The jewellery industry is known for being one of the most damaging out there, as the modern processes required to extract gemstones and metals, then to have them verified, cleaned, cut and turned into jewellery requires significant amounts of resources. So, by buying jewellery without a second thought from anyone, you may be contributing to these damaging practices. Luckily, we’re here to give you a few alternatives, whether you’re shopping in London or LA, to make it more sustainable! This also often means that you will save money, so it’s a win-win.
The obvious thing to do when shopping for sustainable jewellery is to find new brands focused on sustainability, by looking at their About Us page and their commitment to be eco-friendly, and there are so many brands out there who offer this, so if the options below aren’t suitable to you, this is of course something you can to do shop more sustainably for jewellery. However, we probably won’t be telling you much that you didn’t already know, so we have taken a slightly different approach and are introducing a few unique alternatives to help you shop as sustainably as possible.
The first thing you can do to shop for jewellery more sustainably is to shop vintage pieces! We’re not saying that the creation of vintage jewellery was completely eco-friendly and ethical, however, it is more so in comparison to modern equivalents.
Firstly, the processes used to extract materials and create jewellery when antique pieces (those over 100 years old) and vintage pieces (over 50 years old) were being made were far less damaging to the environment, as harmful chemicals weren’t used and it was a much more manual process. Additionally, as all of these processes have already been completed once, you are making sure that any damage caused won’t be going to waste. The practices needed to create jewellery were also far less damaging, as mass production barely existed, so everything was still being made on a one-of-a-kind basis. Overall, buying vintage helps to break the cycle of jewellery production, as no new resources are required for you to enjoy this beautiful jewellery.
An added benefit aside from sustainability is that vintage jewellery is also much better value for money. Because the items have already been purchased at least once, they are VAT exempt. So, you could get a vintage diamond ring with the same cut, clarity, carat and colour, and the same quality metals, but for 20% cheaper than a modern equivalent. So, you can enjoy more for your money, whilst also protecting the environment. Sounds good right?
There are so many vintage jewellers all around the world who specialise in different eras or specific gemstones, so when you’re next jewellery shopping, make sure you go to a vintage jeweller and see what you think. It is so enchanting to see vintage jewellery in person, so it is definitely worth giving it a go, even if you just go window shopping.
Choose Lab Grown Gemstones
Another great thing you can do to shop more sustainably is to choose lab grown gemstones. The process required to extract natural gemstones not only results in huge holes being dug down into earth, but so many fossil fuels are needed as well as heavy machinery. Whilst lab grown gemstones do require resources to be created, they are nowhere near on the same scale as natural gemstones. As the demand for diamonds continues to increase and supply is down, they are increasingly difficult to find and therefore require more resources. Many lab grown diamonds are also made using renewable energy, again helping to reduce their environmental impact.
There are also many more benefits to choosing a lab grown diamond, firstly they take so much less time to produce, as an artificial setting is created to mimic the natural creation of diamonds in a much shorter space of time. As a result of this, they also have far fewer defects and better clarity, as less strain has been put on them in the carefully controlled conditions. There are also many myths about gemstones, so for people who are superstitious, lab grown might be the right direction to go in!
Lab grown diamonds are also better value for money, as you can get a comparable diamond for 40-50% cheaper. It is just a much more efficient process, which means the savings can be passed onto the customer. It is also no longer just diamonds that can be created in labs, but most gemstones, so you still have the benefit of a diverse range of choice for your jewellery.
There are a few negatives of lab grown diamonds, one of which being because there are no supply constraints like there are with mined diamonds, the value will depreciate. However, if you are purchasing a special piece for just you to treasure, this won’t be an issue.
Overall, lab grown diamonds are an absolutely fantastic alternative and although they aren’t perfect, they’re a much better alternative to natural gemstones.
Have Old Jewellery Repurposed
Last but not least, you could have existing jewellery repurposed. You might have a piece of family jewellery that isn’t quite right for your style, but instead of letting it sit in a drawer and going to waste, take it to a specialist in jewellery repurposing. You might have a pair of old fashioned gold earrings that you want to be made into huggie hoops, so the metal can be melted down and made into something new, so you can still carry the family history with you but in a different way.
Or, you might have an old family engagement ring that you really want to use for your partner. However, if it isn’t quite to their taste, the gemstone could be put onto another ring, so you still have the same piece of jewellery but just presented in a different way. It could be something as simple as changing the setting that completely transforms how the ring looks. Some people are quite wary of changing vintage family jewellery, however we’re sure that relatives would much rather the jewellery be repurposed slightly and worn and appreciated, rather than left sitting in a drawer because it’s not quite to your taste.
Doing this instead of buying new jewellery is a great way to be more sustainable when it comes to creating new jewellery, as no new materials are required and you just need resources to change the metal or alter the gemstone slightly!