Best Overall Sustainable Jewellery: Laura Lombardi
So simple and elegant, this jewelry enhances your personal beauty and keeps the planet healthy.
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!
So simple and elegant, this jewelry enhances your personal beauty and keeps the planet healthy.
Recycled abalone shells that would normally end up in landfills!
Hand dug, hand shaped, hand painted quality pieces that protect the environment and the world’s natural resources.
Recycled metal never looked so chic!
Lab grown gemstones have the same fire and sparkle, without the harm to the planet.
Real recycled gold and a purely transparent supply chain.
Ethical work and certified jewelry that will stun.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are dozens of sustainable jewelry companies to choose from.
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.
There are ethical ways to source gold, silver, brass, pearls, gems, bone, horn, and wood for jewelry.
Recycled materials do not necessarily make jewelry less expensive. In fact, some businesses charge even more for recycled 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.
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.
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.
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.
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>
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