With an increasing awareness of the negative impacts of gemstone mining, recent years have seen a surge in jewellery industry bigwigs rolling out ethical and eco-friendly options. Leading diamond company De Beers, for instance, recently announced its plans to launch a blockchain (a form of record-keeping technology) to track gemstones from the moment they are mined and throughout the supply chain. This will help determine the origins of the stones and ensure they aren’t obtained from conflict zones.
But it’s not just the big names that are becoming more #woke. Independent jewellery labels are also catering to discerning consumers by turning to recycled materials, responsibly sourced gemstones and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes to produce their sparkling baubles. A noteworthy example is BaYou with Love’s unlikely partnership with Dell, which showcases super chic jewellery made from recycled computer parts. A number of brands have even teamed up with craftsmen in disadvantaged communities in the creation of their jewels, providing employment opportunities and channelling part of their profits towards helping the needy.
Here are 5 of our favourite eco-friendly jewellery labels, which demonstrate how style and sustainability can go hand-in-hand.
(Main and featured photos: Raven + Lily)
Run by actress Nikki Reed, BaYou with Love is a fashion brand focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly apparel, homeware and beauty products. It recently expanded its repertoire to include jewellery, with the launch of the Circular Collection — a collaboration that sees the brand making earrings, rings and cufflinks out of gold obtained from Dell’s old computer motherboards. It doesn’t sound the most glamorous of processes, but the end results — which are set in 14k to 18k gold — are surprisingly beautiful: Think gold bead rings that wrap gracefully around the finger, and dainty drop earrings adorned with ethically sourced opals.
Established in Nairobi, Kenya and headquartered in San Francisco, Soko works with artisans in underprivileged communities to produce jewels made from recycled brass and reclaimed cow horn and bone. Its designs are generally minimalist, with clean lines and sleek silhouettes. Popular options include sculptural choker necklaces, slender cuff bracelets, and stud earrings in eye-catching shapes.
Chunky statement jewels are the focal point at Mettle, which specialises in fair trade and handmade products created by disadvantaged craftsmen in Cambodia and Indonesia. The brand prides itself on using materials such as recycled bombshell leather, lucite and eco-leather (a type of synthetic leather). Our favourite piece is this rockstar-worthy, recycled brass necklace, which is plated with gold and shaped to resemble part of a backbone.
Founded in 2008, this US-based fashion and homeware brand supports at-risk and impoverished females around the world by hiring them as designers and craftswomen. Its jewellery is created by women living in countries such as Kenya, India and Ethiopia, and is fashioned in up-cycled materials like brass, pewter and cow horn. Highlights range from dangling paillette earrings to long necklaces mounted with chrysocolla and plum agate stones. Proceeds from every sale go into funding microloans to female entrepreneurs.
Over at British label Lovebullets, brass bullet shells are incorporated with crystals and slick casted sterling silver and gold, transforming gritty symbols of destruction into exquisite works of art. Its signature items include bullet pendants festooned with materials like black agate and smokey quartz, and convertible headpieces crafted in 18-carat gold with bullet beads. Celebrities such as Sophie Ellis Baxtor and Cheryl Tweedy have been spotted in the jeweller’s designs.