While the focus on ethical clothing grows, what about ethical jewellery? For me, a perfect piece of jewellery is made from sustainable materials, and tells an ethical story alongside the sentimental one that’s personal to me. No matter the value of the piece, I want it to be made with love, care, and joy.
To give you all the tools to source the best ethical jewellery, I’ve put together this ethical shopping guide on jewellery, covering gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and gemstones.
I’ve partnered with ethical fine jewellers Ingle & Rhode, based in London, to bring you this guide, and share their leading practices in creating ethical jewellery.
What Makes Jewellery Ethical?
Just like ethical fashion, ethical jewellery covers a lot of different aspects. Here’s a guide to best practice across the journey all of our jewellery takes:
1. Ethical Sourcing
The first thing to look at when buying jewellery is where the raw materials were sourced from. Gold and diamonds are mined around the world, but the mining conditions – and the miners’ pay – varies from place to place.
Ingle & Rhode chooses to use Fairtrade gold and conflict-free diamonds sourced from Canada, where they are mined under strict regulations imposed by the local government. Both of these materials guarantee fair, adult labour from independent organisations, which is really going the extra mile.
There’s also the social and environmental effects to consider: mining can involve the use of harsh chemicals, and a single wedding ring produces around 20 tons of waste before it reaches your finger. Due to the value of the materials, gold and diamonds can also create conflict, violence, and corruption.
By working with the Fairtrade Foundation and Canadian governors, this is completely avoided, and funds a better way of sourcing jewellery.
Ingle & Rhode also use fairmined silver and recycled platinum to keep to their high ethical standards.
2. Traceability And Transparency
In order to make sure jewellery comes from a good place, we also need transparency and traceability.
Many jewellers rely on a system called the Kimberley Process, which was created to prevent the purchasing of conflict diamonds. Unfortunately, this system isn’t 100% guaranteed, so while it’s a good start, it’s not perfect.
Ingle & Rhode prefer to use ethical, fully traceable diamonds, and you follow these back to their mine of origin. They have also found ethical sources for coloured gemstones – often working with small-scale mining cooperatives where the wealth generated by mining is directly retained by the local communities.
3. Fair And Professional Jewellery Makers
So, we’ve covered sourcing and the transparency around it. What about the people who make our jewellery?
Just like garment workers, jewellers are more likely to experience fair pay and good working conditions in highly developed countries. Ingle & Rhode choose to work with craftsmen and women in the UK to make their rings, ensuring expert craftsmanship as well as ethical employment.
4. True Aftercare
Finally, how is the customer treated? I think this is a step that is often overlooked, even in ethical fashion. Customers should be informed when making a purchase, but also treated well.
Ingle & Rhode provide personalised expertise and advice when you shop with them, so you can ask all the right questions before purchasing one of their fine engagement rings, or wedding or eternity rings. I think this is especially important when buying such a meaningful piece of jewellery – I would want my love story to be tied to a ring made with love and care!
They also provide their own I&R Warranty, meaning their pieces are of exceptional quality and you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with yours.
My Ethical Jewellery Collection
While I’m not yet engaged (nor married), I do have my own carefully curated collection of ethical jewellery!
Earrings are my favourite piece, as they’re so easy to wear and can create quite a dramatic effect. As I said in my last jewellery post, I’ve been dipping my toe in the world of gold jewellery again, so my collection now spans an array of colours and styles.
My most meaningful piece: When I was 18, my parents gifted me a handmade chain necklace made from gold. On the chain hangs a gold key, a symbol of freedom, curiosity, and an echo of my mum’s own key necklace that she was given on her 18th.
My most worn piece: As I said before, I love earrings the most, and my most worn pair is my silver circle drop earrings from Wild Fawn Jewellery. These are handmade using recycled silver, and they fit nicely with my helix earring too.
My current favourite piece: These have to be my gold apple pip earrings from Little by Little Jewellery. The design and story behind them is just adorable!
Best Ethical Jewellery Brands in the UK
So, you should now know what to look for when buying ethical jewellery. To go one step further, here’s a list of my favourite brands spanning different styles and prices:
Anuka Jewellery*: Recycled silver and fair-mined gold handmade jewellery.
Artisans and Adventurers: Ethical shop stocking a range of jewellery styles.
CLED*: Recycled glass and silver earrings, necklaces and bracelets designed in L.A.
CVM.LLE*: Sustainably-made jewellery inspired by antiques.
Eden Diodati: Sustainable luxury jewellery line, founded by Jennifer Ewah.
illi: Fine jewellery using lab-grown diamonds and gemstones with 100% recycled metals.
Ingle & Rhode: Ethical and traceable engagement rings, wedding rings, and eternity rings.
Just Trade: Handmade jewellery and accessories on a budget.
Kay Reed: Animal-inspired jewellery promoting conservation.
Kind Jewellery*: Sustainable jewellery that comes in sustainable packaging too!
Laconic: Ethical minimalist statement jewellery handmade in the UK.
Lark & Berry*: Jewellery made with lab-grown diamonds, guaranteed conflict-free.
Lima Lima*: Bold silver jewellery made using recycled and reclaimed materials.
Little by Little: Recycled and sustainably-made jewellery inspired by nature. Get 10% off with code BESMA10
Loft & Daughter*: India meets contemporary design across this recycled range.
M. Salhberg*: Recycled silver jewellery adorned with real pearls.
MAMATER: Female-founded, black-owned jewellery brand with sumptuous style.
Mikaela Lyons*: Gold and silver jewellery inspired by beauty and strength, handmade in her studio in Birmingham.
Monarc Jewellery: Opulent gold and silver rings, necklaces, and earrings, handmade in the UK and New Zealand.
Monica Vinader: Chic designs made with 100% recycled gold and silver. Get 20% off with code MVINSIDER20-62F0
Readorn London: Sustainable jewellery with an upcycling service.
Sacet: Consciously crafted high-end jewellers who show their makers.
So Just Shop: London-based jewellery shop for everyday wear.
Wild Fawn*: Minimalist jewellery created from recycled silver.
Yala Jewellery: Kenyan-made ethical jewellery empowering local communities. Winner of Best Sustainable Jewellery Brand at the Sustainable Lifestyle Awards 2019!
This post is sponsored by Ingle & Rhode. All views and opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links (denoted '*')