Sustainable jewelry brands are on the rise. As technology advances and consumers expectations become more environmentally focused, jewelry brands in the UK and beyond are offering beautiful, practical and eco-friendly options. Here we review six of the best sustainable jewelry brands and their products, from playful earrings to “keep forever” rings, to advise you on your next purchase.
For us, the absolute crème de la crème of sustainable jewelry is Emma Aitchison, who hand crafts all of her nature-inspired pieces from eco-silver in her studio in the English countryside.
What to look for when shopping for sustainable jewelry
In 2020, we understand as consumers that our buying choices shouldn’t come at an expense to the environment, but does shopping sustainably mean sacrificing style?
Well, when it comes to sustainable jewelry, we can promise you this isn’t the case. And we should know – we’ve conducted an in-depth review of the best eco-friendly jewelry brands out there. When looking for sustainable jewelry, there are a few things to consider - from how the brand you’re buying into has innovated its business to cut down its impact on the environment to the packaging used, and of course the quality of design.
First up, don’t confuse being sustainable with ethical. While many brilliant, independent jewelry brands work with charities to empower women, for instance, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the brand is also focused on reducing its impact on the earth.
When it comes to jewelry brands who claim to put the earth first, you should be looking for those which go above and beyond to reduce their carbon footprint. London-based Wild & Moon, for example, run their studio using renewable energy, while Emma Aitchison has worked to put thorough recycling systems in place so that nothing in her studio is ever wasted.
A lot of jewelry brands are partnering with environmental charities to help offset their carbon footprint, too. Kind Jewelry work with One Tree Planted and plant a tree every time they sell a piece. It’s also a good idea to think about where you are and order jewelry within your country so that it doesn’t have to be shipped across the world, therefore reducing its carbon footprint.
Sustainable jewelry should ideally use mostly, if not all, recycled materials, whether these be precious metals, wood or acrylics. Ecosilver is rising in popularity and simply means silver that has already been used in one form, and has now been melted down to make another. This process doesn’t affect the look of the metal or make its appearance any less special; it looks brand new. This process continues its lifespan and stems the demand for mined metals. Mining is a huge contributing factor to climate change - it emits greenhouse gases and causes erosion, contamination to water supplies and destroys wildlife and their habitats. The demand for new precious metals continues to rise, so it’s important to buy with brands who focus on a circular economy and using materials already in use, which applies to gemstones, too.
Eco-friendly packaging is a must when you’re buying sustainably. Most jewelry brands who champion sustainability are keen to shout about having conscious packaging so they’ll probably mention this on their website, but if you’re ever unsure just drop them an email and check. The best packaging is recyclable so that you can dispose of it responsibly after it’s arrived, but also is made from FSC certified or recycled materials, sourced locally and no extra bits of paper like invoices that could be emailed.
As we say, being good to the planet doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish. There are plenty of sustainable jewelry brands out there with a diverse range of aesthetics. Layering is a big trend at the moment and brands like Milly Grace have embraced this wholeheartedly with a range of delicate, dainty chains that look great piled on top of each other. They even have a “layering inspiration” section on their website. Lima Lima is all about abstract pieces with interesting, angular shapes based in architecture and art. Or, check out Emma Aitchison’s nature-inspired rings, necklaces and bracelets which have been created to reflect rippling waves or bubbling magma.
Best sustainable jewelry for most people
We love that founder Tansy Haak is inspired by the simple beauty that can be found in nature, which is why you’ll find a lot of fine chains with singular pendants featuring engravings or designs that reflect the moon, stars or sun. She makes all of her designs by hand in her studio using recycled silver and gold or ethically sourced materials. To ensure they have a long life, they can also be repaired for free. Kind is partnered with One Tree Planted, so every time a purchase is made from the website a tree is planted somewhere in the world through the charity. The pieces are of beautiful quality and would appeal to a wide range of people with their effortless aesthetic.
The best premium sustainable jewelry brand
If sustainability is your main focus, Emma Aitchison is ahead of the curve regarding her commitment to the planet, on everything from the metals she uses to her packaging. The unique nature of the jewelry’s designs is truly beautiful and will have you fascinated looking at their twists and turns the more you wear them. She specialises in cool, minimalist pieces like chunky stacking rings that look powerful when worn alone or paired with other pieces. We’re also big fans of Emma Aitchison’s packaging and presentation. Pieces arrive in a soft, slightly textured jewelry box which has been monogrammed, with a matching canvas bag and lovely burnt orange, illustrated tissue paper. She includes a small bundle of wire wool to help you remove tricky patches of dirt or blemishes and a polishing cloth and a thoughtful note on what inspired your new piece.
Read in full: Emma Aitchison Swell ring review
The best budget sustainable jewelry brand
Milly Grace is a one-stop-shop for layering necklaces at brilliant prices for the eco-conscious. You really can’t go wrong with these pretty, dainty, on-trend pieces that won’t break the bank and come well-presented in an eco-friendly gift box with the brand’s logo embossed in gold on the outside and a cute, illustrated thank you card. Plus, the founder Emily is passionate and enthusiastic about the family-run nature of the business and always keen for customers to reach out and connect. We love Milly Grace’s fine, gold necklaces which look great worn together.
Best sustainable jewelry brand for 'everyday’
There’s a lot that makes this brand special. It’s clear that the founders, Annabel and Georgina, pour their passion into creating a product that’s symbolic of friendship and connection, but they’re keen to give back, too. They’re transparent about the way their jewelry is made. Even their gift boxes explain that they only work with a well-established producer and use recycled materials. Any metals they use which aren’t recycled have an environmental certification and Little by Little offers repairs on jewelry (for a fee) so that your piece can be re-worn again and again. The brand also has a strong social impact focus and has partnered with the Luminary Bakery which supports disadvantaged women with employment and emotional support. But aside from all this is the fact that these are pretty, delicate pieces that look great worn every day.
Best accessible sustainable jewelry brand
Pandora may need no introduction (the Danish brand is a global phenomenon) but what we do need to highlight is the brand's conscious effort to give back to the environment. Pandora prides itself in its sustainability, using eco-factories and recycled materials to create its products.
While we all love diamonds, they're incredibly harmful to the planet which is why Pandora uses man made diamonds, known as cubic zirconia, for most of their sparkly jewels, including their famous charms. On top of that, 100% of the gold used in pieces like Pandora's stackable rings is recycled as well as 88% of the silver too. This stunning Sparkling Daisy Flower Crown Ring is the perfect example of their sustainable offerings.
For the products that include the real deal, they only buy from certified, reputable suppliers as they're part of the RJC, Responsible Jewellery Council.
Best sustainable jewelry brand for playful, quirky designs
Wolf & Moon’s big selling point is their playful aesthetic. The brand is founded by Hannah Davis who originally won over a cult following at London markets with her geometric designs and bright colour palettes. Now, the brand’s designs stretch far and wide - we love the fruit-themed range, which currently includes strawberries, cherries and peaches. We also rate that the brand uses innovative methods to reduce its carbon footprint such as powering their studio with renewable energy and working with eco-minded company Ecologi to offset carbon emissions and plant a tree for every purchase.
Best sustainable jewelry for artsy types
Founder Rhiannon Hart says she’s inspired by architecture, art, interior design and sculpture when designing her modern, forward-thinking pieces. These creative influences become clear when you look at the breadth of interesting and often abstract rings, necklaces and earrings on the website. Lima Lima’s packaging gives full pizzazz with punchy turquoise and peony pink packaging. This is complimented with a cute cotton pouch, illustrated with Lima Lima’s cool metallic branding.