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What is Ethical Jewelry?


In a world ever evolving to improve energy consumption as well as environmental protection, all aspects on how products are manufactured should be considered too. Everyday items from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive, even to the furniture we sit on, was produced in a factory somewhere in the world. How they are produced as well as what they are produced with and who is producing them is a key factor in the sustainability of our environment and health.

Sustainability is simply the act of meeting our needs without impacting that of our future needs. It provides minimal impact on the environment and does not involve the impact of conflicts. The selling of blood diamonds from African civilizations that were enduring civil wars in order to fund invading militia or warlords started in the 1990s. There are even still some illegal trades happening to this day to fund some of these organizations. This aspect in the jewelry industry is immoral and unethical.

Ethical jewelry is produced in a way that does not impact the environment they are manufactured in nor the people that are involved in making them. These accessories are produced in a way that contributes to achieving sustainability for not only the environment but the economy and society for the world.

The Importance of Ethical Jewelry

When considering a purchase, the thought of who made it, the products used or even the environment that it was manufactured in is usually never considered. Jewelry production starts at some type of mining process. This can be for the metal ore used or the gemstones needed for the design of the jewelry. Some mining tactics can have major environmental impacts. Some of these impacts can include deforestation, soil erosion and contamination of soils or waterways. This is just one of the many factors not considered when making these types of purchases.

Human Rights

Unlivable wages and child labor are just some examples of exploiting human rights. These exploitations can even go as far as forced overtime and hazardous work conditions. In 2005 a factory in Bangladesh caught fire and about 250 workers were killed because the doors were locked.

Child labor is defined as work that robs children of their childhood. It is work that is mentally and physically dangerous to the children. Due to mining of minerals and gems being in poorer areas, children are forced to work alongside family in hopes of surviving. There is approximately a million children in the world subjected to these conditions. They are robbed of an education and a healthy life. They are exposed to working conditions that cause respiratory damage, hearing and vision loss as well as musculoskeletal injuries, just to name a few.

Some other sides to the violation of human rights are slavery and human displacement in some parts of the world. Migrant workers have left their homes sometimes because of conflicts within their country. They are looking for better living conditions and pay, which is not usually what they acquire. They usually have some sort of debt or family to care for. However, their fear of deportation makes them live in the factory that they work for.

Environmental Issues

There can be numerous factors to the environment when manufacturers are producing their products. There can be a lot of chemical pesticides and or plasticizers that can be harmful to the worker as well as environment they are living in. The pollutants that the manufacturer is using has to go somewhere, and these are usually found in run-offs to rivers and the ocean.

These rivers in some areas of the world are used as main water supply for the people living in that area. Similarly, the harmful chemicals used in the products when you wash them goes through your pipes, into the water supply and consumed by the fish. Then in turn can be consumed by us.

Benefits of Ethical Jewelry

Some jewelry can be recycled; therefore, this can decrease the detriments to the environment that mining can incur. With the growth of technology gems can now be produced in a lab. The benefits of this are not only affordability and increased quality but knowing where these gems are coming from. The origins of some gems are not as straight forward as the retailers would like; however, lab-grown gems have a proper trail of production.

By purchasing ethical jewelry, you know you are not condoning to war zones or degrading human rights. The purchase of ethical jewelry will be guilt free knowing the money to purchase it did not fund situation of child labor or abuses.

Supply Chain Management

As mentioned before most of the metals and gems mined are from the earth, mainly from poorer countries. Manufacturers have a hard time having full visibility of all the elements of production. Their products from start to finish goes through a lot of different laborers, even from shipping to the actual retailer to ship to the actual consumer. By creating their own supply chain, a lot of these factors are eliminated.

The manufacturer is taking on the responsibility of knowing the product they are creating from beginning to end. They are not adding to human right violations or environmental deterioration. No Overconsumption.

Thousands of dollars are spent yearly on jewelry, which is a lot of money for usually wear once jewelry. Cheaper jewelry options fade and ware, usually turning fingers green, only after being worn a few times. These are usually found in a landfill after some time, and they are not biodegradable. These then release toxins into the air and water.

One reason people could overconsume and purchase without doing research is personalized gifts. In the following links you can find personalized necklaces , bracelets and rings that would be good for last minute gifts or just as a want for yourself.

Environmentally Friendly

Ethical jewelry is not only produced in a way that benefits the environment but uses materials that are eco-friendly as well. Ethical jewelry can use recycled materials which helps preserve natural resources and eliminates harmful mining. Some ethical jewelers have a humanitarian message to spread throughout the world.

Ethical jewelers will sometimes offer a buy back or trade in offer. They will recycle your jewelry when it has become too old to wear or when it is out of style, which happens quickly with the ever-changing fashion industry. This also helps reduce waste in landfills and eliminates toxins in the environment. Purchasing through an ethical jeweler will give you a sense of duty to supporting the sustainability of the environment.

How to Know if You’re Buying Ethical Jewelry

Borrow – Do not Buy

If you are unsure if you are purchasing ethical jewelry and only need something for a special occasion, look into borrowing.

Ask Questions

When it comes down to it the easiest thing to do is to ask questions at the retailer you are purchasing from.

Some questions to consider asking:

  • Where were the gems purchased?
  • Where are the materials from?
  • What finishes are used?
  • Are there any harmful toxins used?

Research the Retailer

There are a few things to consider when researching which brands to purchase that are ethical jewelry. Look for companies that use recycled metals with a buy-back offer as well as lab grown gems. Find companies that have a positive impact of revitalizing old mines or planting trees to increase air quality.

Check for Certification

There are a few things to consider when researching which brands to purchase that are ethical jewelry. Look for companies that use recycled metals with a buy-back offer as well as lab grown gems. Find companies that have a positive impact of revitalizing old mines or planting trees to increase air quality.

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