Ethical Jewellery: Adorn Yourself with Sustainable Sparkle

Bracelet from Wild Fawn Jewellery

Ethical fashion has, quite justifiably, become a buzzword in the industry – but as the concept of “fashion” certainly extends to include accessories, we should have a conversation about ethically produced jewellery. 

Obviously, if you care about animals, you will avoid any type of jewellery that includes animal bones or teeth (yes, you read that right: there is jewellery that features actual teeth), but we’d advise you to consider a few other matters before reaching for your wallet at a jewellery shop.

Many people are aware of the ethical issues behind diamonds: those mined in conflict areas are associated with human rights abuses, worker exploitation and civil wars. Profits from diamonds help fund wars and conflicts in poverty-stricken areas, leaving many people displaced from their homes. Workers in the mines are subjected to extreme conditions and dangerous practices – occurrences that we are far from being aware of in our comfortable reality, picking out our engagement rings at fancy jewellers’ shops.

Necklace from Oria Jewellery, bracelet from Wild Fawn Jewellery, earrings from Sacet

Why minerals matter

But what about other, stone-free kind of jewellery? Are minerals, such as silver and gold, completely conflict-free? Unfortunately, the truth is not that simple: gold mining has been connected to armed conflict for years, as mining has been used to fund wars in conflict states, specifically African countries. The World Gold Council has implemented a Conflict-Free Gold Standard to promote responsible mining, put in place to help consumers be sure that the gold they are purchasing does not fund wars in already impoverished areas. But the environmental aspects of mining are not to be ignored, either: gold and silver mining have been connected to chemical poisoning of the soil and waterways, along with child labour and human rights violations. Metals such as gold and silver often come from open-pit mines, where soil is extracted and processed using mercury and cyanide, producing runoff that pollutes waters. Silver is often recycled, which adds to its eco points – but in no way detracts from the environmental damage which occurs during mining.

Necklace from Oria Jewellery

A case of buying less and choosing well

As is the case with most fashion products that have the potential to harm the planet, Vivienne Westwood’s mantra “buy less, choose well” comes in handy here. Since jewellery truly has the potential to last forever, there is no need to replace it frequently – or at all. Choose versatile pieces that will last, that you will not tire of and that go with most things in your wardrobe. And do your research on the brands that you choose to support.

Earrings from Sacet 

Sacet: “We are committed to responsible sourcing”

UK-based brand Sacet offers a sleek range of versatile minimalist jewellery that is easy to effortlessly match with any wardrobe. Their pieces are very reasonably priced, mainly due to avoiding steep margins – and sourcing directly from independent miners. All the silver pieces in their range are 100% recycled. “By using recycled silver in our creations, our aim is to avoid large silver mines where working conditions and environmental policies aren’t often up to the standards we’d like them to be,” says the brand, whose packaging is also 100% recycled and FSC-certified.

Necklace from Oria Jewellery

Oria Jewellery: “We take the greatest care in sourcing ethically produced materials”

Offering several ranges, including wedding and engagement jewellery, Oria uses Fair Trade gold only, ensuring workers’ rights are at the core of their values. The brand also sources their metals from small alluvial cooperative mines in Argentina, which are free from the aforementioned cyanide and mercury. The label’s Fair Trade silver comes from artisanal miners in Bolivia, who are also cyanide- and mercury-free. Just like Sacet, their silver is 100% recycled. 

Bracelet from Wild Fawn Jewellery

Wild Fawn Jewellery: “We are committed to our mission of following and promoting eco-friendly practices”

Every piece sold by London brand Wild Fawn is created by hand in the studio of founder Emma Barnes. A registered  Fair Trade gold user, Emma only uses Fair Trade gold and recycled silver for her collections. The utterly wearable, contemporary collections offered by Emma are all created in accordance with fair payment to miners, and Fair Trade gold production invests in local projects such as healthcare and schools, and empowers miners to create their own financial independence.

 

As with any fashion item, overconsumption is the enemy of sustainability when it comes to jewellery, too. Thankfully, brands like Oria, Wild Fawn and Sacet create affordable, ethically produced items that will stand the test of time.

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For more ethical fashion, follow Vilda on Instagram

 

All photos by David Camilli

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Sascha Camilli

Founder and Editor

A passionate changemaker, Sascha Camilli is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vilda Magazine. Born in Moscow and raised in Stockholm, she has also lived in Los Angeles, London, Milan and Florence, before landing in her current hometown of Brighton, UK. She was chosen as one of Vegan Good Life Magazine's Vegan Business Influencers of 2015 and nominated for Best Vegan Entrepreneur by Unicorn Goods Best of Vegan Awards 2017. She is also a Huffington Post blogger, THRIVE Career Mentor at Reading University and speaker at events such as VegFest and VegoVision Sweden. She loves to travel, do yoga on her sea-view balcony, and drink too much coffee.

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Vilda (Swedish for “the wild one”) is an international digital vegan fashion magazine. Our aim is to inspire elevated compassionate living. For info and media kit: sascha@vildamagazine.com

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