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Image via Maquette
Written by: Zeinab Magdi

When it comes to sustainable clothing, there’s a lot of talk about the environmental and ethical impacts of different fibres, manufacturers, recycled materials, and so on, but jewelry is often left out of the conversation. The jewelry industry is worth a total of 230 billion dollars worldwide, and is projected to reach a value of 300 billion dollars by 2025, and so it seems important to spotlight different brands that are redefining what it means to make sustainable and ethical jewelry. Consumers should be aware of where the jewelry comes from, how it is sourced, whether the miners are paid fairly, and the environmental impact these brands are creating. Sustainable and ethical practices include ethically sourcing gemstones to ensure that miners are able to work safely in conflict free zones and are paid fairly, as well as using recycled materials. However, for these jewelry brands, the practices go beyond that, from supporting local communities where the jewelry is made, to offering full transparency and tracing, and to committing zero – waste programs to prevent waste from ending up in landfills. See how these 10 ethical jewelry brands are producing a smaller environmental footprint, sourcing their jewels ethically, and their plans for the future.

1. Mejuri

Based in: Toronto, Canada
Ethics: Ethically sourced metals and gemstones, fair trade gold, fair labour, and environmental sustainability
Price range: $$$
About: The brand offers rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces that are handcrafted by jewelers from across the world in countries such as Italy, India, and South Korea at a more affordable price range. These materials include pearls, mineral stones, and diamonds that are ethically sourced from suppliers who follow conflict free practices.

2. Catbird

Based in: Brooklyn, NYC
Ethics: Ethical working conditions, fair wages, conflict free stones, recycled gold, gives back
Price range: $$ – $$$
About: The woman owned, Brooklyn based brand makes their own jewelry entirely in-house at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With over 40 fairly paid jewelers and artisans, the team crafts dainty, delicate jewelry for everyday wear and beyond, as well as stocking other jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings. All pieces use recycled gold and are sourced from conflict free suppliers. Plus, the Catbird Giving Fund donates one percent of all sales (not just profits – sales!) to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Food Bank of New York City.

Image via @milk instagram
Image via Pinterest
3. Wolf Circus

Based in: Vancouver, Canada
Ethics: recycled silver & bronze, fair wages, safe labour, conflict free materials
Price range: $$$
About: Wolf Circus uses either recycled sterling silver or recycled bronze that is coated in a high grade 14k gold plating at an affordable price range. Their sun charm earrings, glass coloured hoops, and pearl and glass necklaces are extremely popular among the Gen Z crowd.

4. Chayle Jewellery

Based in: Ottawa, Canada
Ethics: Ethical & sustainable sourcing of gold and silver, fair trade gemstones, Canadian diamonds, fair labour & wages, conflict free
Price range: $$$
About: The brand offers bracelets, earrings, rings, and necklaces that are made of sustainably and ethically sourced gold, silver and gemstones, their jewelry is crafted in Ottawa, and is sourced from conflict free miners. They also offer full transparency and tracing for their consumers  in the FAQ section of their website.

5. ABLE

Based in: Nashville, TN
Ethics: Certified B Corp, responsibly sourced materials, gives back, fair wages and working conditions
Price range: $-$$
About: ABLE creates sustainable business opportunities for women in Nashville who have overcome adversity. It is a social impact brand that aims to fight generational poverty. They employ women who come out of the commercial sex industry, they publish their wages online, and 95% of their employers are women, many who are living in poverty. They invest in, train, and educate women so they can earn a living and break the cycle of poverty.

6. 31 Bits

Based in: Indonesia, Uganda, & USA
Ethics: Holistic care for artisans, fair trade & wages, ethical working conditions.  

Price range: $ – $$
About: 31 Bits works with artisans in Uganda and Indonesia to create high quality jewelry. They employ women under safe working conditions and fair wages, as well as caring for the beneficiaries by providing them with counselling, healthcare, financial education, and business mentorships. The consumer’s purchases go directly towards helping empower women.

Gif via Vogue
Image via happyshappy
7. Omi Woods

Based in: Toronto, Canada
Ethics: Ethical working conditions, fair trade and conflict free materials, gives back, fair wages
Price Range: $$$ – $$$$
About: Created by Ashley Alexis McFarlane, Omi Woods is a line of contemporary heirloom jewelry inspired by her grandmother and African culture. The fair trade African gold is sourced from small scale mines that are dedicated to fair wages and safe labour. All metals are conflict free. Omi Woods specializes in necklaces, anklets, and earrings that are made to last and be passed down through generations. 

Based in: Kenya, Africa
Ethics: Certified B Corp, gives back, fair wages, fair trade, conflict free
Price range: $$
About: SOKO is a women led, ethical manufacturing platform that is built to connect local artisans in Kenya. They connect marginalized Kenyan artisans to the global market and to enable workforce, their aim is to reduce inequality through the creation of high quality jobs. Kenyan artisans working with SOKO earn more than 5 times the amount than the average Kenyan artisan workshop. They created jewelry based on Kenyan traditions and cultures, their products range from necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets

9. Accompany

Based in: NYC
Ethics: Certified B Corp, ethically made by artisans, gives back, fair trade
Price range: $$ – $$$
About: Jewelry pieces are made by Indigenous communities from responsibly sourced materials. Their goals are to support Indigenous peoples, provide a better alternative to low paying, unsafe factory work, and to protect local traditions. They provide clean and safe working conditions with fair wages and ensure that their profits are given back to the community through humanitarian work. They sell unique jewelry pieces such as eyewear chains, bracelets, rings, and necklaces with Indigenous designs and patterns.

10. Foe & Dear

Based in: Vancouver, Canada
Ethics: Gives back, recycled materials, fair trade gold, fair wages, conflict – free gemstones
Price range: $$$
About: Founded by Katherine Schlattman in 2009, Foe & Dear creates sustainable jewelry that is eco – friendly and sustainably made. They are members of the organization 1% for the Planet, which supports ethically run businesses and connects them with non profit partners worldwide. They are committed to giving 1% of every purchase towards community and environmental non profit organizations. Their products range from bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, they even have a service where you can create your own ring!

Image via RalphLauren

It is extremely inspiring to see how these brands are not only ethically sourcing their materials and paying their employees fair wages, but also giving back to their communities. The jewelry industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and so it is important that all jewelry companies follow the standard set by these ten wonderful brands in order to stop the exploitation of miners and artisans worldwide, as well as reducing their environmental footprint. Consumers can feel at ease knowing that their money is going towards helping local communities where the jewelry is made. We would love to see a future where all jewelry brands have the same values!

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