Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend surely didn’t have Mother Earth on the mind. While getting your S.O. some new bling for Valentine’s Day seems like a no-brainer, being able to do so in an ethical manner can be more challenging than resisting those adorable little girls trying to sell you cookies outside the grocery store (actually on second thought, maybe I should buy 10 boxes of Thin Mints).
Most people have heard about the issues surrounding diamonds (Blood Diamond, anyone?), but fewer people are aware that mining for other gemstones, as well as gold, silver and other metals also do their fair share of harm. The mining process and techniques used for these can be devastating to the environment — contaminating the bodies of water, the soil and the air around mines. Not to mention the human toll — civil wars, violence, forced labor and dangerous working conditions, to name a few. But, as always, there are companies out there that are working towards change.
A little partial on this one — my engagement ring and my wedding ring are products of Brilliant Earth — but it’s pretty great that the company stands by their belief that high quality fine jewelry doesn’t have to come at a great human or environmental cost. Whether you are looking to pop the big question this Valentine’s Day or you just want a nice little piece of fine jewelry, this is the place to go. The company not only consistently creates beautiful jewelry, they also consistently work to make the jewelry industry more ethical, transparent and sustainable.
Brilliant Earth guarantees that their diamonds originate from ethical and environmentally responsible sources. They also use recycled metals — currently they use reclaimed silver, gold, platinum and palladium. They also work with nonprofits to improve consumer education about the industry and donate 5% of their profits to help communities that have suffered from the unethical practices in the jewelry industry.
If there ever was a cool girl of ethical jewelry, it would have to be Catbird. Catbird carries tons of beautiful pieces from other designers, but has also created their own line that is equally beautiful, sparkling and a little bit unexpected. All of their jewelry is made in their Brooklyn studio with recycled or fair trade gold and all stones are conflict-free. They’re also a member of No Dirty Gold, an international campaign that works to educate consumers, retailers and manufacturers about the environmental impacts of the gold mining industry, as well as tries to influence people in the industry to end their human rights and environmental abuses. P.S. their Wedding & Engagement collection is to die for.
Purpose Jewelry is a social enterprise that provides opportunities to women that have been rescued from the sex trafficking trade. The company involves survivors with everything from the creation of the jewelry to the shipping — providing them with both a fair wage and life skills for the future. In addition, through their non-profit, International Sanctuary, the survivors also are provided education, health care and counseling. So not only are you purchasing a brilliant piece of jewelry, but you’re also giving to a great cause. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Raven & Lily
On a similar front, Raven & Lily is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design. From its onset the company has sought to alleviate poverty among marginalized women by employing them at a fair wage and at a safe job, thus giving them a sustainable income, and access to health care and education. A Certified B-Corp company, their products are also eco-friendly in both sourcing and production, they consistently give back to the artisan communities they work with, they are members of the Fair Trade Federations and Ethical Fashion Forum and were given the Sustainable Brand Leader for Jewelry Award. And did I mention their pieces are pretty? Cuz they are.