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9 best ethical and sustainable jewellery brands

Opt for accessories that match your values and shop from brands that care about traceability

Lizzie Rivera
Friday 09 October 2020 17:00 BST
We chose brands that are battling old methods, working with trusted suppliers and operating to a much higher standard
We chose brands that are battling old methods, working with trusted suppliers and operating to a much higher standard (Emma Aitchinson)

Jewellery is a gift to be treasured, often bought as a token of love, so, it’s important that when we do make that investment – however big or small in monetary terms – it is a piece of integrity.

It’s been about 14 years since Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blood Diamond shone the spotlight on the brutality behind the diamond industry, shattering any illusions about how so-called “precious” metals and stones are mined.

A lot has changed since that film. But not nearly enough.

Mining companies destroying sacred indigenous sites in western Australia hit the headlines this summer, and reports of gold linked to militias in Sudan were also recently released.

As one jeweller told us: “If you’re not asking where your jewellery originates from, there’s a high chance you’re funding weapons for terrorists in war-torn countries.

"Your money could be going to companies who force people to work in mines at gunpoint or knifepoint and abuse children, making them work 10-hour days.”

Most of the jewellery companies you know are highly likely to be marketing beautiful items with no mention of the true origin of where their gold and gems come from.

Arguably even worse, some are hiding behind certifications that are nowhere near robust enough.  It’s a widely-held belief that The Kimberley Process (which claims to reduce the flow of conflict diamonds) is barely worth the paper it is written on. The Responsible Jewellery Council is better than nothing, but not good enough. 

To be candid, it’s highly unlikely even the best jewellers will have 100 per cent traceability of their supply chains. It’s just not possible – yet.

As such, genuinely ethical and sustainable jewellery is exceptionally hard to come by, but here is a guide that will help you buy in line with your values.

That said, there are some brilliant jewellers out there who are battling to change the system, working with trusted suppliers and operating to much higher standards.

The list below not only features them, but is dedicated to the extraordinary efforts they make.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The verdict: Sustainable and ethical jewellery brands

For its beautiful designs, commitment to artisans in Kenya and fair pricing that proves ethics don’t have to cost the earth, Yala Jewellery is our top pick. If you’re looking for an engagement ring or bespoke design, Ingle & Rhode and Harriet Kelsall will be able to point you in the right direction.

Discover even more sustainable brands in our round-up of the best ethical fashion brands

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