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Understanding Sustainable Jewelry

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Welcome to the lowdown on sustainable wedding jewelry. Choosing a ring that not only symbolizes your forever kind of love but also gives a nod to eco-friendliness is a vibe we’re totally into. This guide is your backstage pass to the world of sustainable bling, dishing out deets on recycled metals, conflict-free gems, and all things guilt-free glam. Get ready to say “I do” to conscious choices that not only make your hearts flutter but also leave a lighter footprint on this pretty awesome planet. Let’s dive into the world of sustainable jewelry… 💚💍

What Makes Jewelry Sustainable?

Choosing sustainable jewelry isn’t just about rocking a unique style; it’s a conscious decision with far-reaching positive impacts. By wearing sustainable jewelry, you can proudly showcase your commitment not only to each other but also to a greener and more socially responsible world. It’s a small but significant way to make a lasting impact that goes beyond the love story shared between two people.

But what does sustainability mean, when it comes to jewelry? How do you know if what you are buying is sustainable?

Several factors impact how sustainable a piece of jewelry is. These include:

How the materials are sourced

Traditional jewelry relies on mining metals and gemstones, leading to resource depletion, habitat destruction, and water pollution. Open-pit mining harms ecosystems, and these processes are often energy-intensive and exacerbate climate change.

Gold mining, for example, utilizes 182k tons of cyanide every year, poisoning groundwater with a significant loss of land. Moreover, diamond mining produces 125 pounds of carbon/carat, leading to an unsustainable carbon footprint. 

The Manufacturing Process

Getting the materials out of the ground is one thing. The next stage is turning the raw materials into a beautiful piece of jewelry. To understand how sustainable something is, it’s important to understand where the items were manufactured, the manufacturing process, and by whom.

Does the company have environmentally friendly manufacturing processes? Do they use renewable energy and have procedures to reduce and dispose of toxic waste safely?

The Human Cost

And it’s not just the environmental impact of mining and production that can be problematic. There’s also an overwhelming ethical concern in many areas, including human displacement, child labor, conflict metals, unsafe working conditions, and inequitable wealth distribution.

Giving Back

A final aspect that can be considered when shopping for ethical and sustainable jewelry is whether a company is also giving back, especially to the most affected communities from where its raw materials have originated.

Image by Star Noir Studio

What Are The Most Sustainable jewelry Options?

Your wedding ring is a token of everlasting love from your partner. It will be treasured for years, so it should be kind to our planet. Ethical wedding and engagement rings have minimal environmental impact, come from conflict-free economies, and are made by people benefiting from safe working conditions.

Now that you’re convinced to choose one, let’s explore how you can decode the jargon and understand what jewelry is ethical and sustainable:

Antique Jewelry

Not only is antique and vintage jewelry eco-friendly, but it also have so much charm and history to offer. Searching for antique jewelry could feel like going on a thrilling treasure quest. Choosing a wedding ring that is either a family heirloom or a vintage find helps preserve cultural heritage while cutting down on the need for mass-produced rings.

Upcycling Family Heirlooms

Some couples want to make use of jewelry given to them by their families, but sometimes either the size is wrong or the style isn’t something they want to wear. Many jewelers can create unique and customized pieces by repurposing old materials or jewelry, meaning that you get the best of both worlds – you get something brand new for you, while using something that’s steeped in family heritage.

Fairmined Gold

Fairmined gold and Fairtrade jewelry is the preferred choice for an ethical wedding band or engagement ring. To ensure fair salaries, safe working conditions, and the prohibition of child labor, fairmined gold prioritizes the well-being of miners. Through education and training initiatives, miners are enabled to cultivate sustainable livelihoods. 

Lab-grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds are man-made, created in conditions similar to the natural diamond production inside the Earth’s mantle. Their physical and chemical properties are identical, with a lower cost and flawless look.  

Recent studies show that almost 70% of millennials consider buying lab-grown diamonds because of the ethical concerns of diamond mining. Another more sustainable diamond-like alternative is Moissanite, which is also created in a lab.

Ethical Gemstones

Whether you want diamonds or other gemstones, look for companies that offer ethically sourced gemstones. Ethical gemstones are traceable and free from unethical practices during their mine-to-market journey. 

Recycled Metals

Deforestation, water contamination, and habitat loss are some of the adverse environmental effects of mining for precious metals. The need for new mining operations can be mitigated by opting for recycled metal rings.  Recycled metals such as gold, platinum, or silver are a sustainable choice with the same durability and quality.

Image by Gina Walkowiak

How to Spot (And Avoid) Greenwashing

We have been hearing the word “sustainability”, “eco-friendly” and “green” for years now. But can you ever really know if a company is greenwashing or actually using ethical practices for production? The answer is a simple no.

As the demand for eco-friendly jewelry continues, many brands may resort to greenwashing to capitalize on the growing trend.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to greenwashing:

Tips for Responsible Shopping

  1. Look for credible certifications (discussed below).
  2. Research the brand
  3. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their sourcing and production methods.
  4. Support transparent brands, like small independent indie ones.

Certifications To Look For

There are a few certifications to consider to make the process of finding sustainable and ethical rings, more transparent. These certifications ensure responsible jewelry production and simplify your green bridal jewelry shopping.


The Fairmined certification ensures that small-scale mining companies adhere to responsible methods of gold production. These methods encompass equitable compensation for miners, enhanced ability to track the origin of gold, less reliance on chemicals, and no association with conflict.

An independent third-party organization rigorously assesses gold mines to acquire Fairmined certification. Social, environmental, and organizational compliance are all measured in this evaluation. This accreditation allows sustainably sourced gold from mines that fulfill these standards to be sold to consumers and jewelers.


By adhering to criteria such as investing in worker/farmer organizational development, providing living wages as compensation for work, continuously improving working conditions, and increasing the environmental sustainability of activities, FLO-Cert certifies the materials, production, and trade as Fair Trade. 

These certifications ensure sustainable and fair labor jewelry production.

Kimberly Process

Conflict diamonds, or rough diamonds sold by rebel groups or their allies to finance conflict against legitimate governments, are a significant source of global financial and political instability. 

To combat this, in 2003, an international, multi-stakeholder trade regime called the Kimberley Process (KP) was established to increase transparency and supervision in the diamond supply chain. 

Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC)

The Responsible Jewelry Council is a pioneer in establishing ethical and responsible practices within the jewelry industry. The RJC’s Code of Practices covers various supply chain issues like business ethics, human rights, and social and environmental performance.

The RJC’s Chain of Custody (CoC) standard was launched in March 2012 to cover the supply chain of precious metals. These metals include gold and platinum. The standard supports claims of responsibly sourced jewelry materials throughout the supply chain.

Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)

IRMA is an internationally acclaimed voluntary assurance program that aims to enhance mining operations. Independent third-party teams evaluate the environmental and social performance of mine sites that opt for IRMA assessment.

It has over 400 requirements that involve concerns about human rights, environmental and water quality, workplace and financial stability, and community investment.

B Corporation

B Corp certification is a badge of honor for companies that care about more than just profits. It’s given to businesses that meet high standards for social and environmental responsibility. Think of it as a seal of approval, indicating that a company is committed to doing good for people, the planet, and their customers. When you choose a company with a B Corp certification for your sustainable wedding ring, you’re supporting a brand that’s dedicated to making a positive impact beyond just making money. It’s a way of ensuring your ring comes from a business that shares your values and cares about the world we live in.

Image by Cedric D Vincent

Our Top Ethical Jewelry Brands

Several ethical jewelry brands are promoting sustainable and ethical wedding rings, and some of them are listed below:

These brands are making waves in the jewelry industry by providing conflict-free diamonds and certified ethical jewelry. They all offer exquisite and sustainable jewelry options.

Balancing Budget and Values

Sustainable anything can come with a high price tag. If you want something that’s brand new, made from virgin materials, and sustainable, you’ll need to factor in that paying workers fair wages and using sustainable production methods often increases to cost to produce something, which means it’s going to be more expensive.

But sustainability does’t need to mean more expensive. Jewelry created using recycled materials, lab-grown gemstones, vintage, and upcycled pieces all offer more sustainable alternatives at more budget-friendly prices.

Wrapping Up

As you exchange vows and adorn the symbol of love and commitment, let your jewelry not just be an accessory but a testament to love that’s not materialistic.

Our conscious decisions benefit us, future generations, and the planet. This is the least we can do to give back to Mother Nature and promote a love– that cares for the planet, respects its people, and cherishes the legacy of ethical choices.

Happy Sustainable Shopping!

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