Ultimate Guide to fill your jewelry box with conscience
Table of Contents
Jewelry is a treasure that we can cherish for a lifetime. Ethically sourced metals & stones, fair trade gold, fair labour and care for the environment are some of the practices of these sustainable jewelry brands. Wear your values and spark it out with the most extensive list of ethically made jewelry brands.
Jewelry has always been a luxury item and has now become essential in everyday style. Whether you are wanting simple pieces for elegance, bold pieces to make a statement or like to layer jewelry, there is no right or wrong way to wear jewelry. It is a personal preference and shows some personality to an outfit. Even with people working from home, a simple necklace or earrings make a huge difference to your mood and appearance at the next Teams meeting or Zoom call.
But when it comes to ethical standards and most of the brands out there are not exactly sustainable jewelry. In fact, much of the jewelry industry is made up of materials with supply chains that are impossible to chase.
The impact of non-sustainable jewelry
Jewelry doesn’t have the most ethical or sustainable history and with the new consumer wanting more ethical, sustainable and cleaner products, jewelry brands are needing to adapt their ways to meet the needs of their market. Consumers now want to know where their products come from, how their workers are being treated, whether they have gone through any conflict and how sustainable the company is.
The impact we have for buying non-sustainable jewelry brands come with a direct cost that involves both social and environmental aspects.
- Human Rights Watch reported that around 90 million carats of diamonds plus over 1,600 tons of gold are mined for the jewellery industry each year. This alone generates over $300 billion US in profit.
- Up to 15% of diamonds are produced in countries that do not practice ethical mining and use child labor.
- According to the World Bank, artisanal gold mining involves over 100 million people, and human rights violations are all too common.
- There is the issue of poorly managed mines by large corporations that are destroying the earth with harsh toxic chemicals that produce a large amount of waste in the manufacturing process.
- To give you some idea of the waste produced, over 180 million tons of toxic waste is dumped from mines every year and it takes 20 tons of waste to produce a gold ring.
Sustainability is key in any aspect to date as we need to look after our planet and the living things on it. Looking at the impact data above, it becomes urgent to produce in a cleaner way, to consume with those facts in mind, and to request more sustainability, respect, and transparency from each and every brand mining around the world.
The good news is that slowly consumers are looking at more ethical brands, they are also looking at other sustainable ways in purchasing their jewelry such as second-hand products or vintage jewelry so that the materials are being reused.
So, whether you choose second-hand jewelry items or ethically made sustainable jewelry, here some of the top brands to look out for in 2021.
Pro Tip: Share this page with your friends and family on socials, bookmark it for future occasions. This is a go-to-guide to inspire more people in your circle to embrace a more sustainable way of living!
Top Ethical & Sustainable Jewelry Brands
Nisolo collaborates with local artisans in Peru, Mexico, and Kenya in the creation of an exquisite jewelry collection. From design to production, Nisolo provides steady employment opportunities for the craftsmanship in Peru & Mexico, allowing artisans to support their families.
Nisolo creates a range of sustainable jewelry implementing ethical practices such as eco-friendly waste disposal systems, leather byproducts from the meat industry & carbon offsetting to craft leather goods that last a lifetime. No wonder this brand has earned the B Corp certification to craft goods achieving high standard socially + environmentally responsibility.
SOKO is a sustainable jewelry brand dedicated to empowering women and helping artisans in Kenya to produce ethically made jewelry using modern technology. This venture started when co-owners Gwendolyn, Catherine, and Ella were working in Kenya and they found an opportunity to help the local artisans scale their business. Unlike centralized factory production, we use technology to enable the human workforce. Artisans just need to join the app and SOKO will send everything they need to start creating the jewelry.
SOKO’s jewelry collection includes a stunning range of minimal classics and luxury pieces. Inspired by architecture and traditional tribal designs, Soko’s line has a strong yet minimal aesthetic that alludes to the brand’s origins. The designs are from San Francisco but the jewelry is 100% made in Kenya with sustainable materials such as brass, cow horn and wood for their foundations.
3. Daria Day
Daria Day is an ethical jewelry brand working with artisans in Northern Pakistan to handcraft limited edition designs featuring responsibly sourced gemstones. This meaningful jewelry is showing the beauty within Pakistan. Beautiful and contemporary, Daria Day jewelry is ethically sourced and exquisitely handcrafted, deeply committed to elevating the lives of the artisans who create each piece.
Daria Day works with a group of local miners to source our gemstones and silver. They are closely affiliated with the Rupani Foundation, an NGO that has created a rigorous testing process and ensures our gemstones are of the highest quality. This wearable and functional art is for people looking for style and authenticity of the materials used, believing in the healing and connecting power behind each gemstone.
4. Astor & Orion
Astor & Orion is on a mission to create modern, ethical jewelry that helps build a beautiful & fair future for us all.
Astor + Orion jewelry is thoughtfully designed in Seattle & ethically made in Thailand. Their factory shares our belief in the importance of protecting the dignity and rights of their workers and the local environment.
This low waste jewelry brand uses recycled materials & designs accessories that can be endlessly recycled or composted to regenerate the earth.
ABLE creates sustainable business opportunities for women in Nashville who have overcome adversity. The social impact brand believes that generational poverty ends when people can provide for themselves and. This sustainable jewelry brand invests in, training, and educates women so they can earn a living, break the cycle of poverty, and thrive. The ultimate goal is to empower women, entire families and communities.
All of the jewelry pieces are made in-house using responsibly sourced and recycled materials from small-scale vendors offering fair wages and working conditions. Furthermore, all the scrap metal from the protection process is collected and sent off to a refinery that melts it down and processes it into new pieces of wire of sheets of gold and silver. Besides their social + eco values, ABLE is our one-stop shop for affordable jewelry and accessories.
6. Made Trade
No sustainable outfit is complete without responsibly made jewelry. From minimalist bracelets and geometric necklaces to gemstone earrings and hand stamped rings, Made Trade’s collection of ethically sourced and handcrafted jewelry will elevate your outfit and your mood.
Made Trade is an online brand and retailer for responsibly made goods, from ethical fashion to sustainably made home decor. Made Trade is your one-stop-shop for exceptionally designed, fair trade, sustainable, USA made, vegan and heritage products, all handmade by makers and artisans around the world. Check out Made Trade’s sustainable jewelry for treating yourself or giving as a thoughtful gift.
7. The Little Market
The Little Market is a nonprofit fair trade shop featuring ethically sourced, artisan-made products. Behind each of our products is a person who created it — and a story. The brand seeks to empower artisans around the world by extending their products’ distribution and supporting sustainable income opportunities. They are committed to upholding the dignity of artisans, celebrating their cultural techniques and traditions, and bringing attention to social justice and human rights issues faced by their communities.
Besides their extensive home and beauty collections, the brand comes with a range of handcrafted classics and conflict-free jewellery. The range is made of 14k gold-filled earrings and chains, simple statements that become the perfect staple to dress up your everyday look.
Each purchase empowers women in Cambodia who have access to fair, dignified employment, skills training, and educational opportunities. They practice an intricate wire wrapping technique to create delicate designs. The social enterprise Penh Lenh is dedicated to empowering skilled women entrepreneurs in Cambodia. The organization provides education, vocational training, career and professional skill development opportunities, and finance and budget training to young, resilient women. In a supportive, collaborative environment, they work as a team throughout the production process. The strong, empowered women can take pride in the fact that they are creating a beautiful piece of jewelry that is of high quality.
Urbankissed is a conscious online destination for sustainable fashion, skincare & home accessories. The brand endeavour is to offer a harmonious balance between conscious and delightful consumption and to inspire a mindful way of living for women seeking to wear their values.
Urbankissed features a large range of affordable, timeless fashion including a range of stunning jewelry accessories. The jewelry collections are made with recycled material from recycled old computer parts & electronics that will get you excited about a mindful urban way of living. They also allow you to personalise some jewelry items with 3D printed technology.
As a highlight, Urbankissed offers a well-trusted Slow & Ethical Index, including 15 standards along the supply chain which every product goes through before making the cut. Plus, all shipping and returns are 100% carbon neutral at no extra cost to the customer.
Host an ethical arm party with beautiful bracelets and other baubles handmade from natural sustainable and luxuriously upcycled materials. ACCOMPANY is a socially conscious platform that believes in one-of-a-kind accessories, made by artisans supporting the hand-made culture under fair trade standards. The company teams up with brands like Soko and Makua for the most original, ethically made jewelry one can find.
Memories aren’t made by machines. They’re made by hand. Intricately crafted. Immaculately honed.
This brand hand-makes one-of-a-kind, made-to-order personalised jewellery in 18-karat solid gold for people all around the world. These future heirlooms are finely-crafted, permanent, and sustainably produced. On the surface, it looks gold. But Verse thinks poetry and prefers to work in the medium of memory.
With Verse ethically-made jewelry you can find a beautiful collection of Love Letters necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Create a design and personalise with your own initials handcrafted heart and star charms to gift someone special. For you to make the memories, and Verse makes them last forever.
Daisy is a brand for women by women. At the heart of Daisy lies an adventure, a love for life, a need to explore. Daisy is the essence of the carefree London girl wherever you are in the world. Essential yet special, laid-back but polished, timeless yet meaningful.
Daisy London is a much-loved British jewellery brand known for beautiful, an everyday collection with meaning. These sustainable jewelry pieces have got the brand growing to cult status, fusing a bohemian state of mind with wearable, contemporary jewellery design.9
Scéona has created a supply chain from scratch to ensure the environment and human rights are preserved along the way. The brand truly invests in designing their own supply chain instead of tracing it back to its origin, achieving a mining-free, slavery-free and even plastic-free 18 karats recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds.
Scéona’s mission is to transform an old and opaque industry, by showing it is possible to craft beautiful fine jewellery that does not harm the planet and its people. The founders strongly believe in transparency, responsibility and knowledge sharing. Read the full interview with Scéona founders and how they achieve an ethical supply chain to source their gold here.
13. Holly Ryan
Holly Ryan is the artist and the maker behind the brand, and she draws inspiration everywhere from the earth to the ocean, using sustainable materials like recycled gold for her designs. Stones are responsibly sourced, either through Fairtrade in India or directly through local suppliers. Choosing sustainable helps to minimise our impact. With the collection, Holly Ryan seeks to minimise impact by creating timeless designs that are inspired by art and nature.
The brand is all about closed-loop manufacturing, with all of the jewelry is handmade using ethical stones and recycled materials and is made to order, preventing waste. The jewelry is also made to be minimalistic to also preserve waste materials. The function that stands out with Holly Ryan is that she offers a repair and recycle scheme. This encourages people to send in their old pieces to either get repaired, or consumers can also send in the old pieces they don’t wear anymore, which will then be turned into store credit.
14. IDYL Jewelry
IDYL is an ethically made luxury jewelry brand with a twist. They are based in Belgium and use lab-grown diamond and traceable gold so the consumer can know all there is to know about their jewelry. They say that their presses mimic rough natural diamonds and their in house team of designers and craftsmen will cut and polish the diamonds so they are of the best quality.
Their website is extremely transparent so it won’t take a customer long to learn that this company is concentrating on owning less but with giving the option of adding more onto their original pieces. They specialise in modular jewelry with mix and match in mind. The consumer buys their first stud in a range of materials which can then have other elements joined to it. If this isn’t what you are after then the consumer can simply purchase a complete set of earrings. Materials for their jewelry comes in 14K gold, white gold and rose gold so there is so much choice to go with any outfit
15. PI London
PI London brings antique pieces into the 21st century. While most sustainable jewelry brands are about obtaining ethically sourced materials, PI London is doing things a little bit different by concentrating in the slow fashion aspect. Sustainability isn’t just about sourcing sustainable materials but upcycling old materials too.
The brand finds the old and brings it to the modern era by using antique and vintage jewelry. With their jewelry being antique or vintage, not all rings will fit their owner so they offer a resizing service so that all jewelry will fit their owner to perfection. Ready to discover the stories and secret lives of antiques?
16. Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages is a global maker‑to‑market movement that breaks the cycle of generational poverty and ignites social change. For over 75 years, the brand has been a pioneer of the fair trade movement. The company has laid the groundwork for sustainable change in over 30 developing countries through empowerment and employment opportunities.
The sustainable jewelry collection is created by independent small-scale artisan groups, co-ops, and workshops. The pieces are crafted with love using local materials and time-honored skills. That means you can trust that every handmade purchase and donation you make directly has an impact on the life and community of its maker. Ten Thousand Villages is also our favorite stop for affordable, handmade gifts from around the world. Share in the joy of empowering makers in ten thousand villages!
Sacet is a beautiful brand that concentrates on its people and the planet over profit. We are all aware of the damaging impact of diamond mining on the environment, the people and its communities. The brand uses conflict-free diamonds due to all of their diamonds being lab-made, achieved by using cutting edge technology, our diamonds are grown in a laboratory and are visually and chemically identical to natural mined diamonds.
Sacet also uses recycled metals, semi-precious gemstones and all wrapped in sustainable packaging. Each piece is made to order which reduces waste materials making them extremely sustainable. When things couldn’t get much better, they go the extra mile by donating 100% of their manufacturing profits to develop their craftspeople, children’s education and health with the mission to give back to the community.
18. Laura Lombardi
Drawing on an eclectic fine arts background, rooted in sculpture and mixed media assemblage, Laura recontextualizes recycled materials and found objects. All brass used by Laura Lombardi is recycled. With the principle of sustainability being at the forefront of the Laura Lombardi brand, they use upcycled and recycled materials to create beautiful pieces of jewelry that will last a lifetime without harming the planet.
She balances this raw industrial style, influenced by New York City, with classical art motifs from Italy to create jewelry that is always tied to a memory. By reimagining their materials and purpose, she brings these notions of the past into the present. Whenever possible, this sustainable jewelry brand makes its designs by hand using vintage deadstock materials. Laura also cares about small local businesses so she hires small businesses to help out in her process meaning it is giving local independent businesses a share of the bigger market.
19. ZM Jewelry by Zoe Morton
Zoe Morton is all about transparency, and this is key to many consumers buying habits in the modern-day person. Whether it’s transparency over its materials, pay their workers earn, or how they help others around them to ensure an ethical and sustainable jewelry brand.
All the products are cast from recycled metals; solid brass silver or gold are the materials of choice as she doesn’t like to gold plate anything. This is due to it not lasting, as well as it being very hard to recycle once coated meaning it isn’t as sustainable. ZM jewelry is created in London and workers get fair pay as well as the workers in the sustainable mines in Sri Lanka. Their packaging is made from recycled materials in Cornwall which are also compostable. Finally, the brand plants a tree for every piece of jewelry sold.
Akola means “she works” in Uganda and this says everything about the company. Akola is a brand created by women who hire Ugandan women to create their jewelry. Providing life-changing job opportunities for women “who have been forgotten; who have nothing, but give everything.” Today they employ nearly 200 women in Uganda to make each piece of Akola jewelry through vertically integrated manufacturing. The ultimate goal is to empower women by helping them own their property or land, keep their kids in school, gain the skills to generate additional income, and operate as a leader in her community. Akola creates jobs that help women rebuild inner confidence, strength, and the determination to realize their full potential.
Besides creating beautiful designs to lift up and champion women around the world, the brand uses natural and recycled materials such as horn, glass, raffia and more. Akola is achieving their goals by helping the poorest people to support their families whilst creating beautiful pieces of jewelry, without harming the planet. Akola jewelry is meant for women who want to make a difference.
21. Emma Aitchison
Emma Aitchinson is an established honest slow fashion jewelry brand based in the UK. They use sustainable production methods and ethical processes in their business. Emma’s passion for nature and life in all forms is the key source of inspiration for her designs. The sustainable jewelry designer aims to unearth the beauty of varying weather forms to celebrate the slight imbalance of weather patterns can have on our planet. Emma hopes her jewellery acts as a reminder of the beauty and joy nature brings and in turn the ever-pressing need to protect and care for it for future generations.
All the sustainable jewelry materials are 100% recycled and the gems they rarely use are already in circulation so no unethical sourcing in any of their materials. The brand also makes sure that all of their suppliers have the correct certification for full transparency. They waste nothing as they melt scraps and make them into new jewelry as well as having sustainable packaging. The icing on the cake is that they always contribute 5% of their profits to a given charity.
22. Meadowlark Jewelry
Many brands are not honest in how they go about their business with little to no transparency, meaning that they can say whatever they want. However, with Meadowlark this is completely the opposite. They know they are not perfect but they are paving the way for innovative sustainable business, and continuously working to improve their closed-loop manufacturing.
The brand’s focus is to make sure the materials used meet social and environmental responsibility standards, therefore Meadowlark sources only from fully traceable materials. This sustainable jewellery by its very nature is a circular product – it can be repaired and recycled into new pieces, and all their metal scrap from their workroom is recycled back into the system, thereby creating no waste. Utmost, Meadowlark design philosophy embraces both creativity and timeless quality, and they work hard to promote jewellery’s inherent qualities of longevity to maximise the life of these beautiful pieces.
Mejuri is the new luxury. Handcrafted like the olden days, but designed for the golden days ahead. While history says fine jewelry for occasions, the brand wants you to forget about the “special occasions” to wear it every day. The brand offers rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets that are handcrafted by specializing jewelers around the world such as Italy, India, or South Korea, but without the traditional luxury 8-10x markups.
Traceability is important for Mejuri because it allows to validate the authenticity of the material and improve the social and environmental impacts of our pieces. The materials include cultured freshwater pearls, genuine mineral stones, and diamonds that are ethically sourced from suppliers who follow conflict-free practices. Produced in small quantities, Mejuri also drops new limited-edition items every week.
The woman-owned and operated brand Catbird makes their own jewelry entirely in-house at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With more than 40 fairly paid jewelers and artisans on-site, the team crafts dainty, delicate, and stunning pieces of jewelry for everyday wear and beyond. From rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, kitten mittens, to personalised jewelry to engagement and wedding rings.
As a sustainable jewelry brand, all pieces use recycled and ethically sourced gold, conflict-free and responsibly sourced stones. Furthermore, catbird is a proud member of the CFDA, is certified Made in New York™ and is a member of No Dirty Gold. Plus, the Catbird Giving Fund donates one percent of all sales (not just profits!) to organizations like the ACLU and the Food Bank of New York City.
Born out of NYC, Aurate crafts the delicate, stunning gold jewelry that we love, made with 100 percent recycled gold! Inspired by NYC icons (think historic building doorknobs and the Brooklyn Bridge), all of the sustainable jewelry pieces in this collection come with flair and style, making this line perfect for the modern woman. The brand believes that every woman deserves jewelry that lives up to the high bar she sets, and the brand works hard to meet it.
So Aurate focuses on durable materials built for everyday wear and tear, transparent pricing as friendly as your neighbor’s dog, sustainable production to offset our carbon footprint, and tangible giving for a sparkling conscience. Crafted by seventh-generation craftspeople (yes, seven), you know you’ll look and feel your best flaunting Aurate. You’ll rise to the gold standard in every way. Each of our pieces is designed and handmade using ethically sourced and sustainably made 14K gold, 18K gold, and 14K gold-plated vermeil. The brand dives a little deeper by harvesting our larger pearls from the South Sea with the highest quality AAA-grade and our smaller Akoya style pearls straight from Japan. Fine jewelry designed to be worthy of the women who wear it.
26. Jewelry 31 Bits
31 Bits works with Javanese artisans who have spent years studying and perfecting the craft of creating jewelry from brass. These artisans are able to work full-time, allowing them to provide for their families, send their kids to school, and put money into savings. For them, it’s not just about making money, it’s about doing something they love. From the first cut of brass to the soldering and sanding to the final polish, the long and intricate process of creating a piece of jewelry is creative, expressive, and fulfilling.
The brand also works with over 80 artisans in Uganda, who make jewelry out of beautiful, recycled paper beads. After five years of training, business courses, mentorships and so much more, our Ugandan artisans leave our program empowered and thriving – and running small businesses of their own! And everything the fair trade jewelry brand does is funded through product sales. That means your purchases directly impact and empower women around the globe.
27. Omi Woods
Omi Woods jewelry are contemporary heirlooms that celebrate all of our connections to Africa and her diaspora. Inspired by her grandmother Doreen Salmon and the African diaspora, Ashley Alexis McFarlane launched this brand as a line of contemporary heirloom jewelry to honor their culture.
The brand’s sustainable jewelry is individually and ethically handmade with fair trade African gold and globally sourced conflict-free fine metals contributing to improved health care, education, safety and living conditions on the continent. Omi Woods is grounded in a love for timeless silhouettes, with the range of jewelry as well as apparel using rich cultural textiles, and eco-friendly practices.
28. Stefano Navi
We will continue to keep this blog updated, so if you have a suggestion of a similar sustainable jewelry brand please share in the comments below!