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Once upon a time we were told that diamonds are a girls’ best friend.
But after we realised that those diamonds actually helped fuel conflict in the developing world (thank you for the wake-up call, Leo DiCaprio in 2006’s Blood Diamonds), we promptly ditched them and began our search for ‘friends’ who were a little more conscious.
Ethical jewellery is defined as jewellery that has no negative impact on the people who make it, or the environment it’s produced in.
This encompasses everything from the use of synthetic diamonds to using materials that can be traced back to their source to ensure the item is produced in an ethical way.
It may sound like a lot to get your head around when shopping for new gems, but there are some seriously cool, eco-friendly jewellery brands who have flourished, making it easier than ever to shop for conscientious bling.
And flourish they have: here are some of the best in the planet-friendly bling biz.
Monarc(Monarc) Prices: From £16 Eco-credentials: London-based brand Monarc was founded in 2016 by New Zealand-born model and ex-Gucci ambassador, Ella Drake, following a lucrative career in modelling. After shooting for Vogue Gioiello, Vogue’s jewellery magazine, Drake felt so inspired by the fine jewellery she’d been styled with that she returned to school to study at the prestigious Gemological Institute of America in Florence, inspiring the birth of Monarc. Over 90 per cent of the precious metals used to create Monarc’s jewellery are produced using recycled waste, and the brand will only collaborate with suppliers who share the same ethics as them. Monarc’s two bridal and engagement ring collections use diamonds sourced from Diamond Foundry, which is the world’s first certified carbon neutral diamond producer, and as if this wasn’t enough, their packaging is also made using recycled wood. www.monarcjewellery.com Shahla Karimi (Shahla Karimi Jewellery) Prices: From £77 Eco-credentials: Hardly a stranger to luxury, Shahla Karimi started her career working in product strategy and merchandising, before a more radical switch to Director of Merchandising for Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Not long after however, she realised her passion for sustainable jewellery and yearned to design her own pieces which she knew were conflict-free and made using recycled materials.
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So that’s exactly what she did, and by 2015 her New York-based eponymous brand was born, which hand-crafts all of its piece in its Brooklyn studio using solely recycled materials. Any diamonds used in its Deco Capsule Bridal collection are sourced from Diamond Foundry, which creates stones using solar technology in San Francisco, but the rest of the stones across the brand are always conflict-free, something Karimi feels very strongly about. www.shahlakarimi.com Emma Aitchison (Emma Aitchison) Prices: From £30 Eco-credentials: After spending the years following her contemporary jewellery design degree working for various jewellery and accessory houses, London-born-and-bred Aitchison started her own brand in 2016, which donates one per cent of its profits to environmental charity 1% For The Planet. Aitchison’s brand only uses antique or vintage stones which are already in circulation for their pieces and where possible, the London-based brand will opt to use bicycle couriers. When deliveries are just a little bit further afield, she collaborates with carbon neutral shipping companies. www.emmaaitchison.com Pippa Small (Pippa Small ) Prices: From £50 Eco-credentials: Meghan Markle-approved jeweller, Pippa Small, received an MBE in 2013 for her services to ethical jewellery after she pioneered training young craftsmen and women in Kabul for her range in association with the NGO Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which focusses on the enhancement of the Afghan craft industry.
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Small also regularly travels to places such as Burma and Bolivia to seek out craftspeople who have been marginalised by conflict, disease and production outsourcing, as her core belief is that teaching skills is more sustainable than sending aid. www.pippasmall.com Tada & Toy (Tada & Joy) Prices: From £50 Eco-credentials: Very much a brand with a conscience, Tada & Toy not only work alongside local artisans in Jaipur, India to design and create their designs using sustainably sourced materials, they also invest a proportion of their profits into animal conservation, an issue very close to its founders, Tansy and Victoria's hearts. Five per cent of all of the brand's profits and 25 per cent from the sales of their charity collection are donated to The Aspinall Foundation, a charity working to reintroduce wild animals into their natural habitats after a period in captivity. www.tadaandtoy.com More about: | Jewellery | sustainable brands | Eco-friendly