Sustainable Jewelry and How to Find It

Ah, I love jewels. The way they can elevate any look, change your style in just a move.

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. Boom.

Yes, this is a thing.

Did you know that the 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? Once upon a time, gold was the stuff of empires and the backbone of economy and currency (un)stability – thanks, Bretton Woods! – but now we want to wear it around our necks and on our fingers. Cute.

Just as in the case of sustainable fashion, sustainable jewelry has a nice variety for your enjoyment. All prices, all styles, anything you need.

Read more about sustainable fashion:

So let me take you on a stroll through the different types of sustainable jewelry you can purchase and wear without feeling the slightest remorse.

How to find sustainable jewelry

Clean gold mining

As opposed to dirty gold mining, which should be a no-no.

This gold guarantees:

  • Cyanide-free and mercury-free mining – these are chemicals often used in gold mining to separate the gold from the rock.
  • Mindful about the waste and its disposal – because actually gold minig creates so much waste. Did you know that making ONE engagement ring creates over 20 tons of waste?
  • Responsible with governments, mining companies, communities and workers, and consumers

When you come face to face with clean gold, you will see a certification that will ensure you 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.

Lab-made diamonds

We officially live in the future.

I mean, if you bring back your high school chem knowledge, it makes sense that we are able to make diamonds. But still, impressive.

I digress.

Lab diamonds look identical to earth diamonds, but they are 20% to 40% cheaper – because they are not limited, like earth diamonds.

They are real diamonds created using the same conditions in the lab as the conditions the earth diamond would be exposed to in – well – the earth.

If there’s something bad to say about this option is that, if it generalizes, it will likely ruin mining communities that depend on us buying diamonds from them.

Oh, they are being criticized for not being real diamonds. Which – repeat after me – is not true, they are indeed real. But I guess we have romanticized the whole idea of blood diamonds? Idk.

But seriously, who would say no to an engagement ring with a nice cushion lab diamond encrusted on it?

Vintage jewelssustainable jewelry

If lab diamonds sound like something you might not be into, why not investing in some reeeal nice diamonds that have already mined and used before?

As with vintage clothes, there are all the options you may dream of. It’s just a matter to find the perfect store for your style and your needs.

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 vintage 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, 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 😉

Repurposed materials

If you’re not a fan either of the idea of wearing a whole piece that has been worn before, repurposed jewels are 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 wasn’t jewelry before, and turning it into sustainable jewelry – like in the photo you can see below, that used to be a Dior Keychain!

I found this brand called Sik Gal on Instagram and I’m OBSESSED – they also have clothes, not only jewelry. They have jewelry pieces made with reworked buttons, bag charms, patterned fabric,… Love it.


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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.

Recycled materials

Remember that thing about one engagement ring creating tons of waste? Now, imagine if there was a way to skip this process.

Something as simple as recycled metals can skip all the shady things related to the 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 jewelry?

One of my personal favorite brands is Article22. They use recycled guns and artillery to make their jewelry as a celebration of positive transformation. *Goosebumps*.

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