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Dripping in Ethical Diamonds: How to Shop for Ethical Fine Jewelry

Dripping in Ethical Diamonds: How to Shop for Ethical Fine Jewelry

Dripping in Ethical Diamonds: How to Shop for Ethical Fine Jewelry

Highlights

  • Ethical fine jewelry is all about tracing materials to their source.
  • Support brands that are transparent about materials sourcing and fair treatment of workers.
  • What it means to be “ethical” can be subjective; it depends on individual morals.
  • Ethical jewelry doesn’t mean sacrificing style; find high-end sustainable materials to love!

  • Fine jewelry has graced the necks, wrists, and fingers of the finest among us for centuries. As humans, we are drawn to beautiful things, and what is more beautiful than a sparkling gemstone gifted to us from Mother Earth? As rarities, gemstones, and fine metals have been reserved for only those born into the upper echelons of society; today, anyone can enjoy the same opulence.

    When we wear fine jewelry, we feel like we have entered that forbidden domain of royalty. Jewelry is pure vanity, but it’s a well-deserved vanity; it allows us to treat ourselves like kings and queens. By wearing a beautiful fine jewelry piece, we are presenting our attention and care for ourselves, and that’s a beauty in and of itself.

    There’s something about a fine jewelry piece that elevates our self-worth. Diamonds, gemstones, and gold have always been associated with wealth and success, and wearing them makes us feel as though we are part of something great. There’s a reason why diamonds are a girl’s best friend; they’re an ally to our self-esteem!

    Looking good makes us feel good, yet we can only feel good if we know that our fine jewelry comes from a positive place. It’s no secret that the jewelry industry has problems, and navigating it can sometimes feel overwhelming. So how can we enjoy our favorite jewelry pieces if we don’t know their origins?

    There’s a way to have our cake and eat it, too. All that’s needed is some due diligence to ensure our jewelry is ethically sourced. 

    Here at Clear Givings Market, we want all of our customers to look and feel fantastic and informed. Information is power, and educated shoppers can help create a happier and more sustainable world (while boasting great style). So here is a quintessential guide to ethical jewelry and how to buy it.

    Table of contents

    What is ethical jewelry

    Ethical jewelry refers to any jewelry, especially fine jewelry, that can be traced entirely back to its source and that boasts sustainability and fair treatment of workers.[1] While this seems simple at first, it’s actually quite complicated. 

    Because many jewelry items contain mined materials, like gold and diamonds, their environmental footprint has the potential to be significant. Besides this, the mining industry is strife with the unfair treatment of workers. As these issues have come to light, shoppers have demanded ethically sourced jewelry, boycotting brands that cannot trace their jewelry materials to an environmentally positive source. Rather than encourage ethical sourcing, however, these demands have led misguided industry leaders to create complex supply chains. As a result, individuals are led to believe that their fine jewelry items come from clean sources when, in reality, they have dark origins.

    We’re not here to bring feelings of doom. On the contrary, we believe our shoppers should be able to feel glamorous while supporting people and the planet. As long as we’re diligent, we can have the best of both worlds with conscious jewelry. We just need to ensure we’re supporting socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

    At Clear Givings Market, we partner with brands that implement sustainable and ethical practices. So when you want ethical jewelry but don’t have time to analyze supply chains, don’t worry; we’ve done the work for you.

    Thanks to the digital area and normalization of business transparency, the jewelry industry has taken strides forward in terms of responsibility. We can see this in improved labor standards, better third-party certifications, and increased transparency.[1] This enables shoppers to make responsible choices regarding jewelry. 

    There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ethical sourcing—ethics are subjective—so before we start our ethical jewelry search, we want to align ourselves with our values. For example, do we want jewelry made from 100% recycled materials, or are we okay with mined materials that are certified fair trade? Of course, these answers will depend upon personal views, so we can take some time to reflect and determine which values we hold most dear.

    Once aligned with our ethics, we can search for brands that reflect them. Brands that can claim sustainable sourcing will be transparent. Their ethics and sustainability will be clearly stated, and they will be happy to answer any questions so their customers can feel secure in their practices.

    Third-party certification is another great way to gauge a brand’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility. For example, brands that use recycled materials will have certification, like the SCS certification, assuring customers that materials are, in fact, recycled. Likewise, brands that prefer to source their gold and gemstones from mines will carry fair trade certifications, ensuring the fair treatment of workers and the highest environmental standards. 

    When it comes to ethical jewelry—and pretty much everything sustainability-related, for that matter—it’s all about transparency. If a brand is clear about its ethics and where its products come from, it’s a good sign that its commitment to our planet is genuine.

    Recycled versus mined: which is better?

    As with all things sustainability, this is not a simple question to answer. It may initially seem obvious (of course, recycling is better than extracting raw materials, right?). Still, sustainability is equally about people as it is about our environment, and we must also consider the economy. Many countries, especially developing ones, rely upon mining for their economies. Without mining, millions of people would be without work. So while opting for recycled materials is undoubtedly better for the planet, we can sometimes make concessions to support our fellow man. Sustainability is a process, and while we can dream about a world where mining isn’t necessary, we aren’t there yet. It’s still okay to support mines that are committed to minimal environmental impact and the fair treatment of their workers.

    We get to decide what is most important to us and the practices that best align with our morals. From there, we can determine which we’d rather support: recycled materials or ethically mined materials. 

    Ethical fine jewelry sourcing at Clear Givings Market

    The jewelry brands we carry on our site boast unambiguous sourcing of all of their materials, whether they’ve chosen to support fair trade mining or recycled materials. This holds true for every single material used. 

    Besides the ethical sourcing of materials, the products offered by these brands are crafted in an ethical way. For example, many of these brands offer fine jewelry handcrafted in the United States, and those crafted overseas are made by qualified artisans who enjoy fair working conditions. Often, the brands on our site utilize skilled workers in developing countries who can genuinely use the support of our business. 

    We carefully vet each brand for its commitment to responsible business and ensure that its products, from the extraction of materials to the shipment of each item, are created in a way that results in positivity above all else. 

    Sustainable jewelry materials to love

    Determining whether our jewelry comes from an ethical source that aligns with our morals is only the first (but essential) step in the journey toward ethical fine jewelry. Now it’s time for the next (much more fun) step: choosing your favorite sustainable jewelry materials!

    The materials that you choose will mostly be up to personal preference. However, once brands are thoroughly vetted, ensuring their commitment to both people and our planet, we can shift our focus to aesthetics and style. So let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite fine jewelry materials.

    Gold (either recycled or fair trade)

    When shopping for gold jewelry, 14k gold or 18k gold are good options. Pure gold (24k gold) is not ideal for jewelry. Gold is incredibly malleable, making it an excellent material for forming delicate jewelry pieces; it also means that pure gold will easily scratch and bend. In addition, 14k gold and 18k gold contain alloys that strengthen the material and ensure the longevity of your jewelry. 

    Gold comes in three tones: rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. Yellow gold is true to gold’s natural yellow tone and rose, and white gold tones are achieved by mixing colored alloys—rose gold usually comes from copper[2], and white gold often comes from palladium, silver, or nickel.[3]The tone you choose will depend on your personal preference and skin tone. For example, white gold complements cool skin tones, while yellow gold pairs well with warm skin tones. 

    You can opt for solid gold or gold-plated jewelry. While gold-plated jewelry is less expensive, the gold plating will fade over time and eventually require re-plating.  

    (Ethically sourced) diamonds and gemstones are a girl’s best friend

    Just like with gold, ethically mined gemstones or recycled gemstones are two sustainable ways to enjoy some luxurious bling. Either way, the jewelry should carry third-party certification to ensure ethical sourcing. 

    Choosing a gemstone can be a painstaking process. First, there are considerations of the gemstone itself: is the classic diamond preferred, or do your fingers beg to be adorned with a bright green emerald? Then, one must think about the cut: should one go with the timeless princess cut or the more modern pear cut? Finally, we must consider the setting: is a sleek and contemporary bezel setting the way to go, or would the gemstone be better served in a prong setting? 

    These questions will all be answered as a matter of taste. What do you prefer? 

    Combine fine jewelry with upcycled materials

    Who says that fine jewelry needs to be dripping in diamonds? We love how creative people can be, and we’re always amazed to see how someone can use natural materials or combine something like used bicycle inner tubes and fine jewelry. When done well, recycled gold and upcycled rubber can actually make a fantastic pair.

    Those who are looking to elevate their fine jewelry look into a more modern aesthetic that’s also sustainable will love wearing upcycled materials. And they’ll have loads of fun surprising their friends when they ask, “What are your earrings made of?”

    Brass

    A common jewelry material, brass, is known for its golden tone. Although it will fade over time, some people love the enduring look that faded brass boasts. It’s a durable metal, making it ideal for bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces, anklets, or other jewelry items that may see a lot of wear and tear as you move around. This also makes it an excellent base for gold-plated jewelry; while it might need to be re-plated, the base of the jewelry will remain intact.[4]

    Like all metals, brass is 100% recyclable, so it’s easy to find jewelry made out of recycled brass, and when brass jewelry reaches the end of its life, it can be sent to a recycling center to be made into something brand new. This makes it an excellent choice for both your jewelry box and our planet. 

    It’s also usually less expensive than gold, so it’s great for those looking for high-end jewelry on a budget. 

    Things to look for in a sustainability-minded retailer

    At Clear Givings Market, we do the hard part for you by vetting all our brands to ensure the highest sustainability and ethical sourcing standards. Even so, we know that a crucial part of being a sustainability-focused shopper is due diligence. Responsible shoppers want to know for sure that their favorite products come from a positive place. So, we’ll let you in on four simple ways to verify whether or not a brand’s sustainability claims are valid.

  • Transparency: a truly ethical brand will be happy to share with its customers where its materials come from and its sustainability practices.
  • Third-party certification: brands seeking sustainability will have third-party certification, ensuring their products come from ethical sources.
  • Continual progression: when a brand is focused on the environment, it will always look for ways to minimize its environmental footprint and take responsibility for its impact.
  • Willingness to admit error: we all slip up, and that’s okay. In the sustainability world, best practices are constantly shifting as we learn more about how we impact the planet. Brands that realize their misstep and fix it, all while remaining transparent about their error and how they will rectify it, can be trusted to create truly sustainable products to love.
  •  

    Buying ethical fine jewelry as a gift

    Great things come in small gift boxes, and fine jewelry can be the most incredible gifts! A small gift box under a Christmas tree or hidden within a pocket garners butterflies of excitement as our loved one wonders, “Is this the jewelry that I’ve always been dreaming of?”

    Gifting fine jewelry can also be a bit scary; what if they don’t like it? Luckily, we have a few ways to help ensure that your fine jewelry gift goes over in the best way possible.

    1. Check their jewelry box for current styles. Chances are, your loved one already has a jewelry collection in their preferred style. Take a peek in their jewelry box to see what styles they are drawn to, and try to find something new.
    2. Stick to their favorite jewelry types. For example, do you notice that your partner never wears bracelets? This is likely not because they have never thought of buying one for themselves but because they don’t like the look or feel of a bracelet. When in doubt, start asking surreptitious questions. It’s worth risking ruining the surprise a little bit rather than receiving something they don’t want.
    3. Ask their best friend. Chances are, they’ve had plenty of talks over style with your loved one and have gone shopping together. So their best friend will not only know exactly what your loved one wants, but they’ll be ecstatic to help you make their favorite person happy.
    4. Fine jewelry gifts are nothing to procrastinate about. Many of the pieces offered at Clear Givings Market are made-to-order and may take up to 4 - 6 weeks to deliver. So don’t get caught in a bind; plan your fine jewelry gift months in advance. 

    Bonus: Fine jewelry care

    Fine jewelry care comes down to three things: proper storage, cleaning, and avoiding certain chemicals and products.

    Storage: Fine jewelry items, especially those made of gold, should be stored separately in a soft bag. This will help avoid scratches and knicks from other jewelry stored in the jewelry box. 

    Cleaning: When fine jewelry loses its luster, it can be gently cleaned at home. Expensive products aren’t needed; just use mild soap, lukewarm water, and a soft-bristle brush. Simply let the jewelry soak in a bowl with lukewarm water and a dab of mild soap. After a few minutes, take the jewelry out and gently buff away all dirt and debris.[5]If your jewelry contains pearls, use a soft washcloth rather than a brush to wipe the jewelry clean, and strings of pearls should not be soaked.[7]

    What to avoid:While pure gold does not tarnish, the alloys in 14k and 18k gold can tarnish if they aren’t cared for properly. Furthermore, gold-plated jewelry will lose its plating faster when exposed to certain things. To keep your gold jewelry pristine, remove your jewelry when showering, cooking, or swimming, and try to keep your jewelry dry for as long as possible.[6]

    When fine jewelry loses its luster and cleaning doesn’t bring it back, it can be taken to a professional jeweler for cleaning and polishing. Contact us at contact@cleargivingsmarket.com to partner you with a sustainable jeweler. 

    Whether you are looking to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or simply mark a special occasion, finding ethical fine jewelry doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is a little bit of research. However, we understand that not everyone has the time to vet their ethical brands properly. That’s why we’ve done it for you! Make Clear Givings Market your one-stop shop for all your ethical jewelry needs, whether for yourself or a loved one.

    Sources

    [1]https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-015-2893-9

    [2]https://www.benarijewelers.com/precious-metals#:~:text=Rose%20old%20is%20an%20 alloy,which%20makes%2018k%20rose%20gold.

    [3]https://taylorandhart.com/us/ring-guidance/metals/white-gold#the-basics

    [4]https://www.thecreativefolk.com/brass-jewelry-pros-cons/#:~:text=What%20is%20 brass%20jewelry%3F,many%20 artisans%20and%20jewelry%20 lovers.

    [5]https://www.marthastewart.com/1540841/how-clean-jewelry#:~:text=The%20most%20tried%2Dand%2d True,bowl%20with%20son%20lukewarm%20water.

    [6]https://www.allinfaith.com/blogs/all-in-faith-blog/does-gold-tarnish

    [7]https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-clean-pearls-2042649



    Aria Crane
    Aria Crane

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