Best Sustainable & Ethical Jewelry Brands in the UK
Jewelery has not always had the reputation of being the most sustainable sector.
At the high end are the ethical concerns over the source of the included diamonds, while at the low end the disposable nature of the pieces that turn your fingers, neck, ears or wrists green leaves the majority destined for landfills. But not anymore.
Just as we’re leaning toward more earth-friendly and human-friendly practices in terms of denim, subscription services, vintage products, and even footwear, so too is our bling.
It is perhaps unsurprising to learn that sales of these sparkling products have skyrocketed during the lockdown. Instead of splurging on the holidays, people have turned to their jewelry boxes to spark joy. The amount of commitments has undoubtedly played a part too, as not only have relationships been accelerated, but we’ve been forced to focus on what really matters. I can attest that I spent more time than I should have searching and buying even more gold necklaces to layer with my pajama du jour. But there has certainly been a change.
Buy less, buy better is not a new idea but a way of shopping that has been embraced with aplomb by many looking to transform every aspect of their lives to be kinder to the planet and counter the associated throwaway culture. to fast fashion jewelry.
However, being sustainable goes beyond the simple choice of materials. While recycled and hard-wearing products designed to stand the test of time are important, there is the whole supply chain to consider; from the sourcing and manufacturing process to the treatment of everyone involved in the trade – something especially worth investigating in the jewelry industry.
If you’ve seen Leonardo DiCaprio in blood diamond, you are aware of the sometimes controversial use of money from the sale of diamonds, which has led to options specifically labeled “conflict-free”. Going further, ethical diamonds refer to those that are mined with safe working conditions, fair pay, no abuse of human rights and environmentally friendly practices. Lab-grown diamonds are another genre to consider, where the stones are man-made to be chemically identical to traditional diamonds with the same characteristics but are much more affordable and no mining is required.
Another takeaway from the lockdown is the amount and visibility of smaller independent labels, which over the years have become discoverable on social media. This means you no longer have to rely on big, established brands to find something sentimental or a worthy gift.
Check out stylish sustainable jewelry brands below.
Since its inception, Brilliant Earth has been on a mission to bring more transparency to the jewelry trade. The brand insists that quality and conscientiousness need not be mutually exclusive – and so each diamond goes through a rigorous protocol before being set in one of its sparkling pieces. Trademarked Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds, natural diamonds, recycled gold and recycled diamonds have verifiable ethical and environmentally responsible origins, and the use of recycled precious metals reduces mining.
The San Francisco-born label welcomes these special occasion pieces to mark defining moments in your life; engagement rings can be purchased by style, metal, diamond shape or you can create your own, while wedding and anniversary collections include platinum, yellow, white and rose gold rings for men and women.
In addition to classic diamonds, there are gemstones that can be chosen to match birthstones or color preferences and, in addition to rings, there are earrings, necklaces, bracelets or charms that you can layer on an existing chain.
Taylor and Hart
Taylor & Hart brings a personal touch to your jewelry selection. When it comes to popping the question, the brand encourages you to work with them to create a bespoke ring that best represents your fiancé-to-be — without the high prices typically associated with creating your own custom jewelry. The service is free and you don’t need to commit to further purchase until you are fully satisfied.
Along with this there is a range of styles with solitaire, pavé, halo or trilogy designs using platinum, rose, yellow or white gold. There are a variety of different stone shapes ranging from hexagon to cushion and inspired by vintage, Art Deco or contemporary designs.
Taylor & Hart chooses ethically sourced materials and demonstrates transparency throughout the process – from sourcing to manufacturing – by working directly with suppliers. The diamonds comply with the United Nations Kimberley Process which legitimizes that they are conflict free.
Monica Vinader has published several sustainability reports to give more responsibility to her practices. The carbon-neutral brand already uses 100% recycled gold vermeil and 100% recycled sterling silver to reduce carbon emissions, and has received the Butterfly brand as certification from Positive Luxury. This rarely achieved accreditation was awarded due to the label’s responsible sourcing, supply chain transparency and philanthropy. Diamonds are ethical (and Kimberley Process approved). You’ll also get a five-year warranty, lifetime repair service so you can keep it in pristine condition for longer, and the packaging is fully recyclable – no single-use plastic here.
The brand became famous with its sophisticated version of friendship bracelets where engravable bars were attached to a colored string. Over the years it has evolved but still creates timeless and universally appealing styles that were made to be gifted. The extensive collections include rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, pieces designed for men and now even housewares.
If you haven’t heard of Toronto-born jewelry brand Mejuri, you’ll no doubt have seen her designs as the brand is a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Oprah, Bella Hadid, Emily Blunt and Billie Eilish to name a few.
Mejuri has redefined “fine jewelry” with luxurious pieces that can be worn every day. Its delicate designs transcend trends and seasons to remain eternally chic.
The selection includes 14k gold rings, micropaved diamonds and initial embellishments. Stack your finger with the delicate, stackable designs and wrap yourself in as many necklaces as you like.
The brand opts for thoughtful materials without sacrificing quality. The diamonds are ethically sourced and the gold is certified recycled. All manufacturers are audited by the Responsible Jewelery Council.
Giving back, the label launched the Mejuri Empowerment Fund which supports higher education for underrepresented women and non-binary people.
Worn by Meghan Markle, Emma Watson and Jenna Coleman, BAR jewelry is instantly recognizable for its initial designs which take an abstract approach to the letters of the alphabet created with molten wax that is then cast in recycled solid silver. Whether you wear your own name or layer your family members, the pieces are striking and sentimental at the same time.
With each new launch, the brand pays particular attention to its environmental impact. Some jewelry is made locally in the brand’s studio in east London or in a family business in the west of England. The intricately hand-formed designs are made in factories in Bali or Thailand that give back to the local community with an emphasis on ethical standards. Fair wages, training and safe working conditions are guaranteed and workers are recruited locally.
BAR Jewelery favors recycled materials over all newly mined materials, and specifically recycled 925 sterling silver sourced from Europe from a member of the Responsible Jewelery Council. In the construction process, they opt for natural or biodegradable alternatives when it comes to chemicals and the packaging is made from FSC-certified cardboard.
Lark & Bay
With its statement, sparkling fine jewelry designs, you wouldn’t know that Lark & Berry has only used lab-grown diamonds since its inception. But more than that, these unmined diamonds are grown using completely renewable energy.
The brand has partnered with Climeworks – a leader in Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology – to remove 65kg of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for every £5,000 spent on diamonds.
From its piercing range to engagement rings, Lark & Berry offers timeless, sculptural and nature-inspired pieces. The pomp is set with silver, gold and platinum.
Born out of lockdown by a mother-daughter duo, ByGlaze has been a sold-out success since its launch where the first collection flew away in just 10 minutes. The influencer favorite label has been worn by Jessica Skye, Tally Rye, Megan Williams and Cat Meffan who are undoubtedly fans of the brand’s timeless, minimalist aesthetic. Everyday creations include square hugs, coral pendants, chunky chains and thin necklaces.
All pieces are produced sustainably and ethically, with the brand opting for recycled sterling silver and responsibly sourced 18k gold plating.
With love darling
Storytelling and sustainability are With Love Darling’s raison d’être. The brand appeals to artisans around the world, especially in disadvantaged areas, to encourage workers to learn skills and earn a living responsibly without undermining their human rights. Charms, for example, are made in Jordan by Syrian refugees.
Designs are crafted from 18k gold vermeil (18k yellow gold micron plating over sterling silver) or sterling silver where the latter is nickel free and rhodium plated.
These are pieces that will form the basis of your jewelry layering with hoop earrings, hugs, and serious necklace stacking potential.