Blood diamonds, slave and child labour in mines, human rights abuses, toxic pollution, environmental harm. These are just a few of the serious issues that plague the jewellery industry's gold and gemstone supply chain. Just like fashion, jewellery production too has a wider ethical, environmental and social dimension to it.
Mining of diamonds, precious stones and precious metals has long been linked to human rights abuses, militia abuses and genocide (Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2006 film Blood Diamonds sheds light on the issue of conflict diamonds). As a result, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was set up in 2003 by the United Nations to prevent conflict or ‘blood’ diamonds’ from entering the market.
Ethical and responsible jewellery brands today feature certified conflict-free or even lab-grown stones, recycled materials like gold and silver, and materials that can be traced back to the source. They ensure fair wages and working hours and avoid working with suppliers whose practices pollute or negatively impact the environment in any way, such as metals mined through destructive and toxic methods. Many ethical jewellery brands also integrate social initiatives into their production, supporting humanitarian or environmental causes, and supporting local communities where the jewellery is made.
These 8 independent jewellery designers are working towards a more ethical and sustainable practice, while creating beautiful, timeless and durable pieces of jewellery.
London-based designer, Pippa Small, has been making jewellery for the past 20 years, working with industry standards such as Fairmined gold and Fairtrade, and traceable gem sources. Her candy-coloured jewels are designed in London and crafted in Rajasthan, India, by a team of highly skilled goldsmiths and stonecutters. She also works with charities and NGO’s like Turquoise Mountain, Fairmined Organizations who work directly with communities in many parts of the world to collaborate on collections for her beautiful handmade pieces that protect heritage and promote artisan’s skills.
Inspired by nature, committed to sustainability and ethical industry practice, and handmade in her California studio by a community of skilled artisans, Melissa Joy Manning’s beautiful jewellery pieces are destined to become heirlooms. Diamonds and gemstones are responsibly sourced or reclaimed (from domestic sources where possible), metals are recycled, packaging is post-consumer or recycled, and the company has a green certified studio practice emphasizing a zero-waste policy. The company also gives back to their community and has partnered with numerous NGOs and charities, from food banks, shelters, the Clean Water Fund and the ACLU, donating a percentage of their profits to social justice and environmental causes.
London-based designer Rosh Mahtani read French and Italian at Oxford University before establishing Alighieri, which was inspired by her studies of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Pieces are hand-made through the process of lost wax casting in recycled bronze, plated in gold or made of silver ethically sourced from Italy. Layer her molten metal pieces for a fresh and contemporary look.
Pamela Love began making jewellery in her Brooklyn apartment in 2007 and since then her pieces have made their way onto the fingers and necks of rock royalty and celebrities, and have won her numerous accolades. Her collections are heavily influenced by astronomy, astrology, alchemy, early American and Mexican silver traditions, and architecture, and take inspiration American folklore and symbolism. All metals used to make Pamela Love jewellery are recycled, and precious stones are up-cycled or ethically sourced and conflict-free, in compliance with United Nations Resolutions.
Hailing from a long line of artists and creatives, and with a background in fine art and science, it's no surprise that as a jeweller Tarra Rosenbaum should draw inspiration from nature and art to create her handcrafted pieces. She employs gold, sterling silver or gold vermeil with precious and semi-precious gems from honest sources, and when possible, recycled materials from around the world, and fair wages are paid for workmanship. A socially conscious company, they also plant trees with Trees For the Future.
LA-based designer Leigh Miller launched her collection in 2014 after working with Calvin Klein and J Crew. Her sculptural nature-inspired wax cast pieces— which look like wearable works of art— are designed and crafted in Los Angeles using recycled silver, gold and brass, and conflict free and traceable stones that are domestically sourced where possible.
Named for the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 22’s Peacebomb collection is handcrafted by traditional Laotian artisans from repurposed Vietnam War-era shrapnel–military grade aluminium from bombs, plane parts, military hardware and other aluminium scrap. Each piece sold helps MAG (Mines Advisory Group) clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs littering the Laotian landscape, and gives back to support traditional Laotian artisan livelihoods, village development, community endeavours and further de-mining efforts. Every diamond supplied to ARTICLE 22 is certified conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees, from reputable merchants in NYC, and purchased within the supply chain in compliance with UN resolutions and the 2003 Kimberly Process Act. Each piece.
Ethical consciousness and sustainability are at the heart of Berlin designer, Lilian von Trapp's eponymous jewellery brand. Each piece of jewellery is handmade from recycled materials by master goldsmiths in Germany, so fair working conditions are a prerequisite. LVT also donates 1% of all sales to the Earthbeat Foundation. You’ll find wedding and engagement rings, bespokeminimalist pieces and her signature chunky chains for men and women, worn by celebrities such as Emma Watson and Lily James.