As we enter an age where people are making a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly, all jewelry industries are trying to adopt a sustainable and ethical mode of production. Regardless of how nice the words sustainable and ethical look in a politically woke tweet, many of us do not know what these words truly mean concerning industry and production.
Put simply, sustainable jewelry is jewelry created with sustainable materials. This means using materials in a way that won’t negatively impact the environment. Sustainable jewelry is also called ethical jewelry because it is made using an ethical mode of production.
To help you learn more about sustainable jewelry, we have put together this beginner’s guide to sustainable and ethical jewelry for you. Discover now！
What Is Sustainable Jewelry?
By the simplest definition, sustainable jewelry is jewelry made from sustainable materials. Here sustainable materials refer to any materials that do not negatively impact the environment or the community as a whole. On the other hand, sustainable materials are materials collected in an ethical way that gives back to workers and doesn’t harm communities.
Above all, we must first closely evaluate what the words ‘sustainable’ mean when it comes to sustainable jewelry. By definition, sustainability is the ability of something to last for a long time. When something is sustainable, it means that you can use or create that thing without the fear of running out of materials or harming future generations.
As for sustainable materials for jewelry, recyclable, waste, or renewable materials contribute to the sustainable development of the environment.
Sustainable Jewelry is when you sustainably create jewelry. The materials you use should be gathered ethically without compromising the sustainability of other communities. For instance, suppose you are collecting rare jewels from a mine in Africa. You must ensure you are not harming any communities by mining there.
Furthermore, you must also ensure that the miners extracting jewels for you are properly paid. And recently, scientists manufactured lab-made diamonds. Using man-made diamonds can prevent unethical means of extraction and exploitation in the mining or diamond curating industry.
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However, to truly understand what sustainable jewelry is, we have to evaluate what ‘ethical’ means as well. The dictionary definition of ethical is abiding by moral principles. The concept is quite vague but the sentiment is simple; do not harm others and try to make the world a better place. The ethical production of jewelry is an umbrella term that encapsulates various other terms such as “green jewelry”, “peace jewelry”, “fair trade jewelry” etc.
Despite having different names, sustainable jewelry and ethical jewelry are by principle the same thing. However, sustainable jewelry is not just something industry professionals should know. As consumers, it is important to buy jewelry that is ethically produced. It is only through the collaborative efforts of manufacturers and buyers that sustainable jewelry can make a positive impact on the sustainable development of the world.
Why Support Sustainable Jewelry?
Despite supporting a good cause, sustainable jewelry has earned a reputation of either being low quality or too expensive. While judging sustainable jewelry it is important to remember that it is good and bad in every industry. Adding in the fact that jewelry is related to subjective taste, it is better to do your research rather than take generalizations as dogma.
Aside from the matter of quality and beauty, there is so much more than replenishing the narrative surrounding sustainable jewelry. Here are a few reasons you should support sustainable or ethical jewelry.
1. Sustainable Jewelry Protects The Environment
A big goal of sustainable jewelry is to protect the environment. A lot of sustainable jewelry is made from recyclable products. When we think of recycling, our minds immediately go to plastic bottles or metal cans. However, when it comes to jewelry, there are other forms of recycling too. For instance, you could melt down an old gold chain and reuse the gold to make a ring.
Furthermore, sustainable jewelry also uses waste materials. Reusing materials protects resources and makes them last longer. You may be skeptical about the type of jewelry made from reused products. However, a little research will show that various types of beautiful jewelry can be made using sustainable products.
2. Sustainable Jewelry Practices Fair Trade
Fair Trade is a method of practicing business with other countries. There is a long history of large corporations outsourcing work to developing countries and exploiting workers. The conditions under which overseas workers work are inhumane. On top of that, the pay they receive is very low. Outsourcing work such as this exploits workers and sometimes violates child labor laws.
Fair Trade is a policy where transparency is maintained at all times. A member of the FLO observes the agreement between both parties and ensures nothing exploitive or illegal is happening. Sustainable jewelry practices Fair Trade, ensuring a proper work environment for workers along with proper payment.
3. You Can Support Small Or Independent Businesses
Some of the biggest advocates for sustainable jewelry have been small or independent businesses. Most corruption comes from large corporations. Many large brands have made efforts to practice ethical trade and production. However, due to the large chain command system, it is hard for consumers to ensure the company is practicing ethical production.
To support ethical jewelry, many people turn to smaller businesses. Many independent businesses were founded with the sole purpose of advocating sustainable jewelry. Supporting these businesses is a good way of getting the message of sustainable development to a larger audience.
4. Support Minorities And Developing Countries
Sustainable jewelry can also help employ minorities or people from developing countries. There is a lot of corruption in how the jewelry industry employs developing countries to extract gold or diamonds. However, if done right, without exploitation, sustainable jewelry can help create jobs in developing countries.
Furthermore, the main goal of sustainable jewelry is to abide by sustainable development goals. In doing this, supporting sustainable jewelry promotes the message of sustainable development goals to a wider audience. If more people are aware of ethical consumption, it will be easier for the world and all communities to move forward with sustainable living.
5. Inspire People Around You
By supporting ethical jewelry, you can inspire people around you to do the same. A lot of the time people do not support ethical causes simply because they don’t know any better. Seeing you be environmentally conscious, will inspire those around you to do their research.
Sustainable jewelry is still an unfamiliar concept to many people. Their unawareness of the topic is what prevents people from fully supporting it. By being an advocate for sustainable jewelry, you can be the guiding hand who helps your friends enter the world of ethical production.
Practicing Sustainable Jewelry Habits
Buying sustainable jewelry can be tricky to get into. Since it isn’t a mainstream topic yet, you may not be sure how to approach buying sustainable jewelry. Here are a few things you should consider before buying sustainable jewelry.
1. Do Proper Research
Sustainable consumption is all about research. Before buying from a particular brand you need to do proper research. Go to a brand’s website and look into its sustainable development goals. Many brands may also have charities or nonprofit organizations they support. Following a brand’s online activity can tell you a lot about its values.
Do proper research on the brands you support so that their values match yours. Even in organizations that have the best intentions, there can be a lot of corruption going on behind the scenes. Look through a brand’s history and story carefully. You may also want to look at any online debates or controversies the brand is related to. The last thing you want is to support a brand that does not support your beliefs.
2. Be Aware Of Greenwashing
Greenwashing is when a company appears to be environmentally friendly on the outside but does not comply with all sustainable goals. For instance, imagine the following hypothetical scenario. A company’s website highlights various sustainable goals. They also promote sustainable development goals on their social media and have several blog posts dedicated to ethical production.
However, after looking into their website you notice that they do not disclose their methods of production or implementation of fair trade policies. This is a big red flag. This is also a sign that the company might only pretend to be an ally of sustainable development when in reality they do not follow ethical means of production. Sustainability to these companies is just another marketing tactic. Be wary of these things.
3. Buy Second-Hand Jewelry
You may think that the only way to support sustainable jewelry is by buying from brands that support sustainable development goals. Though that may be the best way to support sustainable jewelry, it is not the only way of doing so. You can also support sustainable jewelry by buying second-hand jewelry.
Brands that produce sustainable jewelry can be expensive. Despite our best intentions, not everyone is able to afford sustainable jewelry. Thus an alternative to buying from brands that create sustainable jewelry is to buy second-hand jewelry. Since this jewelry is not new, it doesn’t need new resources. In this way, you can support sustainable jewelry.
4. Make Your Jewelry At Home
Many may not be aware but making jewelry at home is another way of supporting sustainable jewelry. Using things you have laying around at home, you can design a fun project for yourself. Various online tutorials show you how to make sustainable jewelry. Besides, the fun part of making jewelry at home is that you can make it any way you like.
Jewelry like bracelets or necklaces are particularly easy to make. However, with the right materials, you can also make studs, rings, or earrings. Since you are using products you have at home, homemade jewelry does not negatively impact the outside world. Making jewelry at home helps save resources. Furthermore, it is also a fun activity you can do with friends and family.
5. Spread The Word
If you already practice sustainable consumption, that’s great. However, it’s always better to take it a step further by spreading the word. As already mentioned, sustainable jewelry is not yet a mainstream conversation. Many people do not know what it means or that it even exists. To truly support sustainable jewelry, the best way of doing so is by spreading the word.
If you are active on social media, use your platform to speak about issues in the sustainable jewelry industry. You can also show your friends your collection of sustainable jewelry to get them interested. By spreading the word, you can play a huge part in helping the sustainable jewelry industry grow and promote ethical production.
How To Make Sustainable Jewelry?
As discussed above, making jewelry at home is a great way of practicing sustainable consumption. If you are a teacher or a mother, making sustainable jewelry at home is also a good way to teach children about sustainable development goals. Here is how you can make sustainable jewelry at home.
A. Find Sustainable Materials
To make sustainable jewelry you first need to gather sustainable materials. Since you are at home, try to use products you have laying around rather than buying a jewelry kit. Depending on how creative you are, you can use just about anything to make sustainable jewelry. Try to look for things that are recyclable such as bottles, cans, etc.
You can also use your old jewelry to make new jewelry. If you have any thrift or flee stores in your area, you can also look for materials there. Thrift stores have old jewelry and other ornaments at low prices. You can buy some materials from there and use them to make jewelry at home.
B. Find An Inspiration
After you have gathered all your material, you need to think of what you want to make. Usually, Pinterest would be the first step. However, since you are using sustainable materials, you must gather materials before you can begin putting things together. Lay everything you gathered in front of you. Then think of the type of jewelry that would look good using these materials.
If you are unsure of what to make you can look on Google or Pinterest for inspiration. Aside from this, you can also look through your jewelry collection. What do you like to wear? What type of jewelry catches your eye? Considering these things can help you decide what to make. Try picturing the final product in your head. If you like what you see, begin assembling.
C. Look At A Tutorial
If you are unsure of how to proceed, look at a tutorial for guidance. You may not find many sustainable jewelry tutorials online. However, there are countless tutorials on making regular jewelry. Though you may not have the same products as the tutorial, you can take ideas regarding the basics of making jewelry.
Looking at a tutorial will also help you avoid mistakes. Even if you do not follow a tutorial word for word, it could still have a lot of useful information. For instance, if you are making an elastic bracelet, you need to pull the elastic before using it. Little tips and tricks such as this can make a huge difference in how well your jewelry turns out.
D. Get Creative
Once you know the basics from a tutorial, get creative. Jewelry is about subjective taste. Do not let conventional ideas of how jewelry should look cloud your judgment. Use your imagination to its full extent. Do not be afraid of trying experimental things. Making jewelry is about having fun. As long as you like what you have created, nothing else should matter.
Being creative also comes in handy when following a tutorial doesn’t work out. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you end up missing a step or doing something wrong. Instead of panicking in such moments, try to be creative. Workaround whatever mistake you made. Better yet, highlight your mistake as the central point of what you’re making. Don’t take things too seriously and have fun with them.
Latest Trends In Sustainable Jewelry
Sustainable jewelry may seem like a public service or charity case. However, with time, sustainable jewelry has become an important part of fashion. People no longer feel obligated to wear sustainable jewelry. Rather, they seek out sustainable jewelry themselves. Here are a few of the latest sustainable jewelry trends.
- Beaded Jewelry
Beaded or handmade jewelry has been all the rage in the fashion world for the past couple of years. Handmade and beaded jewelry has always been a popular fashion item. Whether it be the colorful beaded chokers of the 80s and 90s or the long pearl necklaces of the 1920s. Beaded jewelry never has and never will go out of fashion.
Handmade jewelry in particular has taken the recent fashion trends by storm. Handmade jewelry isn’t just sustainable, but they are also very unique. Because these ornaments are handcrafted, they are all different from each other. In a time where everything is mass-produced, beaded or handmade jewelry is an opportunity to celebrate individuality.
- Lab-Made Diamonds
Many couples and celebrities have recently shown interest in lab-made diamonds. These diamonds are just as beautiful and shiny as regular diamonds. The only difference is that they were made in a lab rather than extracted from a mine. These diamonds are relatively expensive. However, prices will come down after they are produced more frequently.
Lab-made diamonds have already gained traction as engagement rings and other staple pieces. Previously, many had been opposed to man-made jewels, since they couldn’t match in quality to real jewels. However, lab diamonds are not only equal in quality to real diamonds, they are also sustainable.
- Wooden Jewelry
Another trend in sustainable jewelry is wooden jewelry. Wooden jewelry has been around for a long time. However, they have recently gained traction due to the popularity of sustainable jewelry. Wooden jewelry is a fashion staple in many different cultures. Wood is usually used to make bangles or bracelets. However, recently wood has also been used to create other jewelry.
Recently, wood has found a place in men’s fashion, being used to make rings. Aside from this, wooden jewelry is also a staple of the boho-chic aesthetic. If you wear a lot of earthy tones or enjoy an ethereal look, you may enjoy wearing wooden jewelry.
- Repurposed Jewelry
Repurposed jewelry is jewelry that has been broken and put together to make something new. This is a good way of combining modern and traditional looks. Repurposing jewelry is a core part of sustainable jewelry making. Taking old jewelry and making it new is a great way to recycle old things and use them again.
This works very well with old family heirlooms. Do you have any old jewelry that has been passed down to you by a family member? There may be some jewelry that has sentimental value but isn’t very stylish. Repurposing the jewelry is a good way to keep its sentimental value while altering it to fit current trends.
We hope this article helped you learn more about sustainable and ethical jewelry. If you were confused regarding what is sustainable jewelry? We hope you found your answer. Now that you know what sustainable jewelry is, you should have no trouble finding a brand you like.
To get started on your journey as a sustainable jewelry advocate, head over to our website and get a quote on the excellent ethically produced jewelry on the market.