Today I wanted to focus on jewelry companies who are doing things right with sustainability. Part of the problem with trying to put together a list like that is the word itself. Because what does sustainability actually mean? Is it using recycled gold? Staying away from conflict diamonds? Using solar power? I am not here to give you a definition of sustainability, but typically there’s both an environmental and humanitarian focus. For example, not using child labor is the human side while recycling efforts speak to the environmental side. In my view, it’s best to talk about sustainability really broadly. But I realize that makes it hard to boil down for the consumer. For the average person who just wants to make good choices with their money and their values, it’s awfully complicated with jewelry.
So I thought I would give all of you some examples of different companies and showcase their efforts to be more sustainable. Then you’ll be able to see the variety for yourself.
Note: Because I am a wannabe-librarian, this list is in alphabetical order.
Alexandra is an award-winning American goldsmith and jewelry designer. She makes beautiful, high-end pieces and is a sculptor as well. Her jewelry follows the organic lines found in nature. She’s been in the industry a while now, and has a reputation for being socially responsible. She uses 100% recycled gold, silver, or platinum in all of her designs, and gets her gemstones from the fair trade company Columbia Gem House.
But most of all, she’s known for her voice. She was an early member of Ethical Metalsmiths and now serves on their Board of Directors as President. She has done a lot, through lectures, presentations, her blog, website, and Facebook, to educate consumers, her own clients, and other designers in the industry about being more sustainable.
Best of all, Alexandra’s jewelry is handmade here in the USA, in her studio in San Diego, CA.
I have been following this great company for an entire decade. They were one of the first companies out there to be totally upfront about their values. When they started in 2005, no one in the jewelry industry was talking about ethical sourcing, and certainly no one thought it was a good idea to have a whole company built on that premise! But look, they are still around and profitable and even expanding, so kudos to them for their vision!
They were not then, and certainly aren’t now, interested in conflict diamonds. They source all their diamonds from countries with no conflict, like, you know, Canada. And they also use recycled gold and platinum in the vast majority of their designs. Brilliant Earth even offers their customers a non-toxic, biodegradable jewelry cleaner.
But one of the best things they do, in my opinion, has to do with packaging. Their jewelry comes in these beautiful wooden boxes, with the wood coming from sustainably managed forests. And just this year, they redesigned their packaging to make it even better, which means they will use 35% less paper packaging than they do now.
My hat is off to this company for being one of the first wedding-focused jewelry businesses to go all in on sustainability.
Dogeared jewelry can be found all over the United States in classy little boutiques. I came across it myself in the Seattle airport terminal, browsing as I always do at my favorite store, Fireworks. They offer simple, modern designs with plenty of affirmation and positivity. Every piece comes with a little inspirational card.
I picked Dogeared because their jewelry is made in the USA, and frankly, it’s rare that I see that. What’s a bigger deal, though, is that they’re a Certified B corporation. The whole premise behind the certification is to make business be a force for good in the world. As of today, over 2,500 companies around the world are certified B corps. Companies are scored on how they treat their customers, how they treat their workers, how they interact with their community, their mission, and what kind of impact they have on the environment. I won’t go into all the details, but it’s pretty comprehensive, and truly, not a lot of companies can legitimately call themselves certified B corporations.
Congrats to Dogeared! I encourage you to check out this California-based company.
Geoffrey is another American jewelry designer. Like Alexandra above, he uses reclaimed gold and silver, and gets his stones from ethical sources. Best of all, his jewelry is easy to find. You can buy online or view his work in stores across the United States.
Ahhhhh, pearls! An admitted weakness of mine, I am especially fond of Tahtian pearls. Because the color on them is sooooooooo beautiful! So of course I was beyond excited to discover Kamoka Pearls, an amazing company that creates the most exquisite Tahitian pearls.
To me, Kamoka goes the extra mile when it comes to sustainability. Their pearl farming operation uses solar and wind power for everything! And their fresh water (since they’re surrounded by the ocean) comes from the sky, because they just catch and use rainwater. They brag about how well their employees are paid and point to their low turnover.
Their founder was a keynote speaker at the first ever Sustainable Pearl Forum in Hong Kong in 2014. Kamoka is a small operation, they were chosen because they’re admired for all their work to truly be an eco friendly pearl farm.
Raven and Lily
I came across Raven and Lily while I was looking for a fair trade home goods company. For those not familiar with fair trade, it’s all about making sure the artists or people who make the product, get paid fairly. So really, the best thing about fair trade is knowing that you’re contributing to someone’s livelihood. Raven and Lily works with over 1,500 women artisans around the world, making sure they have fair wages, which gives them financial stability. Not just for them, but for their entire family.
Another way Raven and Lily covers the human side of sustainability is through micro loans. Every purchase gives a portion back to a micro loan program for women entrepreneurs in East Africa. Cool, right?
Each and every product is handmade by a female artist. On the environmental side, they are committed to using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and their carbon footprint.
Like Dogeared, Raven and Lily is another Certified B Corporation. So they’re the real deal. Give them a try!
I have to give props to Tiffany because they really are a leader in the industry. As a big, prestigious jewelry house with a long history, they have a lot of clout. So when they do things, people pay attention. They have opposed mining in Alaska (the evil Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay) and in the National Forest (the Rock Creek project in Montana). For a company that gets its product from mining, that’s a pretty big deal!
I won’t bore you with all the things Tiffany has done to support sustainability, but if you’re curious, head here to read their most recent Sustainability Report. It’s pretty impressive!
More to come
Sustainability is more than buzzword. People are wanting to purchase from companies that share their values, so it’s not really an option for jewelry stores to be ignorant when consumers ask questions about where their jewelry comes from and how it’s made. I predict we’ll see more and more efforts to be sustainable.
What do think? Do you take sustainability into consideration when you make a jewelry purchase?