and small business, fair wages, affordability, community initiatives
Style: Silver and gold-plated brass; earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, keyrings, metallic belts
Price Range: $-$$
Located In: New York City
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewellery Brand

Laura Lombardi breaks the strenuous buy, dispose, buy again cycle in favor of a longer lifecycle and lower impact for the jewelry itself. By doing product repairs, recycling, upcycling vintage deadstock materials, and providing an item care guide for the jewelry they sell, Laura Lombardi minimizes raw material mining and eases their toll on the environment.

The brand also does its part and gives back to several organizations, including Black Women’s Blueprint, G.L.I.T.S. Inc., The Loveland Foundation, The Lower Eastside Girls Club Community Action Fund, RAICES, and National Bail Out. These causes demonstrate social responsibility by defending immigrant and refugee rights, supporting mothers and caregivers, investing in mental health, and providing youth and families with organically-farmed food, necessities, and educational resources.

2
Best Recycled Jewelry: Washed Ashore

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Ocean and marine life protection, forest conservation, community and education initiatives, environmental sustainability, handmade, 100% recycled, deadstock, second-hand and upcycled, low carbon production and water use, energy efficiency, fair pay, Responsible Jewellery Council, traceability, circular business design
Style: Abalone, pukha, pearls, clear stones, lapis, gold, silver; rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, anklets, charms; seasonal, Zodiac, and archaeology-inspired collections
Price Range: $-$$$
Located In: Los Angeles
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewellery Brand

Washed Ashore knows how to take it easy on the ocean and the earth. They cut out the process of mining and transporting new, raw gemstones, instead upcycling post-consumer diamonds and other gems. Resourcefully, this sustainable jewelry brand takes their abalone shells from recycled Thai food industry by-products that would otherwise become waste. Every single unique and 100% pure Japanese Akoya Keshi pearl they incorporate is guaranteed never to have been bleached, dyed, or treated, and some are taken from 30+ year-old vintage deadstock.

This nature-inspired jewelry brand is determined to maintain a circular business model with completely traceable materials. In addition to partnering with trustworthy suppliers, Washed Ashore undertakes repairs and offers a product care guide to make sure their pieces last. Mindful customers can find integrity throughout Washed Ashore’s supply chain. Because they use a USA-certified green metal refinery, they make no dirty metals, and they consume less water in the process. This transparent brand has completely eliminated all PVC and single-use plastics from their process and even has carbon-free shipping options.

3
Best Fair Trade Jewelry: SOKO

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Certified B-Corp, local markets, vendors, and artisans, ceramics handmade by Kazuri Kenyan Fair Trade women’s collective, ethical food industry byproduct horn and bone, recycled water, entrepreneurship and independence
Style: Gold-plated and ‘silver’ chrome-plated recycled brass, Fair Trade ceramic beads, reclaimed horn and bone, sustainable South Sudan grown teak wood; personalized, stackable, Zodiac, minimalist geometric; bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings
Price Range: $
Located In: San Francisco and Kenya
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewelry Brand

Meet jewelry with a purpose. Meet SOKO. This brand makes premium jewelry from recycled and locally acquired brass base, plating with chrome and gold, which prolongs pieces’ lifecycles by preventing tarnish and eliminating polish. In addition, SOKO reuses the water from their plating process to boost efficiency and outlines a product care guide to help jewelry pieces last. Reclaimed horn and bone elements of the jewelry are food industry byproducts from East African Ankole Longhorn cattle. And the teak wood adorning these bold pieces is harvested from trees 50 years old on average using sustainable harvest cycles.

The soul of SOKO’s fair trade jewelry is the hand-dug, hand-shaped, and hand-painted clay components crafted one by one by Kazuri artisans, a Kenyan Fair Trade women’s collective. This sustainable jewelry brand enables Kenyan entrepreneurship and gives resources to local artisans to help them overcome lacking infrastructure. SOKO drives its artisan industry through cell phone accessibility and digital banking- what they call a virtual factory. They do not monopolize craftspeople, instead of promoting independence and business savvy, so SOKO-partnered artisans make almost five times the income of the average artisan workshop.

4
Best Ethical Jewelry Brand: Astor + Orion

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Circular design, recycled metals, gemstone-free, toxic chemical reduction, pH adjusted wastewater filtration, air quality control, shortened supply chain, factory inspections, reclaimed and re-used production materials, Quality Management Systems certified, Environmental Impact certified, fair trade, human rights, and safe working conditions, eco leadership certificate, carbon offset certificate, SEDEX Member/ SMETA Ethical Audit, Ethical Trade Initiative, Sustainable Fashion Alliance, sustainable packaging and shipping
Style: Affordable, everyday, layering; titanium, yellow and rose gold, silver; earrings, necklaces, charms
Price Range: $
Located In: Seattle
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewelry Brand

According to Astor + Orion, intricately designed pieces don’t need conflict-ridden gems to look captivating and exquisite. Their circular design starts with recycled metals, and their jewelry’s lifecycle ends at being easily recycled once again. This jewelry brand even credits customers’ used jewelry returns in exchange for new items to incentivize recycling. Additionally, Astor + Orion recycles as many production materials as they can. They offer extra carbon offsets through Eco Cart. And their packaging is reusable, made of compostable, eco-friendly materials like cotton, recycled paper, and cardboard to cut down on plastics and carbon. Astor + Orion takes the sustainability from your home to theirs, going as far as recycling office items like printer cartridges, lightbulbs, and plastic film.

This sustainable jewelry brand participates in the Sustainable Fashion Alliance, the Fair Trade in Fashion panel, the O2 Show, and numerable other industry initiatives and regulatory practices. Fair labor is at the heart of Astor + Orion’s business model, as they detail the many steps they take to remain certified in environmentally friendly, ethical, and human-centered production standards.

5
Best Eco-Friendly Jewelry Brand: MiaDonna

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Certified B-Corp, social and environmental responsibility, sustainability, Green America Seal of Approval, carbon-neutral shipping, One Tree Planted reforestation initiative, custom non-toxic jewelry cleaner formula, lab-grown gemstones, recycled metals, recycled diamonds, recycled water, USA-made, ethical and quality standards, conflict diamond education, The Greener Diamond charity foundation, Youth Action International partner
Style: Men’s and women’s wedding bands, engagement rings, custom-designed, modern, vintage, antique, earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets; gold, platinum
Price Range: $-$$$$
Located In: Portland
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewelry Brand

MiaDonna strives for social and environmental justice. Their carbon-neutral shipping and One Tree Planted reforestation initiative have earned this certified B-Corporation the Green America Seal of Approval. They have also formulated their own non-toxic jewelry cleaner to be safer for people and the planet. MiaDonna’s reliance on recycled water, lab-grown, hybrid, and recycled diamonds, and other gemstones also takes a burden off human beings and the environment. Plus, they craft all eco-friendly jewelry pieces in the U.S. under the highest quality and ethical principles. This eco-friendly and sustainable jewelry brand encourages customers to take part in cleaning, care, repairs, and maintenance, to extend jewelry’s life span.

MiaDonna goes above and beyond to educate people about conflict diamonds and alleviate their effects on communities. Their charity foundation called The Greener Diamond is how they donate at least 10% of net profits to the cause. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, TGD helps communities including reformed child soldiers grow food as an alternative to diamond mining. TGD also supports a technical school in Togo, engages in self-sustaining emergency aid projects for Ebola survivors and orphans, and provides skills training, and literacy programs for women.

6
Best Transparent Jewelry Brand: Mejuri

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Sustainable sourcing and extraction, community initiatives, 100% traceable gold, recycled, supply chain transparency, human rights, fair labor and working conditions, Responsible Jewellery Council, Kimberley Process Diamonds, circular business model, Climate Positive Consulting, Life Cycle Assessment carbon and water footprint, Science Based Target Initiative
Style: Men’s and women’s, wedding; yellow and white gold, sterling silver, titanium, pearls diamonds; pendants, stackable, rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets; leather jewelry boxes and travel cases with anti-tarnish lining
Price Range: $-$$$
Located In: Toronto
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewelry Brand

Honesty is the best policy. That’s what makes Mejuri the best sustainable Jewellery Brand for company transparency. Guided by partnerships with the Responsible Jewellery Council, Climate Positive Consulting, and Science Based Target Initiative, Mejuri is setting specific recycling and traceability goals. They have made a promise that by the end of 2022, 70% of their 14k solid gold pieces will be certified recycled gold, with the remaining 30% newly mined but still 100% traceable. Mejuri wants customers to trust that any gold they buy is either mined responsibly to support the communities involved or verified to originate from post-consumer waste.

Sustainability goes beyond gold. Mejuri uses Kimberley Process Diamonds to rule out associations with armed conflicts in at-risk countries. What’s more, this transparent, sustainable jewelry brand embraces circularity through its product lines, returns, and jewelry care kit. Mejuri proactively engages in a Life Cycle Assessment to measure and mitigate their ongoing water and carbon footprint.

7
Best Jewellery Brand that Gives Back: Aurate

Jewelry Ethics and Sustainability: Mastery Charter children’s literacy initiative, She Should Run women’s leadership organization, Build NYC entrepreneurship college and career readiness, 100% recycled gold, Kimberley Process ethically-sourced diamonds, diverse and female leadership, empowering families
Style: Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, rings; gilded silver, yellow, white, and rose gold, diamonds and gems, pearls; wedding, engraving, personalized, stackable, statement pieces
Price Range: $-$$$
Located In: New York City
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why We Love This Sustainable Jewelry Brand

Through diligent Kimberley Process adherence and documentation, Aurate does its best to select vendors that keep safe and ethical working conditions and fair labor for the indigenous people who mine their gems. Aurate vets their gem sources to avoid conflict regions and human rights violations. They also obtain their pearls from conditions that are respectful to the ocean and family pearl farms.

Aurate participates in community action, too. They have partnered with Mastery Charter Schools, donating books to facilitate inner-city students’ literacy, and worked alongside Build NYC to fuel and harness the ambitions of the city’s youth.

Does Ethically Sourced Jewelry Mean Eco-Friendly?

It depends on who you ask. For example, some people take ethically sourced jewelry to mean that the jewelry does not cause any undue harm or burden to people or animals. However, many people extend the meaning of ‘ethically sourced’ to include jewelry that also does not disrupt habitats or the environment, making ‘ethical’ an umbrella term that includes eco-friendly.

In addition, you can find your carbon footprint online, and then use carbon offset tree planting programs (offered by carbon offset companies) to go completely carbon neutral, erasing your impact on the planet for good.

Great Places to Find Ethical Earrings

  • SVNR’s unique handcrafted drop earrings are not just charming and colorful; they are also made of upcycled and natural materials.
  • Ten Thousand Villages’ original and ethical earrings have plenty of personality, from simple to festive and imaginative.
  • Bagatiba makes jewelry from pre-produced materials and recycled metals, including earrings in a minimalist style.
  • Omi Woods sells contemporary-looking geometric and nature-inspired ethical earrings
  • The Little Market is known for conflict-free pieces like classic hoops.

Sustainable Jewelry Companies Near You

California and the West Coast

  • SOKO
  • The Little Market
  • Washed Ashore
  • Grace Lee
  • Kat Kim
  • Bagatiba
  • Astor + Orion
  • MiaDonna

Nashville

  • ABLE
  • Nisolo

New York and the Northeast

  • Aurate
  • Laura Lombardi
  • Catbird
  • AGMES
  • Accompany
  • Ten Thousand Villages

Canada

  • Mejuri
  • Wolf Circus
  • Omi Woods

Jewelry memorializes unforgettable moments and enlivens our everyday outfits with expression and intrigue. So don’t let the jewelry industry’s dark health, ecological, and humanitarian secrets interfere. With so many game-changing sustainable jewelry companies, there’s no excuse not to opt for ethical jewelry brands with caring practices.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sustainable Jewelry

Is Recycled Jewelry Safe to Wear?

Even some recycled jewelry might be made with harmful chemicals and carry traces of them. That’s why it’s always so essential to vet the company selling your jewelry. For example, the majority of the world’s brass is recycled. But that doesn’t automatically mean that most brass jewelry comes from sustainable, ethical, or eco-friendly sources or practices. If you look up a transparent jewelry company to verify its production practices, it might reveal whether its pieces are safe to wear.

How Many Companies Have Made a Pledge for Jewelry Sustainability?

There are dozens of sustainable jewelry companies to choose from.

Are There Laws About Fair Trade Jewellery?

Fair trade laws have been considered in France and Italy that would apply to jewellery, and laws exist preventing misleading fair trade labeling and marketing. A large body of fair trade organizations and associations help regulate and certify all kinds of products from clothes and jewelry to produce.

What Ethically Sourced Jewelry Materials Exist?

There are ethical ways to source gold, silver, brass, pearls, gems, bone, horn, and wood for jewelry.

Is Jewelry Made From Recycled Materials Cheaper?

Recycled materials do not necessarily make jewelry less expensive. In fact, some businesses charge even more for recycled jewelry.

How Can I Check for Environmentally Friendly Jewelry?

When vetting a jewelry company and their pieces, look for terms like upcycled, recycled, deadstock, post-consumer, second-hand, byproduct, local, carbon-neutral, carbon offset, water use, circular design, supply chain transparency, and nontoxic. If the jewelry brand claims to have certifications or partnerships, do some research on what specific environmentally friendly actions their credentials entail.

Who Sells Ethical Gold Jewelry?

In addition to the ethical gold jewelry we already covered, companies like Valley Rose, Christian Iara, Sarah Zentz, Christian Flores, Jessie, Omi Woods, Catbird, Taylor & Hart sell ethical gold jewelry.

Check Out These Other Great, Eco-Friendly Products that Reduce Your Ecological Impact:


References

1Wikipedia Contributors. “Conflict Resource.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Oct. 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_resource>

2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2008) EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC; EPA/600/R-07/045F. Available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA, and online <http://www.epa.gov/roe.>

3US EPA, OCSPP. “Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Chemicals under TSCA Section 6(H).” Www.epa.gov, 20 July 2017 <https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/persistent-bioaccumulative-and-toxic-pbt-chemicals>

4“Persistent Organic Pollutant.” Wikipedia, 22 Oct. 2021 <https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistent_organic_pollutant#Health_effects>

5Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Cadmium | Toxic Substances | Toxic Substance Portal | ATSDR.” Wwwn.cdc.gov, 10 Feb. 2021 <https://www.cdc.gov/TSP/substances/ToxSubstance.aspx?toxid=15>

6Image Source: Laura Lombardi. 1 Nov. 2021. <https://www.lauralombardi.com/shop/p/stradabracelet>

7Image Source: Washed Ashore. 1 Nov. 2021. <https://www.washedashore.co/products/luna-bracelet?pr_prod_strat=copurchase&pr_rec_pid=4861382426721&pr_ref_pid=4048171794529&pr_seq=uniform&variant=33782851534945>

8Image Source: SOKO. 2 Nov. 2021. <https://shopsoko.com/collections/bestsellers/products/delicate-dash-cuff-bracelet?variant=39693503168546>

9Image Source: Astor + Orion. 2 Nov. 2021. <https://astorandorion.com/collections/hoop-earrings/products/corazon-hoop-earrings>

10Image Source: MiaDonna. 1 Nov. 2021. <https://www.miadonna.com/products/caramelo-three-stone-ring>

11Image Source: Mejuri. 1 Nov. 2021. <https://mejuri.com/shop/products/gemstone-ear-jacket-studs-white-topaz>

12Image Source: Aurate. 2 Nov. 2021. <https://auratenewyork.com/products/infinity-heart-huggie-earrings>