Your Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Jewelry

Over the past years, ethical and sustainable fashion, including sustainable jewelry, have gained traction due to the growing threat climate change poses to the future of our planet. But what is sustainable and ethical jewelry? Read on to find out. 

What Is Sustainable Jewelry?

Jewelry is considered sustainable if it was crafted with minimal impact on both the environment and the people making it at each step in the supply chain. Sustainable jewelry encourages quality over quantity and is meant to last.

When jewelry is responsibly sourced, it supports the livelihoods of different communities around the world, thereby contributing to an ethical global jewelry market. In sum, sustainable or ethical jewelry provides great style without hurting the environment or the people involved in producing it. 

Types of Sustainable Jewelry

Just like in the world of sustainable fashion, jewelry brands can take different routes to be defined as sustainable.

While some make sustainable earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings using recycled or upcycled materials, others focus on producing jewelry that doesn’t harm the environment, like lab-grown diamonds. A third group may use their brand to uplift marginalized communities or empower women by hiring them to make jewelry under fair, ethical conditions. 

Here’s a look at the different types of sustainable jewelry: 

Ethical Jewelry

Mining is one of the most harmful practices in the jewelry industry. It harms the environment by polluting the air, producing excessive water waste, and damaging ecosystems. That’s why sustainable jewelry is considered ethical: it doesn’t require mining to be made (e.g. lab-grown diamonds or recycled jewelry pieces). 

However, some brands that use mining to produce their jewelry make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint by cutting down their gas emissions and water waste, which is also a step in the right direction. 

Recycled Jewelry

When you shop recycled jewelry, you know you contribute to keeping landfills from being clogged by giving vintage pieces new life. Some brands take unwanted metal jewelry and create new beautiful pieces out of them that you can buy. You may also find vintage jewelry in thrift shops or donate your own unwanted pieces to be made into something new. 

Fair Trade Products 

Lastly, Fair Trade products ensure that workers aren’t exploited. This includes providing them with fair wages and safe working conditions while protecting their environment. Fair Trade also refers to conflict-free products like conflict-free gold or recycled silver. To ensure a brand engages in Fair Trade practices, check its products for certification by the World Fair Trade Organization or by another third-party organization. 


Shopping for ethical and sustainable jewelry is a great way to contribute to the well-being of communities around the world and the future of our planet. Whether you go for vintage, recycled, or fair trade pieces, buying ethically sourced and made jewelry will not only help you enhance your style but also allow you to live with purpose and intention.

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