The 8 Best Places to Shop for Sustainable Jewelry

Sparkle in these ethical and eco-friendly pieces.

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Thinking of purchasing a new set of earrings or a new statement bracelet? You might want to consider searching for some artisan-made recycled pieces or vintage finds before making the investment.

Unfortunately, there are some big environmental concerns connected to mining the materials used in fine jewelry. For example, tropical forests have been clear cut to make way for mines, and acid mine drainage can lead to water pollution long after precious metal mines have been closed. If you'd like to make a more ethical choice, look for retailers that use recycled materials or source second-hand finds with timeless designs.

Below, you'll find some of the best places to shop for sustainable jewelry.

The Rundown
With a wide selection of recycled jewelry, ourCommonplace should be at the top of your list when searching for your next piece.
Artful yet affordable pieces handmade from wood, rafia, metals, beads, and gemstones are sold via Ten Thousand Villages.
Best Luxury:
Mejuri at Mejuri.com
Shop for gorgeous diamond hoop earrings, bold statement rings, simple and bold necklaces, and so much more.
For all things gold look no further than Aurate, which uses 100% recycled gold.
All of Common Era's silver pieces are made from 90% recycled silver, and the packaging contains no plastic.
Best Minimalist:
Catbird at Catbirdnyc.com
This Brooklyn-based retailer offers teensy gold chokers, tasteful and stackable rings, and more dainty products.
Best Custom:
Soko at Shopsoko.com
Whether you’re looking for a custom necklace with your initials or a bracelet with your favorite word, Soko is the place to go.
Ruby Lane offers a vintage marketplace where sellers can share their own listings with prices for any budget.

Best Overall: ourCommonplace

Shield Ring With Ruby

With a wide selection of recycled jewelry from multiple brands, ourCommonplace should be at the top of your list when searching for your next piece. The website is designed to allow you to search by brand, type of jewelry, metal, color, price, and even values such as BIPOC-owned, cruelty free, ethical, sustainable, toxic-free, and woman-owned.

All pieces here are sourced with the planet in mind, featuring only upcycled and recycled materials already in circulation or made with the environment in mind. Choose from rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, or anklets, and rest easy knowing that you’re shopping from an eco-conscious company.

Best Budget: Ten Thousand Villages

Gold earrings

Artfully designed pieces handmade from wood, rafia, metals, beads, gemstones and more are sold via Ten Thousand Villages, a maker-to-market company striving to break the cycle of generational poverty and create social change by helping women gain financial independence. With Ten Thousand Villages, all items are handmade from recycled and renewable materials and locally sourced from artisans in ten thousand villages.

The company chooses to work with women, people with disabilities, and others often excluded from the global economy, and works to preserve Indigenous legacies. The company ensures that all purchases impact the life and community where products are made, and promotes recycled pieces for energy efficiency.

Holiday Savings

Best Luxury: Mejuri

Pavé Diamond X Hoop Earrings

Shop for gorgeous pearl and diamond hoop earrings, bold statement rings, minimalist and stackable rings, simple and bold necklaces, and so much more with Mejuri. The company drops new, limited-edition items every Monday, and chooses pieces made from recycled and fairly mined materials that support makers.

Sixty percent of the company’s production partners are world-renowned suppliers that are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, which is the international standard bearer for ensuring supply chain sustainability, labor rights, and industry integrity. The remaining 40% are family-run businesses that Mejuri works closely with on social and environmental practices. Mejuri’s diamonds are all Kimberly Process-certified diamonds, and gemstones are AAA grade, which is considered the rarest and most valuable.

Best Gold: Aurate

Gold Rope Chain Necklace

Looking to add that statement gold ring you can pass down as an heirloom piece? Perhaps you’re looking for a modern chain necklace or a chunky gold cuff bracelet? For all things gold, look no further than Aurate.

All of the gold is 100% recycled, which means it’s never mined and comes from pre-existing gold material that’s refined to remove impurities and imperfections. Aurate’s gemstones and diamonds are also eco-friendly and adhere to the Kimberly Process, and all products are tested to ensure they last a lifetime. Aurate works with seventh-generation (!!!) craftsman from around the world, and oversees all pieces through each step of production to ensure quality.

Best Silver: Common Era

Artemis Goddess of Wild Things Necklace with Diamond | Silver

Inspired by founder Torie’s love of mythology and ancient history, these pieces featuring ancient gods, goddesses, and muses are a unique yet luxurious addition to your fine jewelry collection. Each piece features sustainable materials and artisan craftsmanship, and all are made in a Responsible Jewellery Council-certified atelier.

All silver pieces are made from 90% recycled silver, and the packaging contains no plastic. Any pieces with diamonds go through the Kimberley Process, and gemstones are all conflict-free and natural, not made in labs. What’s even better? Three percent of all profits are donated to the Animal Welfare Institute, and the company is 100% woman-owned and independent.

Best Minimalist: Catbird

Stacked gold rings

Teensy gold chokers, tasteful and stackable rings, and more dainty products are found at Catbird, a jewelry line in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York featuring more than 40 jewelers. Catbird and all of its designers carry ethically sourced and conflict-free gold and diamonds, with diamonds being recycled or reclaimed from vintage pieces.

Yes, tracing the origins of vintage diamonds is often impossible, but using vintage diamonds means much less environmental impact, as there is no mining needed. Catbird is a woman owned-and-operated business, and all jewelers use a mix of recycled metal and ethically-sourced materials to make their own alloys, which helps control the process and minimizes middle men in the supply chain.

Best Custom: Soko

Personalized gold necklace

Whether you’re looking for a custom necklace with your initials, a bracelet with your favorite word or phrase, or a personalized ring or charm bracelet, Soko is the place to go. Soko is a women-led, people-first ethical jewelry brand that connects makers in Kenya with the global market by using mobile technology.

All products using beads are made from hand-painted beads and ceramics from clay dug by hand in Kenya, and gold products are 24K gold-plated brass. The brass itself is 90% recycled, which means old products get a new life in the form of beautiful, custom jewelry.

Best Vintage: Ruby Lane

1860's Victorian Spinel Cabochon 6.00 CTW Diamond Silver-Topped 18 Karat Insect Brooch

One of the most eco-friendly ways to purchase jewelry is to purchase vintage piece that have already been produced. Enter, Ruby Lane, a vintage marketplace where sellers can share their own listings with prices for any budget.

Find super unique pieces like a diamond-encrusted gold and silver grasshopper brooch, or timeless classics like silver lockets and diamond stud earrings. The good part about Ruby Lane? Customers can make offers or message owners for more details, and save favorites so you can peruse at leisure.

Final Verdict

OurCommonplace (view at ourCommonplace) is great because of its wide array of jewelry on offer, plus its ethical measures in place. Also, the website is super searchable and allows users to filter through results, which means you can search for items depending on the issues most important to you.

Of course, we also have to give Ruby Lane (view at Ruby Lane) a shout out, as keeping already made jewelry in use is a win for the environment. Plus, who doesn’t love owning a great vintage piece you can pass down from generations?

What to Look for in Sustainable Jewelry

Kimberly Process

When looking at diamonds, it’s important to look for diamonds that go through the Kimberly Process, which is a trade regime with the goal of preventing the goal of conflict diamonds. A conflict diamond is a rough diamond used to finance wars against governments around the world, and are often associated with human rights abuses. 

Pre-Loved

Vintage pieces are also a great way to be eco-friendly while jewelry shopping, as vintage jewelry has already been produced, meaning no new materials or labor are needed for production. Yes, it’s hard to know where vintage pieces came from sometimes, but simply keeping them in existence keeps new materials from needed to be extracted and saves energy. 

Jewelry designers that recycle precious metals and upcycle other materials also help to lower the impact of their goods.

Transparency

It’s also important to look for ethically-mined and manufactured jewelry. You’ll know if a company is using sustainable and ethical measures for their jewelry if they’re transparent about where they source their pieces from, and use responsible practices such as sustainable materials and fair wages and labor for workers. Sustainable and ethical pieces also have a smaller impact on the environment and have no conflicts, so look for companies who have a clear policy on sustainability and ethics. 

Your Taste

Some people will certainly make the case that jewelry isn't necessary at all, but for others personal adornments are an important part of self-expression. Nonetheless, buying anything that doesn't get used is wasteful, so we recommend giving yourself the time and space to select jewelry that you really love and will wear often.

FAQs

Are there any sustainable jewelry certifications?

For diamonds, the Kimberley Process is an important checkmark to look at. The Kimberley Process reduces conflict diamonds, and covers nearly all global diamond production. If a company can’t provide a Kimberley Process certificate, it should be a red flag for purchasers. 

The Responsible Jewellery Council is another organization to watch for when choosing sustainable pieces. With more than 1,200 members, this organization focuses on issues like health and safety of workers, responsible supply chains, and labor rights. 

The Institute for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is a third-party certification available for industrial-sized mining sites. It applies to specific mines themselves rather than companies that oversee mines. 

As always, Fair Trade products made from fair-trade materials and fair-trade production measures are important to look at. Fair-trade products are backed by companies that work to improve working conditions and better environmental practices and wages. 

Is vintage and second-hand jewelry more sustainable than new jewelry?

There are pros and cons to both new jewelry and second-hand jewelry, but we say if you find a second-hand piece you love, absolutely go for it. With new jewelry, you obviously have the opportunity to customize pieces and be the first owner, but with vintage pieces, you can get more for your money by avoiding traditional new jewelry mark-ups and lessen your impact on the environment by not buying into the demand (labor, mining, mark-ups, etc.) that comes with new pieces.

Vintage pieces have already been created, so you don’t have to worry about environmental factors for the most part, and you can actually feel better by knowing you’re continuing the lifecycle of a vintage piece that might have otherwise ended up being discarded.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger is committed to helping our readers reduce the environmental impact of their day-to-day lives. Author Amanda Ogle is a veteran reporter who loves writing about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can. She enjoys giving readers an honest idea of where to buy sustainable products online that make a difference in our environment.