Ethics & Sustainability in Jewellery

Are you someone who cares about sustainability, conservation of the planet and believes in ethical shopping? Have you then always wondered about ethical & sustainable stores where you can shop for jewellery? If you’ve seen our article on shoes, you know that we are interested in the role of sustainability and ethics in creative and style businesses. So in this article we are looking at 3 stores that have caught our eye online that do interesting jewellery and meet the criteria of being ethical & sustainable stores.

FairTradesymbolWith the recent government introduction of the 5p per plastic bag when you shop in England, the aspect of recycling and sustainability is quite topical. When it comes to food, there’s the FairTrade Standards  that’s the world’s largest fair trade system and aspects such as certification and audits ensures that there’s compliance to these standards.So when you go to a retail store and see the Fair Trade sign, you can be assured that the sellers have been treated fairly.

Is the Jewellery Industry lagging behind ?

Is the jewellery industry is lagging behind in doing something when consumers are showing greater concern for aspects of principles and ethics when making purchases ? For instance, the term “conflict or blood” diamonds is narrowly limited to diamonds that finance rebel movements against recognized governments.

However, it’s only an advice to jewellers to not trade in blood diamonds rather than a globally recognised standard. The industry has a term “Dirty Gold” to refer to gold that does not take into consideration the impact of the production of gold on the environment or the larger society. But as an end consumer, we doubt you’ve come across this term. And then there’s the Responsible Jewellery Council that has been around for a decade but has found itself facing a lot of flak in the last year for weak standards.

From our own experience of running a jewellery business, we know that traceability of the jewellery supply chain to figure these issues can be tough.

So how then can we tell if jewellery we buy meets some norms when it comes to ethical & sustainability practices ? To be honest, you can’t other than the commitment by the seller of the jewellery because at this point there is no traceability or standards which lets you know that this is being met. We therefore have to take the words of the sellers at face value.

3 Ethical & Sustainable Stores we like

But making that as an assumption, we did a scan of stores that sell jewellery  that mentions ethics and sustainability as values that they practice. From the look around, we’ve selected three stores to show case here which hold these values but also have interesting looking jewellery.

1. JustTrade.co.uk

JustTrade Laurita Earrings

JustTrade Laurita Earrings

Perhaps if you’ve been browsing at a museum shop, or one of the galleries, you’ve already seen jewellery made brought to you by JustTrade?

JustTrade provides support to women artisans in Peru, Ecuador and Lima by enabling them with design skills and then marketing and selling their goods.

When you go onto the website of justtrade.co.uk, you see that the origins of this place come from providing support for a fairtrade project in Lima, Peru. Starting here, Justtrade today has projects in Ecuador and India other than Peru. We love the simplicity and elegance of these Laurita earrings, which is made by the Zoe Project team in Lima, Peru.

The other piece of jewellery that caught our eye here is the beautiful brass bangle that’s made by the same project.

JustTrade Brass Bangle

JustTrade Brass Bangle

2. The Natural Store

Natural Store Recycled Silver Earrings

Natural Store Recycled Silver Earrings

Another store that caught our eye is the natural store which is much like a large department store catering to the needs of women, men and kids with a wide variety of products from food to fashion. In their own words,

 “…every item has been specially selected because it is ethical in some form, be it – Fair Trade, Local, Natural, Organic, Recycled, Reclaimed, Vegan, Vegetarian or Vintage”.

The Natural Store has recycled silver and brass used in their jewellery. This is silver and brass that’s bought from charity firms around the UK and then cast into unusual shapes.

Natural Store Recycled Brass Ring

Natural Store Recycled Brass Ring

The Natural Store has an impressive list of certifications including FairTrade and Organic, both for food and textiles. So we think this is one store you should check out if you want all things ethical & sustainable.

3. PeopleTree

PeopleTree is the go to store for Fairtrade Fashion. They’ve been around for over twenty years and been recognised and acknowledged by places like the Ethical Consumer. They also have FairTrade credentials as well as those for Global Organic Textiles and organic dyes.  They have an interesting collection of jewellery that includes the Mosaic Ring made with brass.

PeopleTree Mosaic Ring

PeopleTree Mosaic Ring

It makes a lot of sense that you know that the makers of your jewellery have been fairly treated and given a chance to support their families. Like us, you probably will feel good about making a difference to sustaining the planet as well. So why not consider looking at these stores as an alternate to some of the mainstream jewellery shops you look in all the time?