While the fast fashion industry is finding itself at the forefront of criticism over unsustainable practices, the jewellery industry is now finding itself under increasing scrutiny. Consumers are showing more awareness of energy-hungry mining practices, along with the often appalling treatment of workers in mines.
While both the fast-fashion and gemstone industry have work to do in order to reduce their involvement in the climate crisis, it is fair to say there are brands doing their best to ensure their jewellery is made from sustainable materials without using forced labour.
Speaking of sustainability, while there is direct action within parts of the industry, it can be hard for consumers to separate sincerity from virtue signalling – or termed another way: greenwashing. It can be hard to differentiate those led by true values from those riding on green marketing hype.
Viable.Earth has researched some of the jewellers in Australia who are paying genuine attention to people and planet in the sourcing of materials and their manufacturing process.
These brands are taking strides toward greener practices in jewellery making, such as using conflict-free gems, recycling metals, upcycling unsold pieces, and offering free lifetime repairs.
The impacts of jewellery mining
Mining gems and metals have harmful effects on the environment and the people who work in mines.
The environmental impact of mining includes land, air, and water pollution, chemical leaks, habitat loss, and permanent damage to natural landscapes.
In addition, aside from environmental damage, mining also has negative impacts on society, including child labour, violence, gender inequality, health consequences, and sometimes in driving people from their land.
Sustainable jewellery brands in Australia
Sydney-based Lizunova is a homegrown brand that uses sustainable practices and responsibly manufactured metals. It uses conflict-free diamonds and gemstones from ethical suppliers, and most of its engagement rings use Sapphires, which are more ethical than diamonds.
Launched in 2010, founder Holly Ryan was inspired to launch the brand as an opposition to the wider fashion industry whose overproduction and waste remain a massive contributor to climate change.
All pieces are locally made on the Sunshine Coast using recycled metals and responsibly sourced gemstones. In addition, the brand offer repairs and restoration for customers to ensure the pieces last a lifetime.
Fine jewellery brand Sarah and Sebastian crafts all its pieces made-to-order to minimise manufacturing waste. The pair practice sustainability by being transparent with its materials, creation process, and supply chain, through to using recycled materials in their packaging.
The brand also offers repairs in its workshop to extend the lifespan of customers’ jewellery.
Sofia Maria is a jewellery design studio, named after its founder, with a focus on craftsmanship and recycled metals.
One of Maria’s greatest influences is the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, a Buddhist concept that centres around finding beauty in imperfection.
In addition, she chooses to work only with locally sourced recycled metals and responsibly sourced natural gemstones.
Founded in 2010 by husband and wife Lars and Susie Larsen, the jewellery label was built on the premise of offering high-quality ethically made jewellery.
The company claims to be 100 per cent carbon neutral and all its pieces use fair trade gold, and conflict-free gemstones. The company donates 10 per cent of its profit to charity.
In addition, all customers receive a lifetime guarantee on purchases.
Momoko Hatano, the Japanese-born, Sydney-based designer of fine jewellery, says she always puts sustainability at the forefront of her projects when creating them. She makes sure the pieces are made from recyclable and reusable materials and are of a quality that ensures they can be worn for many years.
Each item from Haano’s label is locally made and me from at least 75 per cent recycled metals.
This Sydney-based fine jewellery designer is an advocate for slow, ethical pieces.
Launched in 2016, its founder creates bespoke, handmade accessories from recycled metals and responsibly sourced gemstones.
Born from a “passion for the craft”, Natalie Marie’s label focuses on sustainability, superior craftsmanship, and high-quality materials.
The brand says it makes a conscious decision to minimise the carbon footprint of each piece made. In addition, it uses at least 70 per cent recycled and responsibly source gold, and it says it is continuing to push this ratio higher.
Did we miss your favourite brand? Let us know in the comments below.
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