I will be honest with you; my jewellery collection is a mixed bag. In amongst it all are treasured vintage pieces from my grandmothers, on-trend high street jewellery, beautiful gold and silver pieces with gemstones from my family and friends, bracelets and necklaces with symbols of calm & strength, cool items from street markets in NYC and London, pieces that were handmade by my friend, and my most treasured item: my bespoke engagement ring, the centrepiece of which is the diamond from my mother-in-law’s ring.
While very different in terms of style, they all fit my personality and individual look, showing a different side of me depending on the day and mood.
Apart from the recycled stone in my engagement ring and the inherited jewellery, none of them are particularly sustainable. This is in part because it is only recently that I have become aware of the issues in the jewellery industry and also because the choice of ethical & eco-friendly jewellery has been fairly limited. Until now.
With our main focus at VILDNIS being clothing, we are nonetheless interested in exploring ways that can make the world a better place, and support our edgy and sassy look at the same time.
It is amazing what a different pair of shoes or some interesting jewellery can do to an outfit - even if it is 'just' your basic white tee and jeans. Choose chunky silver pieces with black/grey stones for a rock chic vibe; luxury gold for a chic look; symbolic, beaded, turquoises or silver with gemstones for a boho feel; or sleek, clean silver and gold pieces for a minimalistic style. Through styling with different jewellery, we can add longevity to the wearing of our clothes and vice versa.
As with the clothing industry, the jewellery industry has its own challenges with regards to sustainability, especially when it comes to the working conditions of the miners and people producing the jewellery, and also in terms of the materials used.
Chances are that if you are reading this, you are interested in making more sustainable choices in your life. With ethical and eco-friendly jewellery brands being on the rise, this is an area where you can now make a visible impact without having to compromise on your style.
By way of inspiration, we have picked 7 cool ethical and eco-friendly jewellery brands that resonate with us at VILDNIS.
1. RAW COPENHAGEN
RAW Copenhagen is a cool minimalist Scandi brand with a boho vibe. It is founded by a Danish woman with a background in Human Rights who feels very strongly about improving the treatment of workers in the industry. Consequentially, RAW Copenhagen sources all its gemstones ethically and donates 10% of its annual profits to charities promoting fair trade and better working conditions for miners. Additionally, it cares about the environment, using either eco silvers (recycled) or silver sourced on fair trade principles from artisan silversmiths; as well as using recycled paper for packaging.
Our favourite style is the ‘Labradorite Wrap’ made from recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced labradorite gemstones; a versatile piece that can be used as both a necklace and a wrap bracelet; increasing your styling options.
2. DUTCH BASICS
Dutch Basics is a timeless and minimalistic brand offering jewellery and other accessories created with care for people and the environment. The creations are ethically produced in Portugal and the Netherlands using sustainable materials such as silver, locally produced porcelain, recycled leathers and organic cotton canvas (the latter for bags).
The ‘gold plated double point ear cuff’, shown here, is sublime. We are also drawn to the V-shaped necklaces bearing a resemblance to the VILDNIS logo and of course our love of a flattering V-neck.
A/BARENESS is a wearable and timeless slow-fashion jewellery brand with a clean and minimalistic style. Its products are designed in Norway and ethically made in Nepal using eco-friendly materials such as brass, copper, white metal, silver, quartz and semi-precious gemstones.
Our favourite item is the Mukti stack ring; a versatile piece in brass and milky grey moonstone consisting of three rings that can be worn either separately or as a stunning ensemble.
4. MAYVEDA VINTAGE JEWELLERY
Mayveda is a London-based vintage jewellery brand. It started as a result of a box of jewellery, passed down through 5 generations, and is founded on a deep passion for unique and delicate treasures that last for hundreds of years and can be handed down to the next generation or recycled as vintage jewellery. Items with a story.
As every piece is unique and each is equally stylish, it is difficult to promote just one of them. We love their vintage gold lockets and the thoughts of the secrets they keep.
Mosami combines stylish aesthetics with symbolic power in pieces of jewellery that are mindfully sourced from small artisan businesses caring about their employees. Using silver that is either recycled (eco-friendly) or Fairtrade (ethical); and cardboard packaging made from FSH certified sustainable sources, Mosami demonstrates it also cares greatly for the environment.
We love the ‘Words To Live By Fairtrade cuff’ pictured, which can be engraved with either the quote: "Do small things with great love" (Mother Theresa) or "Be the change you want to see" (Mahatma Ghandi). Both are inspirational and, personally speaking,the latter is also a reminder of our mission to set a new sustainable norm in the fashion industry.
Mosami is co-hosting the FairLuxury Fair, showcasing and selling responsibly sourced jewellery in London from the 18th September – 27th October 2017. Entrance is free. For more information click this link.
6. TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit social enterprise helping small artisan shops/groups in developing countries market their products. It is ethical and fairtrade, and takes great pride in building and nurturing long term partnerships with the artisan makers, allowing them to raise their living standards to a reasonable level. Although the focus is on the ethical and social side, Ten Thousand Villages encourages the use of eco-friendly materials such as brass or recycled materials.
Our favourite piece is the ‘Guiding Star necklace’ made in Cambodia from recycled brass from bomb casings. "Wear the North Star and never lose your way", as it says in the product description, is our kind of motto!
7. CATHERINE ZORAIDA
Finally, if you want to splash out on a pièce de résistance to bring you long lasting happiness (or at least that is what it would bring us), the exciting and playful pieces from Catherine Zoraida are a guaranteed success. While many of the creations take inspiration from nature, all are handcrafted in England using Fairtrade materials.
We will be saving up for the ‘Gold Thistle Ring’ as illustrated here. A big statement piece, it is not for the fainthearted and will definitely make you stand out from the crowd in all its uniqueness.
None of the brands mentioned in this article have in any way sponsored VILDNIS or otherwise entered into a commercial relationship with us. We picked them purely because we love their aesthetics and ethos. There are of course many more ethical and eco-friendly jewellery brands on the market, suiting many different kinds of style, and we wish you a fruitful search the next time you are looking for something to style your outfits with- or that special thoughtful present for a friend. Although it sounds like a cliché, we all really CAN change the world, one piece of clothes or one item of jewellery at a time!
Main Caption: The making of the silver Peace pendant from A/BARENESS’ new collection launching in September 2017.