Eco friendly jewelry may seem like an oxymoron, since jewelry has forever been made by plundering the Earth of its natural and mineral resources. However, it IS possible to find earth friendly accessories these days. It just takes knowledge of what to look for as you sift the facts from the greenwashing.
While wasing through the literature for various jewelry suppliers you will find that many now talk about their eco friendly credentials. They may identify all the links in their supply chains, use only fair trade gold, and claim guarantees of conflict-free diamonds.
Other designers and companies take it a whole step further by refusing to sell mined diamonds entirely, using only recycled metals and making new jewelry designs from old pieces. This is all good, but there’s even more you can do to make sure you purchase truly earth friendly jewelry.
Here are six tips for sourcing ethical jewelry that’s gentle on the environment.
1) Buy local. This doesn’t only apply to food. A piece of handmade jewelry made by a local artist can be a very special piece and it enables you to ask all the right questions. What materials are they using? Where did they source them?
2) Buy recycled. Ask whether the precious metal used in a piece of eco friendly jewelry has been recycled. There is little excuse these days for not using recycled material as precious metals can be reclaimed from existing jewelry, industrial-use metals, and electronics components. Precious metals can be recycled repeatedly with no compromise to quality. Precious stones can also be recycled – reducing the demand for new mines that damage the local ecology.
3) Buy man-made. Ever hear of cultured diamonds? They are man-made diamonds that are indistinguishable from natural diamonds, are every bit of beautiful, and are sold at only a fraction of the cost. Unlike cubic zirconiums, cultured diamonds are real diamonds, just made in a lab instead of dug up from the Earth.
4) Look for certification. If your supplier is marketing their products as fair trade, then be sure to confirm that they have been Fairtrade certified. There are currently Fairtrade standards for gold and they are working on standards for diamonds. If you’re unsure, check with the certification body in your country (e.g. Fair Trade USA).
5) Avoid jewelry made from living things. Coral jewelry is ever so popular at the beach, but we’ve all heard the horror stories about how endangered our precious coral reefs are. Why make the matter worse by funding ecologically unwise practices? If you like the look of coral, consider imitation coral jewelry instead–some of which looks quite convincing.
6) Do your research. It is perfectly legitimate to ask as many questions as necessary to satisfy yourself that what you are purchasing is truly eco friendly jewelry. Again, this will always be easiest when there are fewer steps between you and the supplier. So, I stress again the value of buying locally.
If you’re doing research, try these websites as a starting point for finding earth friendly accessories, as well as for getting a better idea of what to look for in eco friendly jewelry generally.
Green Karat Eco-Jewelry This vendor company flat out opposes diamond mining of any kind, and provides very detailed and well-sourced information on their reasons for not selecting Canadian diamonds or other conflict-free diamonds. They almost exclusively use recycled gold. They also have a refreshing attitude in that they are very open about what they have achieved but also what needs to be improved. Each product comes with a Green Assay, which tells the consumer whether the metals and alloys are recycled, whether the small parts (findings) are recycled, whether the gems have been ecologically mined, and whether the metals come from an ecologically certified refinery.
Novica in association with National Geographic: This website gives artists and artisans around the world a global platform to sell their wares. Each piece is handcrafted and with each item there is a description of the process of how it is made including the materials used as well as a photo and description of the artist. Many of the pieces are made from recycled or renewable materials.
It is a fact that most of the things we value most in our jewelry, such as precious metals and stones, are taken out of the Earth. However, these materials are also infinitely recyclable and so by asking the right questions and doing a little research, it is possible to find the perfect eco friendly jewelry for you.