With an increasingly revealing spotlight shining on the fashion industry, more and more people are becoming enlightened about ethical forms of consumption. However, one area that remains largely in the dark is ethical jewellery. Similarly to clothing, jewellery is deemed to be ethical if its core materials are sustainably sourced and if workers have been respected in the production process. Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but they are certainly not the environment’s.
But do not fret, we have compiled a list of five ethical jewellery brands so you can bling yourself up guilt-free!
ARTICLE22 is a Laos based company working with 12 artisan, rural families who create jewellery entirely from bomb remains. Transforming bombs into bracelets, each piece is carefully crafted using metal and shrapnel left behind from the Vietnam War. Not only is this sustainable in terms of sourcing new materials, it channels the physical and social remnants of war into a force for good. In addition, ARTICLE22 pay their workers 5 times the local wage and a proportion of proceeds go to clearing undetonated landmines in Laos.
This completely non-profit jewellers reinvests its money into supporting the women who make their products and the Ugandan villages in which they live. 100% of revenue is funnelled into advancing the causes of workers and their communities. The organisation’s main priorities are: economic empowerment, restoration of hope through social services, and the transformation of women into agents of change. Services provided include counselling, healthcare, and training so that women can further flourish in and lead new community initiatives.
Another non-profit organisation, PURPOSE employs young women escaping the horrors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. All proceeds go to International Sanctuary, who provide workers with holistic care ranging from counselling to educational workshops. Women across Uganda, Mexico and India benefit from what is both a workplace and sanctuary, helping them integrate into mainstream employment. Each piece of jewellery is crafted and signed by the hands of a living example of hope.
- Ten Thousand Villages
Having worked across 30 developing countries over the last 70 years, Ten Thousand Villages pioneered Fairtrade jewellery. Hoping to to break the cycle of poverty, their workforce is made up of marginalised groups such as people with disabilities and women. Working conditions are not only safe and respectable, but are powered by energy-efficient, renewable electricity so as to minimise the company’s environmental footprint. All accessories are formed using locally sourced, recycled and renewable materials.
Whilst some large businesses take advantage of their power by exploiting workers and furthering their profits, Pandora assumes a positive position of responsibility on the world jewellery stage. As a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) Pandora not only abides by rules, but disseminates them through the Pandora Ethics Programme. This programme seeks to better inform smaller businesses on what constitutes safe working conditions and environmentally friendly production. Moreover, Pandora has an internal anti-corruption programme and compulsory e-learning module for all employees on the company’s ethical aspirations.
Much thought has gone into the practises of these companies and consumers should follow suit by being mindful of their choices and the impact they have. Ignorance may be bliss, but to indulge in the jewellery industry whilst improving the life of someone on the other side of the world is surely even better.
Main article images courtesy of @article_22, @akolajewelry, @purposejewelry, @tenthousandvillages, and @theofficialpandora on Instagram.