✨ Buy now + pay Later with Affirm ✨

Eco-Friendly Jewelry: How Handmade Pieces Embrace Sustainability and Ethical Practices

Eco-Friendly Jewelry: How Handmade Pieces Embrace Sustainability and Ethical Practices

Jewelry helps us present some of our individuality. Handmade artisan jewelry delivers that individuality with unique pieces for each person, giving them a look all their own. Because these pieces aren’t mass produced, there might be a concern about how there are produced and where the items that make up a piece are sourced from. However, artisans who create handmade jewelry are more likely to source those materials responsibly because of their emphasis on using sustainable materials. 

There are also ethical concerns, particularly with where gemstones and other pieces come from. There are parts of the jewelry industry that are certainly troubling, but being able to track where your jewelry comes from can help alleviate some of the concerns surrounding the origin of your piece. Responsible artisan jewelers should be able to tell you where everything is sourced from, so that there is no question as to how they align with your morals and standards. 

What’s the Difference Between Sustainable & Ethical Jewelry?

Sustainable and ethical might be interchanged in conversation, but they mean clearly different things. Sustainable jewelry deals with the impact the manufacturing process of the jewelry has on the environment. Handmade jewelry is typically much more sustainable than similar mass-produced items because it’s made on a much smaller scale and produces minimal waste. Artisan jewelry also typically uses more recycled metals and other eco-friendly components. 

Instead of the materials, ethical jewelry focuses on the individuals that are producing the items. This traces all the way through the supply chain and the manufacturing process. For example, some areas use children when mining gold or diamonds, or pollute the waterways and soil around the mines with toxic chemicals from the mining process. Understanding where your precious metals and gemstones come from is at the core of creating ethical jewelry.

What are the Environmental Impacts of Jewelry Production?

Mining produces a lot of issues with the environment, and not just from digging mines to acquire the precious metals and gemstones that go into these pieces. The process of extracting these can use harmful chemicals that impacts the soil and water – impacting agriculture and aquatic life. This can wreak havoc on ecosystems, accelerating erosion that can eliminate animals and plants. Grasslands can be cleared to create enormous mining pits. All of the heavy machinery needs fuel to operate, pumping large amounts of pollutants into the air, and they can pollute local water sources during the grinding of rocks. 

Because artisan jewelers work on a smaller scale, making sustainable options much more attainable. They typically produce items on a made-to-order basis, or create the pieces in considerably smaller batches than those that are mass produced. Many handmade jewelers opt for using non-toxic chemicals to process metals, and creatively incorporate a number of reused items into their designs. This smaller production and innovative use of materials helps artisan jewelers remain sustainable for a long period of time.  

How Do I Know if a Jeweler Uses Sustainable Practices?

It’s not difficult to find out if a jeweler values sustainability. You simply have to ask them. Most jewelers will tell you all of their practices toward sustainability, and will often even list some of them on their website. They should also be able to give you the specifics on where their materials are sourced from. Some jewelers will also have initiatives that guide their overall business practices to reduce harmful impacts on the environment. From using recycled packaging to implementing other eco-friendly practices, this shows an overall commitment to sustainability in their business. 

There are also specific certifications and memberships that denote businesses that are committed to sustainable and ethical practices. Fairtrade is a certification that ensures good working conditions, proper wages, and sustainable activities around the production of jewelry. Fairmined certifies that gold comes from businesses that fulfill the requirements of responsible practices, as well. The Responsible Jewelry Council leads the industry to ensure the rights of workers. The Ethical Metalsmiths are a community of jewelers aligned and committed to building a more responsible jewelry industry. These are just a few of the groups and certifications, but be sure to ask your jeweler if they have these or any others to know their stance on sustainability in the industry. 

How to Know if a Jeweler Uses Ethical Materials

Different pieces of jewelry can be made with a vast array of materials. Every precious metal is different, and even various gemstones face their issues in the efforts to mine them. Not all of these components in jewelry can be sourced legally, so it’s important to know the different items and where they came from. The enormous variety of gemstones and where they’re found makes it very difficult to regulate, but gemstones from ethical sources are not difficult to find. Look for jewelers that get their materials from the United States or other affluent countries because they’re more likely to be ethically-sourced. 

As mentioned before, the Fairmined certification is the standard for ethically-sourced gold and silver jewelry. This organization is responsible for vetting and certifying individual mining operations to ensure that the metal is coming from an ethical source. Also look for jewelers that use recycled silver or gold. These recycled precious metals can emerge from a number of different sources – including everything from old jewelry to television sets and even smartphones. It’s important to the jeweler that they’re creating these pieces ethically, so they should be up front about all of the steps they take to provide items that followed their ethical standards from mining to design and creation of a piece.

Socio-Economic Benefits

Along with the environmental benefits, there are also some other things that extend beyond the peace of mind of purchasing sustainable and ethical jewelry. By purchasing these ethically-sourced sustainable pieces from an artisan jeweler, you’re helping boost the local economy – allowing the business to be sustained for a longer period of time. Because of their commitment to creating ethical pieces, these jewelers are also champions for fair labor conditions – which can be in stark contrast to the facilities of mass production that may exploit workers. 

Artisan jewelers often use traditional techniques that have been passed down through time, and it can help preserve cultural heritage that may have otherwise been lost to history. The creators of these pieces promote individuality and cultural identity, delivering an alternative to mass-produced goods. This fosters a culture of creativity around their items, and creating them ethically and responsibly adds even more importance to the piece. Choosing artisan jewelry can have a positive impact on their community, as well as the environment.

High Quality & Durability

The standards are set higher for artisan jewelry, as it is typically crafted with the utmost attention to detail and quality. The same standards that push the jeweler to set a high bar on ethics and sustainability also go into every piece they create. Their unique designs will often transcend fashion trends, which makes the artisanal pieces appreciated for a long period of time. Holding themselves to a higher ethical and sustainable standard isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also lends itself to better overall quality. 

Mass-produced jewelry typically prioritizes quantity over quality, and that can lead to pieces being made with lower-quality materials. The artisans will tailor each piece to the individual, which results in a higher level of craftsmanship and quality control. Better quality generally means higher durability – because of the much higher attention to detail. These customized designs also hold more personal value, meaning they’ll likely last a much longer period of time. Longevity is an important aspect of artisanal jewelry, and many of these pieces will be cherished for long periods of time. 

Trend of Eco-Friendly Jewelry

Handmade eco-friendly jewelry has become a significant movement toward more sustainable and ethical consumer practices. By focusing on using environmentally-friendly, sustainable materials and gaining transparency into ethical labor practices, it has made the popularity of handmade jewelry increase around the world. Having an alternative to the unknown processes that come along with mass-produced jewelry is refreshing turn that creates even more unique items. 

Now more than ever, consumers want to know where the materials are coming from and how they are being sourced. There is more information on the dangerous practices in the industry, and people are interested in getting their jewelry the right way. Eco-friendly jewelers provide this transparency, and the entire industry is better for it. It helps protect the environment, supports fair labor, and gives consumers the option to get high-quality jewelry that they can feel good about wearing.

Artisan jewelers work hard to set their standards high for their clientele, and they should be more than willing to tell you how all of their items are created and sourced. Not only can the consumers get beautiful and meaningful jewelry, but are also having a positive impact on the world that created the precious metals and gemstones in the first place. For more information on sustainability and ethical practices with artisan jewelry, reach out to the experts at Kate Maller today.

Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published