Ethical jewellery is made from materials that have been produced on sites that protect the health and safety of workers and the environment and produced by people that are paid a fair wage. Ethical jewellery is made by jewellers who try wherever possible to improve the environmental and social sustainability of their practice.
Jewellers who are committed to responsible business practices will be happy to answer your questions about how they source their materials and make their work. Jewellers who consider issues in their supply chains, put in great efforts to have responsible businesses and practices. They will want to share this story with you, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If a jeweller is certified by an accreditation scheme or they are a member of an organisation that you are nor familiar with, ask them what it means. If it is unclear from a jeweller’s website what their ethical policies are or what kinds of materials they use, contact them to ask. Asking about material origins and sourcing methods is critical for growing the responsible jewellery industry and the ethical making movement.
Use your buying power consciously.
Banner and Page Image Credit: Ute Decker
Why Buy Ethical?
When people refer to ethical jewellery, just like with ethical fashion or any type of consumer good, it can refer to a variety of things. It is ultimately up to you to decide what you value most in the quality of the products you buy. You have the buying power to increase the market for responsibly sourced jewellery and to help change the way jewellery is made.
Ethically made jewellery is crucially about the origins of the materials used to make the product and the conditions under which these were produced and traded. This is where the majority of the environmental and social injustices occur in the production of jewellery. Additionally, ethically made jewellery has to do with the methods and processes in the production of the finished piece.
If you are passionate about improving the lives of workers who have been exploited and the well being of the environment, consider ethically made jewellery.
Options for buyers
For jewellery made with responsibly sourced metals from mines where miners are treated and paid fairly and there are systems in place to safeguard health and the environment, you can choose to buy Fairtrade or Fairmined jewellery.
You can also choose jewellery made from recycled metals. There is also the option of buying jewellery that is not made with precious metals but rather with alternative materials. When purchasing jewellery with stones, look for jewellers that can talk to you about where and how their stones are mined and processed. If you’re not sure about where you favourite jewellery brand sources their materials, ask them.
Every maker will have their own perspective of what ethical making means. Vet jewellers against your own standards and choose jewellery that supports what is important to you. Knowing where your jewellery comes from and in what conditions it was made, is the first step towards a more responsible jewellery industry. The more consumers are asking questions about brand ethics, material origins and conditions of production, the more makers there will be offering ethically made jewellery.
We are currently developing a maker directory of jewellers and silversmiths that take an ethical approach in their practice. If you are a maker and would like to be listed in our future maker directory, please get in touch about what is considered.