Sustainability is (rightfully) informing our buying choices now more than ever and when it comes to sustainable jewelry, independent brands like Emma Aitchison are leading the charge on how to make beautiful pieces which don’t cost the earth – literally.
- See our guide to the best sustainable jewelry brands
If you’re new to buying eco-friendly jewelry, Emma Aitchison’s Swell Ring in silver is a great place to start. It’s the perfect jewelry box staple with a chunky look and smooth finish which will give any outfit an edge. It’s been designed to be stacked and Emma even suggests buying two Swell rings and wearing them together for a head-turning look.
The Swell Ring in recycled silver is priced at £110. If a gold look is more your thing, you can select the option for 18 carat gold plating for £165, which sits on top of a recycled silver base. Most of the pieces in Emma Aitchison’s ring collection sit between the £100 - £200 price range. Emma doesn’t often do sales which as it’s more expensive to run a business sustainably, makes sense. But she does sometimes offer her customers surprise discounts and treats via her newsletter and secret online portal called The Wishing Well.
The Swell ring is a design-focused piece. Its form is unusual, characterful and thanks to its handmade nature – completely unique. Emma is inspired by nature and the Swell ring’s curves and dips represent the ocean and once you know that, you can really see the creative journey she has been on which makes it even more special. This ring definitely suits the current trends as it’s chunky with an edge and is designed for layering and stacking with other rings. But there’s something timeless about it, too. The ocean is a timeless muse and there are no engravings or details that point towards a fashion-focused trend, so we don’t see why this piece would ever fall out of favour. Plus, it has an interesting mix of finishes with certain parts of the ring appearing smooth and shiny, while others are full of grooves and exude rawness. This again creates a sense of uniqueness and is a far cry from the mass-produced products we see sitting on the shelves at high street stores.
As beautiful as gemstones are, they offer more opportunities for clothes to be snagged on sharp edges, or raised stones to get caught while you’re scrabbling for your keys. Plus, if you’re wearing a ring which has a central focus, such as a diamond for example, if it gets pushed around your finger and swivels to the back, the effect is then ruined. The Swell ring does not suffer from any of these problems. As previously mentioned, its shape is very smooth and it doesn’t get caught on anything. The thick band makes it difficult for it to fall off and the flowing design means it doesn’t matter if it swivels around your finger. It’s a very practical ring to wear day-to-day.
Linked to practicality is comfort, but again the Swell ring gets top marks. We found the Swell ring a snug fit which we liked. As it is the same thickness all the way around it does touch a larger surface area of the two fingers next to it than my other rings do, but as it is so smooth this wasn’t a problem. It didn’t fall off or, as mentioned above, get caught on anything.
Emma Aitchison goes above and beyond to ensure that customers are prepared and equipped with everything they need to keep their piece clean and in good condition. We were pleasantly surprised to find inside the (beautiful and recyclable) packaging, instructions for three different methods of cleaning, depending on the kind of metal you have purchased. Not only is this really helpful, but it also came with a small bundle of wire wool to use as part of one of the methods and a soft, grey cleaning cloth to polish with. All of these elements were packaged in an on-brand way, tucked into little bags or folded up neatly and a joy to open. We would say, though, that because the Swell ring has two exterior folds that rim the edges of the piece, this creates a cavity which has the potential to get dusty and dirty. We like the design so wouldn’t see this as a flaw, but something to be aware of and to recognise that it is quite fiddly to clean.
So, you’re here because you care about the environment, right? Therefore, it’s important that if you’re investing in a piece of sustainable jewelry you’ll want to make sure the brand you’re buying from is genuinely doing everything they can to ensure that they aren’t negatively impacting the earth. Emma is an advocate for living sustainably and ethically in all ways, something which she puts at the heart of her business. All jewelry is made using 100% recycled metals and gemstones, plus all of the packaging it comes in is made from recycled materials and can be recycled. There is no plastic and a zero-waste approach to this packaging too, with even the tape used to close boxes being fully recyclable. Emma regularly cross checks all of the suppliers she works with to ensure that they meet her standards and finds new ones if any fall short. She donates 5% of every online sale to Survival International, a charity that works with tribal peoples to help them protect their lives and land. She is currently investigating a carbon neutral delivery method and runs her studio using green energy, as well as putting thorough in-house recycling systems in place.
Processing and shipping times
We all know how frustrating it can be when you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for a new item and after taking the plunge and spending your hard-earned money on it, it takes forever to come. But, if you’re committed to shopping sustainably it’s important to remember that conscious investments are not the same as fast fashion impulse buys that arrive on your doorstep the very next day. Emma explains on her website that everything she sells is hand crafted in the UK – no big production lines or unethical factories crammed full of workers. Because of this it takes her two to three weeks to create a piece and have it sent out, although she also understands that when it comes to special occasions, you might be desperate to secure that dream gift for a friend and need something a little sooner. In those cases, she welcomes customers to get in touch and she will see what she can do. In my case, the Swell ring was already in stock and Emma sent it out straight away using shipped recorded delivery and it arrived within a few days.
Emma Aitchison’s packaging is some of the nicest we’ve seen, ever. All of her packaging has been designed with brand coherence in mind, from the burnt orange tissue paper illustrated with earthy swirls and a monogrammed “thank you” sticker, to the taupe and orange gift box which has a quality feel, embossed finish and a cork sheet inside – getting eco points as an innovative sustainable material. We also received a monogrammed canvas bag to keep my ring in when travelling and an explainer on the inspiration behind the Swell ring, which was illustrated with ocean waves and a soothing written portrait of how the flowing movements of metal reflect the rippling waves. Just lovely.
Emma Aitchison grew up in the South West English countryside and from a young age felt connected to nature, something which is evident in her work. After studying jewelry design at university and working in London, Emma decided to reawaken her love of nature by returning to her rural roots and set about starting her own business with a deep environmental and ethical ethos. Emma Aitchison has been running as a company since 2016 and has a vision to help shape the jewelry industry to be a better, fairer and more sustainable place. She hopes to prove through her beautiful, quality pieces that it is possible to make sales and run a business in a mindful way.