A Quick Guide To Buying Ethical Jewelry
That beautiful ring in the shop window that you see on your way to work is calling for you to buy it. While you want to, in the back of your mind, you have some questions about the ethics behind the gold and the diamonds in the ring.
Not in relation to spoiling yourself, but in relation to where these materials came from. In recent years, there has been more emphasis in the media on things such as diamond mining, with images of child laborers being used to get those precious jewels out of the ground. While you know you want to buy yourself a diamond ring or bracelet, you simply don’t want to be associated with such awful practices.
Luckily, more stores around the world are refusing to purchase diamonds and other jewels that come from such backgrounds, meaning that the ring you see on your way to work is more than likely to be legitimate and not the product of child labor. But how else can you be sure that your jewelry is not linked to practices that you don’t want to support?
Yes, you know you want that emerald bracelet from the shop at the mall, and after the month you’ve had, surely you deserve it? Unfortunately, when it comes to the trade of stones, you are more likely to find an ethically sourced diamond than other semi-precious stones – so to be ethical, it is best to minimize stones in your future jewelry purchases.
Why not choose laboratory created gems instead? These are just as pretty and can usually be found in bracelets relating to birth month stones, or religion-based bands, like Sikh or Christian bracelets for women. That way, you can have the gemstones without the worries about where they came from.
Many diamonds that are used in jewelry today are tracked and come with a certificate that shows where they have been mined and the source. These are highlighted by diamond brands who ensure that the diamonds that make it into rotation in the United States are from conflict-free areas. But the variety of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires differ around the globe, as do the practices that get them out of the ground. So, to be safe, minimize the use of all natural stones to ensure that your jewelry is ethical.
It may seem odd, but in the world of jewelry, some companies take in old and used pieces of jewelry, extract the jewels and recycle them into new pieces. That way, there is no new labor needed to get the jewels out of the ground, and the only people involved will be jewelry makers. This is considered an incredibly ethical option and is supported by the Responsible Jewellery Council or RJC.
Also, like most other things, when you buy a recycled stone in a piece of jewelry, it is more likely to be cost-effective, meaning you won’t have to spend your months’ wages to get your hands on that new ring that you want.
Research the Company Or Market
Many online stores, like Etsy, will only sell products that have been made by those that have a store on their website. Does this mean that the products are ethical? Of course not, but you have the option to conduct your own research on the stores that you buy from on sites like Etsy and can even converse with the makers of the jewelry. Most stores online will proudly sport an ‘ethically sourced’ badge, which will give you an indication that they are legitimate. However, there is no harm in asking more questions if you are unsure. Ask about the gemstones themselves. Where did they come from? Are they recycled? The shorter the supply chain is and the more open and honest the trader or store is, the more likely you are to have a gemstone that comes from an ethical source.
The world is slowly turning its attention to second-hand clothing, as a means of reducing the impact that fashion has on the environment. Why should the rules change when it comes to jewelry? When looking for a diamond ring or bracelet, rather than looking in the mall, why not go online and look for used jewelry on websites like eBay? It is true that these pieces of jewelry may not have been ethically sourced when they were new, but by buying second-hand, you reduce the revenue that the potential unethical sources would receive if the piece had been bought first-hand. Also, as with the recycled stones being used in jewelry, you will likely pay a lower cost for a second-hand piece of jewelry online than you would a first-hand piece from a store. Why not attend garage sales and thrift stores for earrings and necklaces to add to your collection?