What is Sustainable Jewelry?
Sustainable jewelry requires limiting waste. This means using recycled materials and scrap, avoiding having extra stock, up-cycling and ensuring that as much else as possible can be bio-degraded. Simultaneously, the impact on the external environment, biodiversity in the oceans and ecosystems surrounding mines needs to be minimized.
Ethical jewelry stores are not only preferred by most customers. They’re also inherently better for the world.
So in this post, we try to answer the following. What are some of the sustainable brands out there? What are some of the best practices for sustainability? Also, what are a few tips for jewelry lovers to support sustainability in the jewelry market?
Let’s start with looking at some sustainable jewelry companies.
Sustainable Jewelry Brands
Here are some jewelry sellers that practice sustainable models in different ways.
Gjenmi – From LA, this company prioritizes ethics by only sourcing its jewelry from conflict-free areas and by using recycled gold. Also, Gjenmi’s pieces are stylish and handmade.
31 Bits – Based in Indonesia and Uganda, this company focuses on paying fair wages and on supporting its artisans in various ways outside the workplace. 31 Bits has a younger, arguably millennial consumer following.
Santa Prisca Silver – This is us! Founded in Taxco, Mexico, Santa Prisca Silver is a wholesale supplier that focuses on maximizing sustainability by using recycled materials. We support local artisans by helping them sell their Taxco Silver in bulk. We’re one of the best ethical jewelry brands, if you ask us! 😉
Ten Thousand Villages – This organization is a fair trade member and serves artisans by being a platform that allows them to sell their wares online. Ten Thousand Villages helps create opportunities for artisans and designers that don’t have the experience to build their own online presence, including disadvantaged areas.
Namu – This company uses recycled, fairly mined minerals and has eco-certified jewelry boxes. Also, its gemstones are raw. If you’re interested, check out Namu’s website for more information about its products.
Best Practices in Ethics and Environmental Sustainability
We explore what sustainability really means for a jewelry wholesaler. This breaks down into a number of basic elements, as follows.
Workers’ Rights – All too often, mines and workshops underpay their workers. In areas that are economically dire, this perpetuates poverty. Miners are sometimes also exposed to dangerous conditions, which should be avoided at all costs. Then, when they fall ill or are injured, they are often laid off. Labor disputes result in tension, sometimes even violent incidents. Strikes are less common when workers benefit from ethical conditions and fair pay.
Provide additional educational resources helps break the cycle of poverty. Rather than turning communities into factories, companies should try to preserve traditional jewelry making practices. The joy of the art is often lost when it has to be created in an assembly line.
Responsible Mining – Setting off explosives on mountain tops is unsafe for workers and is bad for gold mining and the environment. Strip mining spreads debris in the air that often pollutes rivers and water sources. The run-off is unsafe for the local population, and it often leads to toxic waste.
Responsible mining almost always starts with sound government regulations that standardize safety practices and protect environmental assets. When companies are allowed to go in and mine themselves with little or no oversight, the situation usually ends in mining ecological impacts.
Forest Preservation – Mines operating in older, precious forests are particularly harmful. Generally, these are worse in cases where companies operate illegally without a permit. If there is a way to mine responsibly in a forest, it involves doing so with minimal impact, rather than clearing this land.
Material Recycling – Jewelry manufacturers should have processes in place to re-use as much scrap as possible. This means collecting and using extra metals in the workshop for new pieces. Some retail shops deal in antique jewelry, thus cutting down on the overall demand for new materials. Advanced technology can even be used to create new carbon diamonds. This completely sideteps virtually all the potential ethical problems in the diamond market. Some low-waste workshops also feature sustainable earrings.
Mining and Manufacturing Accreditations – The industry has a number of independent organizations that rate ethics and sustainability standards. The Kimberley Process is a popular certification to avoid trade in conflict diamonds. Fairmined standards are labels of approval for mining organizations, related to social development and environmental protection.
How to Support Ethical Fairness and Environmental Sustainability as a Jewelry Consumer
As a consumer of jewelry, there are several things you can do besides finding a sustainable jewelry manufacturer. Here are some quick tips.
Check the Vintage Shops – Any time you buy vintage jewelry, you avoid helping create demand for new supply. Plenty of styles are consistent with retro jewelry these days (and recycled jewelry brands).
Ask Relatives – Harrass your grandma, aunt or sister to go through an old jewelry box. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So there might be something you love that they will never wear.
Explore the Attic – See what jewelry options are sitting in your attic. Catching them now might prevent them from being thrown in a landfill somewhere one day.
So, if you are interested, feel free to take a look at our wholesale silver shop. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! All our silver jewelry is handmade in our workshop in Taxco. Sustainable jewelry making is a top priority for us.