Courtesy of Monica Vinader
Jewelry is not just a beautiful accessory; it serves as an emotional keepsake and future heirloom. Add another layer of meaning when you buy it from an enduring jewelry brand. Consciously made jewelry, like eco-friendly fashion or green shoes, keeps materials and craftsmanship in mind. Recycled metals, fair trade gold, conflict-free stones, and even repurposed jewelry components are just a few examples of sustainable materials used to maintain a low environmental impact. Along with a commitment to Mother Nature, investing in a skilled workforce is also a boost towards sustainability – people do impact the planet, after all.
So the next time you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry to celebrate your best friend, the perfect gift for grandma, or a little pick-me-up for yourself, consider buying a thoughtful piece from a company that stands up for the environment. And trust us: the varied designs will appeal to minimalists looking for chic gold earrings and those with a boho flair who want to layer up elements with global influences. From affordable finds to freshen up your daily rotation to luxury gems that will be treasured forever, here are some top sustainable and ethical jewelry brands to check out and add to your (or a loved one’s) jewelry box.
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Soko makes beautiful, sculptural pieces that will appeal to a range of aesthetics. The vast assortment includes recycled brass, scrap wood and reclaimed horn which is a by-product of the food industry. Although the designs and materials are enough to marvel at, the brand was founded on the principle of promoting Kenyan artisans and connecting them to a global sales platform, shaking up the traditional factory model and offering manufacturers economic independence.
Nothing says summer like colorful jewelry. New York-based SVNR (pronounced “souvenir”)’s whimsical designs focus on found objects, upcycled and natural materials, and repurposed vintage finds, making each handmade piece unique. Don’t miss the unique earrings or beaded shell necklaces that would make a nice anchor to your beach layers.
For minimalists who prefer modern design, Mejuri is a must-visit destination. The wares range from textured hoops and domed rings to coin pendants and strands of beads. Crafted with sustainable precious metals, gold (a majority recycled; the remainder mined responsibly) and conflict-free diamonds, this is fine jewelry meant to be bought by yourself – why wait for someone one offers you? – and enjoyed every day.
Fans of delicate jewelry will likely be familiar with Catbird, the longtime Brooklyn-based boutique with a devout following. Though they carry independent designers, ultra-thin chains, barely there rings, and reasonably priced diamond-accented pieces are house specialties. The best part though? Everything is made in Brooklyn (to minimize their carbon footprint) with ethically sourced gold and conflict-free or recycled diamonds.
With a name loosely translating to “She Works” in a local Ugandan dialect, it’s no surprise that Akola puts women first. The company was designed to create meaningful jobs for women in Uganda that not only pay a living wage, but also empower them through leadership and financial education programs. As for the globally inspired jewelry, everything uses local and eco-friendly materials such as by-product horn, natural raffia and recycled glass.
Tribute to Africa, from inception to creation, Omi Woods focuses on unique designs such as pendants cast from authentic pieces (featured on Oprah’s 2021 list of favorite things), cowrie shells and sculptural hoops . The entire collection is ethically handcrafted with Fair Trade African gold, recycled gold vermeil, responsibly sourced sterling silver, and conflict-free Canadian diamonds. Symbolic and collectible, these eye-catching pieces are sure to spark conversation.
Slow fashion and social impact are the name of the game at Nashville-based ABLE. Women from disadvantaged backgrounds are employed throughout the supply chain to produce wardrobe essentials like denim, dresses and accessories. Personal jewelry is also favored for good reason: Handcrafted in Nashville, it costs well under $100 and features eco-friendly materials like recycled silver (scrap metal is melted down and reused). And yes, here’s actress Minka Kelly modeling some pieces she helped design.
British jewelery brand Monica Vinader is known for its sophisticated designs ranging from chunky pendants dangling from textured chains to pretty, organically shaped rings and bracelets, all made ethically with recycled metals, conflict-free diamonds and pearls and gemstones from sustainable sources. You can even send any old gold or silver jewelry (of any brand) to be recycled for credit to use for a new piece. In addition to these practices, the company partners with several initiatives, including a biodiversity project to preserve the land in its native Norfolk, UK.
For budget-friendly jewelry that can be worn every day, check out The Little Market’s sweet deals. Come for the classic hoops, dainty chains, and colorful bead bracelets (and be sure to explore the eco-friendly housewares), but stay for the mission — as a nonprofit fair-trade boutique , The Little Market strives to uplift women with economic opportunity. Partnering with artisans from more than 25 countries to showcase traditional techniques, the company pays decent wages and creates safe working environments for underserved groups.
If you’re looking to splurge on a piece of fine jewelry to mark a special milestone, a gift for a loved one, or just because, Monica Rich Kosann should be on your radar. The coveted, customizable lockets are signature, but don’t miss the Diamonds Reborn capsule either: crafted entirely from recycled gold and repurposed diamonds, the sparkling pieces will give your diapers a special touch.
Aurate is all about real gold (spot the periodic table symbol?) at affordable prices. In fact, everything is made from 100% recycled gold, as well as ethically sourced diamonds and pearls. You’ll want stacking rings, hugs, and diamond initials to mix and match with your current repertoire.
When a collection is handcrafted in the magic of Hawaii, you can expect nature to be integral to the ethos and design. Dried plants, ocean motifs and vibrant crystals are framed in recycled metal frames and will instantly transport you to the islands. Pressed flower pendants and crystal necklaces are popular — you can even personalize one with your choice of birthstones (hint: they make a unique gift).
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