Don’t you love jewels? The way they can elevate any look. How they can change your look in the blink of an eye.
No joke, when I wear my big loops I feel like a different person, a total badass. And when I wear my colorful beaded maxi earrings I feel a bit more like Carmen Miranda playing Chiquita Banana.
But you know what is better than jewelry? Sustainable jewelry.
Did you know that jewelry demand represents the production of 80% of all gold mines?
Remember those things you learned in history class about the Mayans and their gold, or the establishment and fall of the gold standard? Back then, gold was the stuff of empires and the backbone of economy and currency (un)stability, but now we want to wear it around our necks and on our fingers. Cute.
Just as in the case of sustainable fashion, you can find sustainable jewelry in many shapes and forms – any price, any style you want.
Read more about sustainable fashion:
- Sustainable Fashion 101
- The 6 Forms of Sustainable Fashion
- How To Know If A Brand Is Actually Sustainable
What Is Sustainable Jewelry and How to Find It
Clean gold mining
As opposed to dirty gold mining, which should be a no-no.
Clean gold guarantees:
- Cyanide-free and mercury-free mining. These are toxic chemicals often used in gold mining to separate the gold from the rock.
- Mindfulness about waste and its disposal. This is crucial because gold mining creates a lot of waste. Did you know that making ONE engagement ring creates over 20 tons of waste?
- Responsibility from governments and mining companies towards mining communities, workers, and consumers
When you come face to face with clean gold, you will see a certification that ensures that you’re buying what you stand for. Some certifications are
- CleanGold™: supports both environmental and ethical standards
- Fairmined Ecological Gold: artisanal and small-scale miners that comply with social and economic standards, and don’t use toxic chemicals in their extraction process
- Fairtrade Foundation’s Fairtrade Certified Gold: also for artisanal and small-scale mines that extract their materials and trade through a traceable supply chain. It also ensures that miners receive are paid fairly.
- Green Circle Certified Gold: responsible and environmentally friendly gold.
- Recycled Gold: for repurposed gold into new products.
Sustainable jewelry meets the future.
I mean, if you bring back your high school chem knowledge, it makes sense that we are able to make artificial diamonds. But still, impressive.
Lab diamonds look identical to earth diamonds, but they are 20% to 40% cheaper – because they are unlimited, unlike earth diamonds.
They are real diamonds created using the same conditions in the lab as the conditions an earth diamond would be exposed to in – well – the earth.
Some people out there are against lab-made diamonds and claim that they’re not real diamonds. Which – repeat after me – is not true, they are really real. But I guess we have romanticized the whole idea of blood diamonds? Idk.
If there’s a downside to lab-grown diamonds, it has nothing to do with the quality of the diamond itself. The only problem is that if lab diamonds become more common, small mining communities that depend on us buying their diamonds will be ruined.
But seriously, who would say no to an engagement ring encrusted with a nice cushion lab diamond?
If lab diamonds sound like something you might not like, why not investing in some reeeal nice diamonds that have already mined and used before?
As with vintage clothes, with vintage jewelry you have all the options you may dream of. It’s just a matter of finding the perfect vintage store for your style and budget.
If you’ve been following me for a minute, you know I love hand-me-downs. And jewels are no exception!
So please, let’s not forget the cornerstone of sustainable fashion: borrow your friends’ / aunts’ / sisters’ old stuff. No joke, probably 60% of my jewelry box is made up of my mom’s old jewels. From gold chains from her childhood to eccentric big-ass earrings from the 80s.
So, just as in the case of fashion, you’re invited to borrow your family and friends’ jewelry – just make sure you ask for permission in advance 😉
If you’re not either a fan of getting second-hand jewelry, repurposed jewels can be your thang.
Look, this consists in taking jewels apart and making a brand new unique piece out of the different pieces and materials. Or even using stuff that isn’t originally jewelry, and turning it into jewels – like the necklace in the photo, which used to be a Dior keychain.
I found this brand called Sik Gal on Instagram and I’m OBSESSED. They have jewelry pieces made with repurposed buttons, bag charms, patterned fabric,… Love it.
View this post on Instagram
Also, not jewelry related, but I love love love their scrunchies made out of upcycled Gucci fabric.
Pro tip: you can also put your creative pants on and make some reworked jewelry with jewels and jewel-like objects that you don’t use anymore.
Remember that thing about one engagement ring creating tons of waste? Now, imagine if there was a way to make brand new jewels skipping the whole mining and extraction process.
Something as simple as recycled metals can avoid all the shady things related to the mining and extraction of virgin materials.
They look the same as non-recycled ones, so why not investing in them?
If we can recycle plastic bottles into pieces of clothing, why wouldn’t we reuse and recycle the metals that already exist to make new jewels?
One of my personal favorite brands is Article22 because they’re the definition of sustainable jewelry with a purpose. They use recycled guns and artillery to make their jewelry as a celebration of positive transformation. *Goosebumps*.
Imagine if you could wear a different pair of earrings every single day without filing for bankruptcy.
This is something you can do thanks to jewelry rental services. You can subscribe monthly, or just rent your jewels as a one-time thing.
I talk about sutainable clothing and jewelry rental services in this post, so check it to learn more.
This is mostly useful for those jewels that you wouldn’t wear every day: statement pieces, pieces that you will wear for a particular event,… By renting your jewels you’ll avoid the overuse of materials and resources, and all the waste that comes along.
Tell me, which one is your favorite type of sustainable jewlry?