Bestowing your beloved with conflict diamonds and dirty gold is hardly the best way to say “I love you.” Some jewelers are beginning to take notice:
Green Karat: recognizes the damage inflicted on the environment from destructive gold and diamond mining practices, which is why they only use man-made and recycled diamonds and recycled precious metals. Their myKarat program encourages consumers to recycle broken and unused jewelry for store credit. The Vinea ring ($825) is 100 percent post consumer recycled 18k white or yellow gold, available in two widths. greenkarat.com
Brilliant Earth: To the one you love AND to responsible social and environmental values with a ring from San Francisco-based Brilliant Earth. This Platinum Seacrest ring ($1,050 without center stone; $6,500 with center stone) is certified conflict-free, hailing from Canadian mines that promote fair labor practices and environmental sustainability. Five percent of Brilliant Earth’s profits benefit African communities harmed by the diamond mining industry. brilliantearth.com
Kirsten Muenster: Jeweler Kirsten Muenster strives to create “wearable landscapes” by integrating the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi (the observation and appreciation of the natural cycle of life) with found objects, ethically sourced stones and repurposed vintage materials. This necklace is fashioned from recycled sterling silver, druzy quartz, a vintage glass button and fossilized dinosaur bone. Due to the one-of-a-kind nature of Muenster’s designs, prices are available only upon request. kirstenmuenster.com
Rust-Belt: Established jewelry designers Page Neal and Anna Bario joined forces to create Rust-Belt, a line devoted to repurposed materials and eco-conscious practices. Their Sisal Blue ($192) is a vintage enameled chain with a sterling silver clasp packaged in a repurposed glass bottle. Neal and Bario hope to educate others about the issues surrounding the jewelry industry on their blog at rust-belt.org.
Monique Péan uses 100 percent recycled gold and ancient fossilized ivory for her luxury Bering collection. Ten percent of her proceeds go to the Alaska Native Arts Foundation to raise awareness of Alaska native art and culture and the environmental issues they face. These Fjord Ivory Diamond Earrings are conflict-free with sustainably-harvested (ie. found) walrus ivory. Price available upon request. moniquepean.com
The Palma Collection is artisan-crafted from nontoxic, sustainable “vegetable ivory,” which comes from the nut of a rare South American palm, harvested only after it naturally falls from the tree. This Hosono ($36) necklace features vibrant vegetable dyed tagua nut slices strung on a faux suede cotton strap. palmacollection.com
Gwendolyn Davis is “interested in fashion as a vehicle for a more ethical world.” Her Verde Rocks line is a collection of “nouveau vintage” bracelets, necklaces and other goodies created from recycled and organic materials. The Glass Nugget Cuff ($89) is vintage brass adorned with a mosaic of recycled glass pieces. gwen-davis.com
Moonrise Jewelry: Much of Virginia-based Moonrise Jewelry’s wares are handmade by local artists using fairly traded, ethically sourced gemstones or renewable, recycled or reclaimed materials. These Tupelo Earrings ($68) are fair trade citrine and 24K gold vermeil. moonrisejewelry.com
Water is a Human Right: With “water wars” on the not-so-distant horizon, eco designer Linda Loudermilk thinks it’s about time people start paying attention. Her Water is a Human Right collection donates a generous portion of purchase proceeds to the YEW Foundation to support organizations with clean water initiatives. She’s constructed this faucet necklace ($79) from reclaimed silver in hopes of raising money and awareness. lindaloudermilk.com
Tarma Designs offer an alternative to gold and silver mining with their Active Collection, featuring artistic expressions of outdoor activities forged in recycled stainless steel. This Spiral Pendant ($25) was inspired by an Anasazi petroglyph signifying water. tarmadesigns.com
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