Friday, November 25, 2022

9 Recycled and Upcycled Luxury Jewelry Brands

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Match your jewelry to your sustainable wardrobe with these luxe jewelry brands committed to ethical and responsible materials, from recycled gold to lab-grown diamonds.

The global jewelry market is booming. It’s expected to reach nearly $267 billion by 2027. Each year, approximately 90 million carats of diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold are mined for jewelry around the world, according to the human rights non-profit Human Rights Watch.

But when it comes to jewelry, all that glitters is not gold. Industrial jewelry mining for the likes of diamonds and precious metals causes a number of environmental issues, including land erosion, pollution, and waste. The industry is also rife with human rights violations, routinely exploiting children and Indigenous people for labor.

The rise of recycled jewelry

Spurred by a growing awareness of the impacts of their shopping choices, consumers are increasingly prioritizing ethical, social, and environmental standards when it comes to their purchasing habits.

A 2021 survey by First Insight and Warton’s Baker Retailing Center found that 68 percent of U.S. shoppers are willing to spend more on sustainable products, up from 58 percent in 2019.

In an effort to meet the growing demand for ethical jewelry, brands are increasingly opting to use conflict-free stones, recycled metals, and other repurposed jewelry components.

Shop these sustainable luxe jewelry brands

Want to incorporate more sustainable jewelry pieces into your collection? Here are some of the best luxury brands to shop for recycled jewelry.

1. The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint has been making coins for the U.K. for more than a thousand years. It’s now released its first-ever luxury jewelry line, made from gold that’s sourced from upcycled electronic waste. It’s the first jewelry collection made entirely from e-waste-sourced gold, according to the company. The 886 Collection is named after the Royal Mint’s establishment date, and is designed by jewelry designer Dominic Jones.

“Each piece is crafted from solid gold or silver, using ancient techniques more commonly used in coin and medal-making,” the Royal Mint said in a statement. “Precious metals are struck, forged and pulled rather than cast, increasing the density of the metal and making it 30 percent stronger.”

2. Oscar Massin

Revived 19th-century luxury jewelry label Oscar Massin is bridging the old and the new. It’s taking inspiration from the legacy French jewelry maker who brought elegance to Europe before lying dormant for more than a century following the founder’s death. Now, Luximpact is bringing the name back to life but with a commitment to sustainability. The brand’s jewelry is made entirely from recycled and reclaimed gold and lab-grown diamonds.

“We’re confident there’s a new clientele for rediscovering brands from the past who are acting at the highest level in terms of responsibility,” Luximpact co-founder Frédéric de Narp said of the launch. Its earned support from Kate Hudson and Rachel Zoe Ventures and is sure to be a staple in your wardrobe, too.

3. Alkemie Jewelry

Alkemie Jewelry has it all: rings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, even cuffs and belts—all of which feature 100 percent reclaimed metals. Helmed by husband-wife duo Ashely Lowengrub and Dara Gerson, this Los Angeles-based, sustainable jewelry brand has perfected the art of turning materials that were bound for the landfill into wearable art. “Ashely and I created Alkemie Jewelry around 15 years ago. Our intention was to make less negative impact on our beloved mother earth,” Gerson explained on Instagram. “And the best way we found we could do that was to use already existing metals in abundance, melt them, and turn them into our designs.”

The company’s unique statement pieces—which are inspired by Mother Nature, vintage styles, and some good ol’ rock n’ roll—are all lead- and nickel-free and handmade in downtown Los Angeles. “I hope that when you wear them that you feel the love and the intention and the care for the planet that we infuse into our designs,” Gerson added.

4. Ecksand Jewelry

Ecksand considers itself a pioneer in sustainable jewelry. “Every year, mining companies dump 180 million tons of waste into our oceans,” the company says on its website. “Let’s change the tides.”

Everything the Montreal-based jeweler makes uses recycled gold. In addition to lab-grown diamonds, it also uses recycled diamonds “of the highest quality” as an eco-conscious option. “Since recycled diamonds are reclaimed and not mined or produced, they leave virtually zero environmental and social impact,” the company says. Whether buying what’s on offer or building a custom piece, Ecksand helps you wear your values in the most sustainable and luxurious way possible.

5. Catbird Jewelry

Brooklyn-based Catbird Jewelry carries jewelry featuring 95 percent recycled gold and recycled brilliant-cut diamonds. Shop the company’s best-seller, the Sweet Nothing Choker, which features recycled diamonds on a 100 percent recycled 14k solid gold chain. Or opt for sustainable bracelets, anklets, stud earrings, or charms. 

6. BaYou With Love

Founded in 2017 by actor, musician, and designer Nikki Reed, Bayou With Love carries ethical fashion, home, and beauty products, as well as accessories and jewelry made with sustainably created diamonds and recycled gold.

In 2018, Reed partnered with technology giant Dell to turn e-waste into luxurious pieces using gold recovered from computer motherboards. “Bayou With Love was created to bring greater awareness to the human impact on our planet and show that beautiful items can come from sustainably sourced and recycled materials,” explained Reed in a press release. “By recycling gold that was once considered ‘waste,’ Dell and I are working to create an environment where we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste.”

7. Bagatiba

Another Los Angeles-based jewelry brand, Bagatiba specializes in timeless and handcrafted sustainable pieces. The brand spearheads closed-loop upcycling and sustainability initiatives, which include managing energy consumption, using recycled metals, eliminating single-use plastics, and using recyclable and biodegradable packaging. 

“We care about transparency, authenticity, sustainability, and ethics,” Jessie Andrews, the company’s founder and CEO, explained. “In order for the world to change, we need to work together. Sustainability is imperative.”

8. Washed Ashore

Founded with a mission of protecting the ocean and its precious marine resources, this purpose-driven jewelry brand creates its dazzling creations using 100 percent recycled gold and silver sourced from second-hand jewelry. Opting for recycled metals helps the brand achieve 98 percent fewer carbon emissions than companies that use mined metals, the brand reports. Moreover, Washed Ashore uses recyclable packaging, is PVC-free, doesn’t use single-use plastics, and works to conserve water.

“We are working towards limiting the need for new raw materials to be sourced. The impact of mining is taxing on both the people and the environment. It requires high consumption of water, creates wastelands and pollution,” Larada Lamsam, the company’s founder, told Ethos. “Individuals who engage in mining are also vulnerable to exploitations in the developing countries where most mines are located. Further, we are also able to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions drastically since the process of sourcing, extracting, processing, and transporting raw or virgin materials emits a high amount of them.” 

9. Prada

Italian luxury label Prada has ventured into the world of fine jewelry, launching Eternal Gold, a collection of pieces all made from upcycled gold.

“Our aim is to create an emotional journey—particularly through the made-to-order pieces—one that can continue throughout the lives [of our clients] and be passed on to their children,” Timothy Iwata, Prada’s new jewelry director, told Harper’s Bazaar.

Like its commitment to recycled materials throughout its clothing, the brand is committed to making its jewelry the most sustainable option, too.

Can’t get enough ethical jewelry? For more sustainable jewelry brands to shop, click here.

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