If you're looking to invest in ethical fashion this year, it's not a huge leap to assume you'll be interested in making sure your jewellery purchases are more ethical, too.
It's always tempting to impulse buy affordable trend-led pieces, but it would be a little counter-productive. For starters, you might fall out of love with them in a season, but more importantly, you don't know how they're made.
If you want to change the way you shop and invest in some pieces that will last and won't make you feel guilty, you've come to the right place.
Scroll down for some pointers on how to spot an ethical jewellery brand and then shop the ethical jewellery brands we love below.
What is ethical jewellery?
In a nutshell, it's jewellery that has no negative impact on the people who make it, or the environment they're produced in. That can mean:
- Using materials you can trace back to the source, to ensure they've been produced in an ethical way, eg, fair trade materials and conflict-free diamonds
- Using recycled materials, such as gemstones
- Using synthetic diamonds
- Not using child labour and ensuring fair wages and working hours
- Not using practices that pollute or impact the environment in a negative way
What are ethical diamonds?
Leonardo DiCaprio's 2006 Blood Diamonds really shed light on the issue of conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds, as they're mined in areas controlled by rebels, who then use the money to buy weapons or finance war activities.
So to avoid buying any conflict diamonds, you want to be able to trace their origin. Nowadays, it's possible to buy synthetically farmed diamonds (don't worry, the quality can be just good) or buy diamonds from a jeweller who adheres to the Kimberley Process, which ensures that exported diamonds are conflict-free.
You can also go down the antique route as you're effectively recycling an older diamond.
More and more jewellery brands are venturing into lab grown diamonds. Pandora launched its first collection in 2021, whilst brands such as Lark & Berry, Leo & Lumi and Kimai all focus on creating jewellery with man-made diamonds.
There is still some confusion around the process, with many people unsure as to whether lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. The short answer is yes. In fact, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, as the quality is the same: think carat, cut, colour and clarity. They are created in a rough uncut form, and then cut and polished into shape, much like a mined diamond. More importantly, there is no doubt they are ethically and sustainably sourced.
Lab-grown diamonds also tend to be a little cheaper than mined diamonds, as you are cutting out the mining process and there is less of a mark-up.
Shop the best ethical jewellery brands:
Want to know where to shop some beautiful ethical jewellery brands? From Alighieri to Roxanne First, Wald to Vashi, scroll down to treat yourself to some of our favourites (in no particular order).
Pioneers of ‘demi-fine’ jewellery, Missoma design cult-status pieces that champion self-expression – handcrafted, responsibly sourced, and designed in-house in their studios in Notting Hill, London. Sustainability has become a core part of Missoma’s mission, and they are passionately committed to pushing themselves and their industry to build a better future. Having already achieved so much over the last few years – from partnering with environmental charity TreeSisters since 2018, to their recycled metals (100% of Missoma’s new silver and gold vermeil collections are made from recycled silver), Kimberley Process certified diamonds, and becoming members of the Responsible Jewellery Council – Missoma are dedicated to giving you an extra layer of transparency this year, bringing you up to speed when it comes to their factories and manufacturing processes.
As far as transparency goes, Monica Vinader has an entire section dedicated to exactly that on the brand's website. The label has introduced a new product passport as a part of its sustainability program which allows you to trace a product's journey from conception to completion.
In addition to this, Monica Vinader only uses 100% recycled gold and sterling silver, helping to reduce the brand's emissions by 2/3. And as far as diamonds are concerned, all of them are responsibly sourced.
Zoe Morton established her namesake label with the mission to challenge the jewellery industry and create a product people can be proud of wearing, but also with a design focus on pieces that remind you of travels and the special moments in life – a way to carry those memories with you physically. With a traceable supply chain and production in the UK and Bali, ZM Jewellery also work with Ecologi to off-set the brand’s carbon footprint and plant a tree for every order placed.
Kimaï is paving the way as an innovative jewellery brand whose mission is to redefine modern luxury by using lab-grown diamonds and fully recycled 18kt gold to create unique pieces of jewellery with complete visibility. The lab-grown diamonds used are chemically and physically identical to mined ones without ethical or environmental consequences. We're in love with their new alternative engagement ring collection.
Roxanne First jewellery is a great destination if you're looking for fine jewellery with conflict-free and ethical diamonds and metals. They handpick suppliers who they visit personally, ensuring every piece is made from responsibly sourced materials. The prices are fair too, as they've cut the middle man and sell direct to the consumer, meaning you get affordable diamonds, without compromising on quality.
Atteya, from the Arabic ‘Atiya’ meaning gift, is an ethical fine jewellery brand for the modern and conscious. Inspired by ancient talismans and natural forms found on travels far and near, Atteya jewellery holds a unique and timeless individuality. It's made from recycled precious metals and ethically sourced stones, and handmade using green energy in England. Atteya’s ethical gifts are categorised into three overarching collections, In Wood, In Water and Talisman, evolving naturally over time. The brand also gives back 5% of its profits to social and environmental charities.
The brand creates beautiful and sustainable jewellery with a contemporary twist. Their collections include the Flower Collection - an edit of necklaces featuring 'birth month' flowers, the Stone Collection and a number of stunning rings, earrings and necklaces. All Francesca Dot jewellery is sustainable and ethically produced, made from recycled 925 sterling silver & 18kt gold, from Responsible Jewellery Council certified companies. In addition to using sustainable materials, Francesca Dot's pieces are produced in small production runs, from artisan jewelers. They are passionate about the planet, and ensure all packaging is made from recyclable or reusable materials.
Milly Grace creates responsibly made high-quality pieces without the traditional retail mark-up. She only works with ethically credited suppliers, and works towards a circular economy by: sourcing recycled 925 sterling silver (from unwanted jewellery or unused electronic and medical equipment), FSC certified recyclable branded packaging.
UK based Alice Gwyneth launched her eponymous brand in 2018 and specialises in the sustainable and ethical design of jewellery and homeware. Every piece is handmade by Alice herself, and made to order to ensure there is no stock or material wastage. Creating her collections from the lost art of wax casting, Alice makes her jewellery from eco sterling silver and recycled gold and brass and uses the finest ethically sourced gemstones.
Shyla is a morally motivated jewellery brand founded by London-based designer Alice Blofeld. Inspired by her love for vintage jewellery, she creates carved hydro glass hoop earrings and chunky glass stone rings using recycled materials. Shyla works with several small charities educating some of the poorest women in India by teaching them a craft they can learn to support and sustain their families. It also uses recycled gold and silver and all packaging is recycled.
Launched in 2012, this jewellery brand is inspired by Wonderland. The designer, Rocio Canals, is the multifaceted creative that goes behind the name of Wilhelmina Garcia a pseudonym and magical persona that she created to design and reinvented herself again through the jewellery where she tells stories.