What is sustainable and ethical jewelry?

Conscious consumerism is certainly gaining momentum in recent years, and the jewelry industry is no exception. With rising awareness of socially responsible business practices and ethical production, there’s a call for transparency and accountability from the creators of our beautiful jewelry.

Historically, unfair labor practices and exploitation have been commonplace within the diamond sector, so it’s a massively positive step for rural communities that the impact of the jewelry industry is in the spotlight. Plus, mining is taking a devastating environmental toll on our planet, so pushing for more sustainable practices is an obvious win. But what exactly is sustainable and ethical jewelry? Let’s take a look.


Ethical production

The allure of glistening jewelry often obscures the harsh realities behind the finished piece. From the unethical sourcing of raw materials, where child, forced and unfair labor practices go unchecked, to factories where hundreds of people experience the same conditions processing and refining the metals and gemstones, there’s a dark side to the jewelry industry.

Choosing to only purchase pieces produced with fair labor practices, ensuring workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions, makes a huge difference. A small decision to avoid jewelry that can’t be traced back to the source of its production helps to drive positive change in the industry and advocate for human rights on the other side of the world.


Traditional jewelry production relies on the mining of precious metals and stones, which have an enormous environmental impact. The physical size of the land that becomes disturbed, plus the use of harsh chemicals, can devastate and poison the surrounding ecosystems of the mine. This can render a huge area uninhabitable for both native wildlife and the human villages or communities which rely on the delicate ecosystems to survive.

Our choices when we go to buy a piece of jewelry have a ripple effect that cascades all the way back to the origin of the materials used to create it. It’s vital to carefully assess how the piece you’re considering was produced, and whether or not you can trace its sustainable attributes. Some sustainable jewelry is made from recycled materials, upcycled vintage pieces, or new materials that have been responsibly sourced to ensure they are from mines that work to protect and preserve the environment.

Either way, sustainable jewelry minimizes the demand for new mining, and uses eco-friendly production methods that reduce the carbon footprint of the product – such as renewable energy sources and lab-grown diamonds.

Social responsibility

Beyond ethical and environmental concerns, jewelry production also has a wider social impact that mustn’t be ignored. Whilst these areas all overlap, social responsibility is about giving back to the communities that are affected by mining and the industry as a whole.

From supporting initiatives that reduce illegal mining operations and empower the less fortunate communities who produce their raw materials, to replenishing the environment by using eco-friendly manufacturing processes, jewelers can work to lessen the negative impact of their work. Socially responsible jewelry will also often be created with traditional craftsmanship, use eco-friendly packaging, and may invest in ethical and sustainable policies for each step of their production.

Support the change

As consumers, we hold the power to drive massive change through our decisions that can hugely affect the lives of others. By shopping for your jewelry more consciously, and opting for ethically sourced, socially responsible, sustainable pieces, you can help make the world a better place. Look for certifications such as Fairtrade to help verify any claims made around ethics and sustainability, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the sourcing and production process. Afterall, transparency and accountability are paramount in creating a kinder, more sustainable future for everyone.

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