This blogpost is also available in German / auf Deutsch
All that glitters is not gold, or better said: diamonds can be deceptive. Behind many precious stones and metals are exploitative and environmentally harmful conditions. In particular for gold mining environmentally harmful substances that pollute the water and the environment are used. Mining the gold for a single gold ring causes nearly 20 tonnes of residue, including toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, mercury and cyanide. But it’s not only the environment that suffers, but also people: The mining of precious metals and stones is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In addition to the immediate risks of injury, many workers also struggle with long-term consequences such as lung cancer, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. Small prospectors risk their lives to procure the precious metals, whole indigenous tribes lose their land, which is culturally and spiritually important for them, and are brutally repressed, all violent conflicts are financed with this industry (keyword blood diamonds) and the human rights violations are hard to put into words … (Source: Earth Works – No Dirty Gold ).
What can you do?
I am glad that my engagement ring was not a new diamond but an heirloom. I would prefer to not buy any new jewelry, but only vintage pieces, fair trade jewelry or jewelry made from recycled materials. For many, this is not an option, in this case I think one should pay attention that the materials are at least certified, as well as try to support smaller companies. This is not always easy, but there are now a few certifications that place emphasis on better working conditions and environmental standards. Here are a few tips:
- Ask the jeweler where the gold comes from and whether they sell fair trade and conflict-free jewelry. At least that also makes the jewelry retailers more aware, the more such inquiries come, the better!
- Fair Trade Germany, for example, lists all jewelers in Germany who sell Fair Trade Certified Gold, here ! And Fair Trade Germany also has a list of goldsmiths using fair trade materials. here !
- There are other certifications, such as the non-profit Responsible Jewelery Council ( link ), but according to Humans Right Watch, too few companies adhere to fair trade standards and are able to really trace back the production chain (source and detailed report here ) – so always be critical!
- But note: ecologically mined gold is simply more expensive to get and therefore much more expensive to buy, even smaller companies that produce jewelry by hand from recycled materials, of course, can not offer low prices! AND: Smaller companies in particular can not afford the expensive fair trade silver, however if they grow, maybe they will be able to in the future. That’s why I think it’s important to support smaller, fair-fashion companies!
Every little step counts – even if you do not buy anything!
As you can see, the whole topic is highly complex and not easy to solve! It is most important to be aware of the topic and to do some research. Secondly, as with the Who Made My Clothes campaign, it is important to always ask, “Where does my jewelry come from, where do the materials come from,” especially from your favorite brands, even if you do not want to buy a new piece of jewelry right now. Awareness is the most important and the more demand there is, the faster brands will address the issue. But I have noticed that some companies in the jewelry industry, in contrast to the fashion, react a little more irritated to inquiries than when I ask fashion companies about cotton and organic cotton, but this is just my experience! I think it takes a lot of time to find the right materials and the market is highly competitive – just my assessment!
Fair Shopping Tips
As I’ve been researching sustainable jewelry and labels lately, I’ve also put together a list of 30 brands that offer sustainable and fair jewelery. It was important for me to introduce you to companies that are a bit smaller, that have started cool initiatives and / or care about recycled and fair materials. Not all companies are 100% sustainable or fair, but they all take steps in the right direction and already do a lot! It is especially difficult for small companies to always use ethically perfect materials, especially since the fair trade mines are very expensive and require high minimum purchase quantities. I think this is certainly interesting for you as background knowledge! For this reason, recycled materials are important for many smaller companies, as well as a first focus on fair jewelery production and fair working conditions. Let me know which pieces you like the most! A few links are affiliate links (noted next to the link), you can find out more about what that means at the bottom of the post.
1. People Tree: the jewelry by Fair Fashion Label People Tree (Affiliate Link ) is produced Fair Trade through Social Initiatives and under each article you will also find detailed information on production. There is a separate page with information and stories about each initiative! People Tree works with, among others, the Bombolulu Initiative in Kenya, which uses a lot of recycled brass. Here are a few products listed as affiliate links:
2. Sacet – The company currently uses 100% recycled silver. In the future, as the company continues to increase sales, Sacet wants to support smaller silver mines that operate under fair trade principles. Sacet is also honest and admits that they can not implement everything right away, which is why for gemstones they focus on fair working conditions for the refinement of the gemstones (which often happens under bad working conditions as well). The gems are sourced from factories that guarantee fair working conditions, with Sacet planning to make the sourcing process even more transparent in the future. I find such honesty super important! My favorites from Sacet are the wave collection by blogger Sarah Mikaela , I find it so beautiful:
3. Fremdformat: The German company is exemplary when it comes to the supply chain! Fremdformat mainly uses industrial materials, which come from leftover scrap from the metalworking industry. For gold-plated pieces in the collection, recycled gold or silver is used. Precious metals and stones, which are sourced under questionable conditions in the jewelry industry, are completely omitted. AND the designs are just beautiful !!! But check it our for yourself in the webshop ! You can also find Fremdformat jewelry on Loveco (Affiliate Link) and on Glore (Affiliate Link).
4. Taj Amsterdam: I only discovered this label at Fashion Week this year in January and fell in love with it immediately !! The designs are beautiful, have a bit of a boho style and super versatile! And best of all, the company makes fair trade and only uses recycled silver and gold from old jewelery, old silverware (such as forks, knives, spoons, bowls, plates) and chandeliers, as well as artificial gems, so as to not promote blood diamonds. You can find out exactly what artificial gems are on the Taj Amsterdam website! Go to the shop here !
5. Wild Fawn Jewelery – minimalist designs with a little twist is how I would describe the jewelery from Wild Fawn ! All materials are either recycled silver or fair trade gold. All pieces are produced in London. You can find the designs on loveco (affiliate link).
6. Ombre Claire – I discovered this label this year at the Fashion Week in Berlin in the Green Showroom and immediately fell in love! As far as I understand, it’s mostly made from recycled silver and other sustainable materials! The details are so beautiful and the prices really fair for the elaborate production. So check out go to the webshop !
7. Jyoti Fairworks: I have already worked a lot with Jyoti Fairworks in the fashion niche! The company also sells brass fair trade jewelry , which is really beautiful! The materials are 100% recycled brass, and they value sustainability and fair working conditions.
8. SOKO uses mainly recycled brass, super sustainable and fair! It is also produced under fair working conditions in smaller craft shops. Here, SOKO ensures that the majority of the profits really stay on site and that the small businesses can operate sustainably. SOKO helps to counteract the topic of micro-economies and how smaller companies can not sustainably finance themselves. You can find out more about how they do this here on the SOKO website . But because the producers also use horn and bone remains for sustainability reasons, not all products are vegan! Just so you are aware.
9. Studio Jux uses mainly recycled brass and produces fair trade in Nepal. The designs are timeless, beautiful and, in my opinion, affordable! Again, you can find most pieces just at loveco (affiliate link).
10. Edge of Ember: The super chic and fashionable London company Edge of Ember guarantees that the products are produced without child labor, exploitation, in a safe working environment, with fair pay and wherever possible also with sustainable materials. Here is a small but fine selection of really beautiful pieces (affiliate links):
Incidentally, I also wear the Choker from Edge of Ember in a video:
11. A Beautiful Story: There really is a “Beautiful Story” behind the label and I love that the jewelry is made in Nepal! When I visited Nepal, I learned about the craftsmanship in the country, but unfortunately it is increasingly being lost due to low price jewelry. That is why it is important to have fair trade initiatives that support the local population, but also preserve traditional craftsmanship! Here again an affiliate link selection to my favorite pieces:
12. See Me: This label supports women who have been victims of violence and gives them a safe and fair job. Again, affiliate links:
13. Kaligarh: The Fair Trade Label from Nepal is also a very personal favorite of mine, as I have already visited the production sites in Nepal! For the full story about the company and my visit, check it out here! Yes, the products are all a bit more expensive, but they are all super elaborate, which I was able to see first hand. You will find all the info in my linked blog post and in the video. By the way, you can find jewelry from Kaligarh on Etsy (affiliate links):
14. Folkdays brings together various fair trade manufacturers from around the world, including producers of beautiful jewelry. Folkdays strives for a long-lasting partnership with craftsmen, and purchases the products directly from them at a fair price. The goal is to help local manufacturers keep the traditions of their craft alive and support them with a sustainable, stable income. Go here for the webshop.
15. Made – I discovered them years ago. This company uses 100% recycled brass and the products are produced fair trade in Kenya in their own facility. The great thing is that the company relies on collaborations with big street and high fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Topshop and Asos to bring the fair trade issue to a masses! The designs are beautiful! Go here to check out the store!
16. Tribe Alive – The shop helps disadvantaged women to escape poverty by guaranteeing a safe and fair workplace. Again, much of the work is done with brass! Here is a small selection of pieces (affiliate links):
17. Concrete Jungle – here I wanted to introduce you to something else. They use different materials and have a different concept: Concrete Jungle produces jewelry out of concrete, which, despite the material, looks delicate and elegant! I discovered the brand on Avocadostore and thought that you might like it too! Click here to go to the webshop. They buy the silver chains from a German company.
18. Luxaa – According to Luxaa, all of their articles come from reliable sources. In resource extraction and production, great care is taken to adhere to adequate and eco-social processes. You can find Luxaa jewelry on Showroom (affiliate link) and here’s a selection of products:
19. Winden Jewelry – this shop is also very transparent and honest and explains that while they always strive to use 100% certified recycled materials, it is not always possible. But this is explained in detail on the website ! The designs are SO beautiful, have a look in the webshop !
20. I discovered Pikefine via Avocadostore. Most of the jewelry is made in Germany. A few pieces are made in Greece in a small goldsmith’s shop in Thessaloniki, mainly from recycled materials. Click here for the webshop on Avocadostore.
In addition, I found some brands on Etsy that hand make jewelry from recycled silver and other sustainable and fair materials. There is not quite as much information in the Etsy shop profiles as on the pages presented above, but if you want to know more, you can also write to the individual shops. Sometimes the shops have high shipping costs, but some of the piece are worth the 10 euros shipping, at least in my opinion!
21. Hummingbird Hawkmoth – all products are made by the shop owner herself. Most pieces are made from recycled sterling silver and the packaging materials are also mainly made from recycled materials! Here is the shop (affiliate link) and here’s a small selection (affiliate links):
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22. Ara The Altar – the handcrafted pieces by shop owner Lauren are made almost entirely from recycled materials. She also pays close attention to sustainability when it comes to packaging. You can check out the shop here (affiliate link) and here’s a small selection (affiliate links):
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23. Callia Jewelry – If you’re into boho, this is the place for you! Callia works with the Muse Group, a non-profit company to help women in Cote d’Ivoire out of poverty. Click here to go to the shop (Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (Affiliate Links):
24. Theodore Sloane – Many products are made from recycled materials. As with most shops, rings can be made-to-order, so you can ask specifically for recycled materials! Here is the shop (Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (Affiliate Links):
25. Loving Sun Jewelry: The profile of this Slovenian shop is beautiful to read and most of the products are made from recycled materials (not all yet, but that’s the goal of owner Janja). Check out the beautiful boho pieces, I love them! Check out the shop (Affiliate link) and here is a small selection (affiliate links):
26. Francy Jewel – This shop is a bit more playfully romantic than I like, but super cute and maybe there is something that some of you guys might like. Here is the shop (Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (Affiliate Links):
27. Ethically Enchanted – Here you will find vintage items and antiques, some of them very expensive and some a bit too cheesy for my taste, but they also have some really cool jewelry here. Click here for the shop (Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (Affiliate Links):
28. Handmade Ninalu – Here you’ll find super minimalistic jewelery with simple yet stylish designs! Click here for the shop (Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (Affiliate Links):
29. Ethical Jewelry Emilie Bliguet: If you are looking for fair trade gold jewelry from Fair Trade mines, you will find it here. As I said, fair trade gold is not cheap, so the prices are slightly higher than you might be used to. But for that price you will be able to shop with a clear conscience and the designs are also unique! Click here to go to the shop ( Affiliate Link) and here is a small selection (affiliate links):
30. Tiny Sparkle Studio – Roses as far as the eyes can see! Again, the pieces are made from recycled materials! Click here to go to the shop (affiliate link) and here is a small selection (affiliate links):
Which is your favorite???