What Is Sustainable Jewelry? (+ The Truth Behind It)

By now, you’ve likely heard of the negative environmental impact the mined diamond market has on the world. Now, it’s more important than ever to make wise purchasing decisions. That starts with the daily accessories you wear. 

Sustainable and ethical jewelry offers transparent and responsible sourcing practices in the jewelry supply chain and uses sustainable materials like metal and lab grown gemstones. This includes ethical diamonds, such as lab created diamonds, recycled materials and recycled precious metals. 

If you’re looking for the best sustainable jewelry on the market, you’ve come to the right place. At 12FIFTEEN, our mission is to create jewelry that’s both stunning and sustainable. Read on to learn everything you need to know about sustainable jewelry. 

What Is Sustainable Jewelry?

Sustainable jewelry is produced in a way that contributes to achieving the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the area where the product’s materials were sourced. This is exactly why it’s becoming one of the most popular wedding themes for fall weddings

In short, this means sustainable jewelry offers responsible sourcing practices throughout the jewelry supply chain. This includes everything from the sourcing of materials to jewelry production and everything in between. 

While seemingly simple, it can sometimes be difficult to track the entire product of a piece of jewelry. This, unfortunately, leads to false claims and greenwashing. This is why more and more consumers are choosing lab grown diamonds and gemstones, which can be more easily traced back to sustainable practices. 

Types of Sustainable Jewelry

When it comes to sustainable jewelry, there are a few different types to consider. Sustainable jewelry can be crafted to be conflict-free, environmentally superior, and use recycled materials for the majority or all of its components. Understand the main types of sustainable jewelry to get a better understanding of what’s right for you. 

Conflict-Free Jewelry

Conflict-free jewelry means that it’s not associated with the negative impacts of diamond mining and metal sourcing. Mining can severely impact the environment, including air pollution, water waste, and damaged ecosystems. Choosing lab grown diamonds means you can rest easy knowing your diamond was sourced ethically. 

Environmentally Friendly Jewelry

Environmentally friendly jewelry means that it hasn’t destroyed environmental ecosystems and that it’s been created with minimal fossil fuels, fewer carbon emissions, and safe labor practices. If you want to take it one step further, you can opt for carbon neutral practices to reduce your footprint even more. 

Recycled Jewelry

Recycled jewelry is a rule of thumb for superior jewelry focused on sustainability. Recycled jewelry contains recycled precious metals and materials that help reduce your carbon footprint. For example, one of the fun facts about gold jewelry is that it is commonly recycled as it’s incredibly malleable and can be remelted without causing structural damage. At 12FIFTEEN, we’re committed to reducing the impact of mining on the planet, and that’s why we offer engagement rings and fine jewelry made with certified recycled precious metals. 

The Benefits of Sustainable Jewelry

Choosing sustainable jewelry is better in every way. Not only does it help the planet and people, but because it often uses recycled materials, it’s also more cost-effective. When looking at all of the benefits that come with buying sustainable jewelry, the choice to go green is an easy one. 

  • Better for the world: Sustainable jewelry doesn’t contribute to the blood diamond trade or environmental destruction. This saves local habitats and ecosystems, not to mention it keeps the local water supply clean. For many, sustainable practices are a cornerstone of smart shopping, personal ethics, and contributing to a future we can all be proud of.
  • Better for workers: Sustainable jewelry means that workers are treated fairly and aren’t forced to work long hours in poor working conditions. It also means there isn’t child labor being utilized. Simply put, when you choose lab diamonds, you can be sure that the lab practices are ethical. 
  • Better for your wallet: Since sustainable jewelry is commonly crafted with recycled materials, it’s often much more affordable. Plus, recycled materials cannot be told apart from original metals, making the switch undetectable. The same stunning look with recycled materials means more bang for your buck. 

With these benefits and more, sustainable jewelry is a no-brainer. The hard part is being sure that your jewelry purchase is actually sustainable and that you don’t fall for greenwashing. 

Sustainable Jewelry Shopping Tips

If you’re sold on the idea of sustainable jewelry—and let’s be real, who isn’t—it’s time to look for a trusted jeweler that is true to their word. Unfortunately, many brands struggle to trace their own products or purposely exaggerate their claims to compete with the eco-friendly jewelry market. This makes it so important to know what to look out for when shopping and choosing a truly sustainable jewelry brand. 

Here are some quick shopping tips to consider to find stunning and 100% sustainable jewelry pieces. 

Look for Traceability

A jeweler who is serious about their sustainability claims will be transparent about where their materials come from. No matter if you’re shopping online or in-store, keep an eye out for information about where their diamonds and gemstones came from. 

If a jeweler offers mined diamonds, be sure to dig deep to ensure sustainable conditions. Many mined diamond retailers claim to be eco-friendly due to the Kimberly Process. The Kimberly Process was put in place to stop the trade of “conflict diamonds” and to ensure that diamond purchases do not finance violence by rebel movements. Unfortunately, these claims cannot truly be validated and the only way to be sure your diamond is clean is to purchase a man made diamond.

Opt for lab created diamonds

The only way you can be 100% sure your diamond isn’t a blood diamond is to choose lab diamonds. Lab diamonds can be traced directly to the source, ensuring there aren’t poor working conditions or environmental devastation. But lab diamonds offer a variety of benefits beyond sustainability. Like earth-mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are made of carbon and are exactly the same optically, chemically, and physically. 

But while natural diamonds pulled from the earth are created over millions of years under intense heat and pressure, man made diamonds are grown fairly quickly in a lab from a single carbon seed. Lab diamonds are also up to 75% less than their mined counterparts, making them in every way superior to mined diamonds. 

Choose Jewelry Crafted in the USA

Beyond the stone you choose, many jewelers purchase their materials overseas. While this does reduce the cost of the jewelry, it makes it difficult to trace effectively. This means that in order to be sure the jewelry you’re buying is sustainable, you should choose USA-crafted accessories. 

Choosing a jeweler that manufacturers in the USA will ensure that they can correctly trace the materials used and control lab practices. 

The 12FIFTEEN Difference

We love diamonds. We just know too much about the business of diamond mining and diamond jewelry marketing to sell even one mined diamond. Never have, never will. We believe in looking forward. Forward to love. Forward to a better planet. 12FIFTEEN lab diamonds are ethically and environmentally pure.

If you’re sold on the idea of sustainable jewelry, we can help you select the perfect piece that showcases your compassionate style. Need help knowing how to figure out your ring size? We can help with that too! From fine jewelry to diamond engagement rings and wedding bands, shop our collections to find the perfect piece of sustainable jewelry for you or your loved one. 

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