Buying new jewellery is a lovely treat but historically the industry has a poor record when it comes to ethics. From dangerous production methods to environmental damage, there can be a host of consequences fuelled by consumer demand for cheap jewellery. However, the good news is that with a little thought you can choose pieces without these negative repercussions. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your jewellery purchases are ethical.
What to avoid
Recent media coverage has thankfully resulted in so-called “blood” or “conflict” diamonds now accounting for just 1% of the world`s trade but there are still improvements to be made in terms of adequate remuneration and working conditions for miners. “Dirty gold” results from mining processes that use mercury and cyanide, which are incredibly harmful both for the environment and the labourers involved. The use of organic materials like ivory, coral and marine life, such as preserved seahorses is utterly deplorable. Jewellery featuring any of these elements should be avoided at all costs.
Gold has become the first jewellery component to receive Fairtrade certification, so always ensure you choose jewellery that has been made in accordance with this. Not only will the producers receive a fair price for their gold but the mining process is carefully controlled to minimise the environmental impact. Ask your jeweller about the provenance of the stones they use to check the ethicality of the supply chain.
There has been a boom in sustainable jewellery crafted from unusual materials such as recycled glass or reclaimed wood. Not only do these look stunning but they make use of materials that would otherwise go to waste. Another popular trend is upcycling, where old jewellery is taken apart so the stones can be reused in fresh setting, creating new pieces. Look for jewellery that is manmade, without using chemicals or heating processes and support companies that have fair working conditions and environmental policies in place.
There is a growing interest in ensuring that the jewellery industry improves its standards of ethics, not only by improving production but also by offering a wider choice of environmentally-friendly options. So from beads to stones and necklaces to earrings, it`s easier than ever to choose ethical, responsible jewellery that both looks and feels great.