Here’s Why You Should Shop Recycled & Fair Trade Jewelry
Heirloom. It’s a word that resonates and has deep meaning. And yet few of us include heirlooms in our day-to-day jewelry collections. Why is that?
For as long as I can remember, there has been a craze about collecting heaps of on-trend accessories. And of course, what’s on-trend changes from season to season. This means many people, especially younger women, have a stockpile of junky jewelry that they bought for a single look which inevitably just ends up in the garbage.
If that resonates with you and you’d like to make a change, here’s my honest advice: Instead of hunting for the cheapest version of whatever’s currently on-trend, focus on long-lasting items that will elevate your look and become a lifelong heirloom.
So are you ready to shift your buying habits? The first place to look is vintage shops, the ones that stock high quality jewelry. But if you’re set on buying new, have you considered purchasing from a fair trade or environmentally conscious company? Here what to consider when you’re shopping:
This look: Earrings by ZAG Bijoux Paris; recycled gold chunky chain necklace by Pilgrim, pearl charm by FTJCo x Parliament, gold sun charm from the Palace of Versailles, vintage Louis Vuitton cube bracelet, vintage hand cuff chain bracelet.
Recycled Gold & Metals are a Timeless Material for Jewelry
One of the benefits of shopping from fair trade and environmentally conscious jewelry companies is that they often use recycled gold, silver, and other metals in their products. (Check out my recommendations below!)
If you’re looking for a heirloom piece, choose recycled gold. This means that the metal has been extracted from old jewelry, electronics, or other sources, rather than from newly mined gold. Using recycled materials bypasses the environmental impact of gold mining, which is a highly destructive process. As I mentioned in my Vegan Wedding Diaries series, we went with Montreal-based Ecksand for our engagement and wedding bands.
For a budget friendly option, check out jewelry companies that work with recycled metals and gold or silver plating. I am particularly sensitive to cheaper metals and have a nickel allergy. The brand Pilgrim is a recent discovery for me, and I could not recommend them more! Any of the recycled gold pieces that I’ve purchased from Pilgrim have a) performed better than many cheaper “gold plated” pieces I’ve tried, b) not irritated my sensitive skin in any way, and c) been comfortable enough for me to wear for months on end.
PS: Recycled metal isn’t always finished with yellow gold. You can find silver and rose gold plated too.
Benefits of Fair Trade Jewels and Gold
When you purchase jewelry from a fair trade company, like Toronto-based FTJCo, you can be confident that you are supporting ethical manufacturing practices. Fair trade certification ensures that workers are paid fair wages, work in safe conditions, and are not exploited. In addition, fair trade companies often have a commitment to environmental sustainability, using materials and processes that minimize harm to the planet.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Mined Diamonds
Another consideration when purchasing jewelry is the type of diamond used. Lab grown diamonds are skyrocketing in popularity. This is due to their ethical, environmental, and price advantages.
The growing knowledge of how destructive traditional diamond mining is has certainly put a tarnish on the once prized gem. But unlike mined diamonds, lab grown diamonds do not contribute to human rights abuses or environmental destruction.
Recently I was invited to the FTJCo x Parliament launch party and had a chance to see their design lab and learn about their in-house process. One of the designers shared that they often see couples come in with their mind set on a traditional mined diamond. However, they soon change their minds when they see what their budget can buy with the lab grown alternative. They are far more affordable! FTJCo was one of the first in Canada to provide lab grown diamonds for engagement rings. And the technology behind them is constantly improving (which only further drives their prices down.)
Choosing Local Jewelry Artisans
When it comes to choosing a jeweler, many people prefer to support local artisans rather than large commercial companies. Local artisans often have a deep connection to their craft and take pride in creating unique and high-quality pieces. Plus, purchasing from a local artisan can help support the local economy and promote sustainable business practices.
When to Choose Fair Trade and Environmentally Conscious Jewelry
When deciding whether to purchase from a fair trade or environmentally conscious jewelry company, consider your values and priorities. If you are concerned about the environmental impact of mining, want to support ethical labor practices, or just prefer to invest in higher quality pieces that will last a life time, then purchasing from a conscious brand is the way to go. Fair trade and recycled jewelry come in all types of styles, from eclectic to modern. And dependant on what you’re seeking, there are various price points too. Take a look at some of my recommendations below.
Brands To Shop From
From ethical labor practices to environmental sustainability, several companies are leading the way in creating a more responsible and sustainable jewelry industry. Here are some that I personally love: