How to design jewellery that’s kind to the planet

How to design jewellery that’s kind to the planet
June 24, 2022 Fairina Cheng

The planet has been kind to us. And it’s about time to start giving back.

We, as a society, have started thinking more and more about how our choices on fast fashion and throwaway accessories affect the world we live in (and rightly so).

But this doesn’t mean you need to ditch the luxuries and start growing your own kale. There are simple ways to decrease your environmental footprint and it comes down to the decisions you make around purchases, including significant ones like custom jewellery and engagement rings.

Here, we share a few ways you can design an ethical piece of jewellery that’s kinder to the planet.

Put your pre-loved jewellery to good use

Do you have a stash of old jewellery gathering dust at the back of your sock drawer (think mum’s jewellery from the 80’s or grandma’s old engagement ring)? You may not be caught dead in them now, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Pre-loved jewellery is a great way to create a really special piece without having to mine for new materials. In some cases, both the gemstones and metal can be used and it ticks all the boxes of reduce, reuse and recycle. It can be a great way to imbue your special piece with the story of a family (like Olivia who turned her mum’s engagement ring into her own) and it’s environmentally friendly to boot!

Remember though, some metals don’t melt down as well as others, so chat to your jeweller for advice beforehand.

22ct yellow gold handmade ring in recycled gold, Australian sapphires and natural diamonds

Know where your gems come from

Large-scale mining can be destructive, so choose gems that are sourced ethically and with respect for the environment.

You may have heard of “conflict diamonds” (otherwise known as “blood diamonds”), which are illegally traded diamonds mined in areas controlled by rebel forces and sold to fund wars.

The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that works to prevent these diamonds from entering the legitimate supply chain. However, while this is a step in the right direction, there are a few shortfalls. The Kimberley Process doesn’t cover ethical mining and working conditions nor the use of child labour. It’s also possible for conflict diamonds to be smuggled into the legitimate supply chain, where they are then indistinguishable from diamonds from legitimate sources.

If getting an ethically sourced gem is important to you, consider diamonds that are traceable right to the source (and certified as such) or diamonds that originate from Canada or Australia, which are regulated to higher ethical and environmental standards.

Also remember that your engagement ring doesn’t have to feature a diamond. Sapphires are great choices for engagement rings and are generally sourced on a smaller scale than diamonds, with less automated machinery and often by family-run operations.

Alternative engagement rings - Pink sapphire and rose gold engagement ring with a yellow gold wedding band

Choose lab-created stones (with a caveat)

Lab-created gems are grown in a laboratory under controlled conditions. They are chemically and physically identical to their mined counterparts, the only difference being that they are made by humans instead of the earth.

Because they don’t involve intensive mining, they are a good option to consider for those concerned about the environmental impact related to mining.

However (and here comes the caveat), lab created gems and non sustainability rated lab grown diamonds require a huge amount of energy to produce, resulting in a large carbon footprint. The jury is out on whether lab created stones are truly more environmentally friendly as a whole, unless they’re sustainability rated.

Sustainability rated diamonds are traceable right back to the source, carbon neutral and have a chain of custody that meets strict social and environmental requirements. The certification scheme was designed for both lab created and mined diamonds, however currently only lab created diamond producers have stepped up to apply for certification.

Read more about lab grown diamonds vs mined diamonds.

Get in touch to find your sustainability rated lab created diamond.

Lab created diamond, platinum and gold ring

Ask your jeweller lots of questions

It’s time to ask the tough questions. Choose a jeweller that vets their suppliers and has processes in place to minimise their environmental impact.

As an independent jewellery brand, we craft pieces in small batches or make them to order. No throwaway jewellery or mass production here! We love working with customers to choose ethically sourced gemstones and repurpose old jewellery into new custom pieces. Read more about our approach to sustainability.

Some questions you may want to ask your jeweller are:

  1. How and where are your metals mined?
  2. I’m looking for an ethically sourced sapphire. What do you recommend and why?
  3. How can I make my engagement ring or jewellery as eco-friendly as possible?

Looking for an ethically made piece of jewellery?

First of all, thank you! It’s so refreshing to hear from people who shop thoughtfully and with the environment in mind. Book a call or send an email and we’d be happy to share how you can create a piece of jewellery that’s kinder to the planet.

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