Elevate your life, sustainably
Elevate your life, sustainably

6 Women-Owned Jewelry Brands Turning Upcycled Metals and Ethical Diamonds Into Sustainable Luxury

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sustainable jewelry
Image courtesy KBH Jewels

It’s been said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend—and no one believes that more than these woman-owned jewelry brands on a mission to ensure their diamonds and metals are ethical and sustainable.

Traditional gold and diamond mining creates toxic waste and destroys the land. Not only is this process harmful to the environment, but there are also frequent human violations including slave and child labor.

Recognizing the need for change in the industry that symbolizes love and sacred memories, a growing number of jewelry brands are changing the way jewelry is made, sourced, and even shipped. Leading luxury jewelry brand Bvlgari is taking a big step toward this ethos; pop star Frank Ocean also recently launched his own range of sustainable jewelry.

Using methods like reclaimed and recycled metals, and solar-powered, lab-grown diamond technology, these women-helmed brands are shifting the way we see and experience jewelry. 

Each of these brands has earned the prestigious Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark. The Butterfly Mark is the luxury industry’s leading certification for brands, suppliers, and retailers that are committed to a positive, sustainable relationship between nature and society. Empowering consumers to make purchase decisions that align with their values, the Butterfly Mark recognizes businesses that operate with international standards and practices that go beyond the normal industry standards in innovation, environmental efforts, and social impact.

1. Washed Ashore

Using 100% recycled gold and silver and post-consumer recycled gems and diamonds, Washed Ashore was founded around core values to defend the ocean and preserve marine resources. Using education and community, the brand is empowering sustainability as a lifestyle, not just a trend. 

Washed Ashore uses environmentally conscious shipping and packaging practices in everything from the custom cotton zipper pouches each beautiful piece comes in, to a partnership with CarbonFund to offset the negative environmental impacts of shipping and transportation of products. If you want to recycle your own jewelry, Washed Ashore even has a recycling program that helps further close the loop of jewelry production. 

Brand founder Larada Lamsam studied archaeology, ancient artifacts, and art history—so she intimately understands design, metalsmithing, and gemology, and holds great respect for the origin of raw materials. The name Washed Ashore is a nod to the enigmatic origin of the treasures washed ashore from the sea. Understanding that throughout history, jewelry has symbolically held blessings or deep significance in many cultures, Lamsam takes extreme care and pride in the jewelry her company makes.

2. Daniella Draper

Made in the UK, Daniella Draper makes luxury jewelry from recycled gold and silver, antique gemstones, and suppliers aligned with the World Jewellery Confederation’s Responsible Sourcing Policy. While the designer brand ships globally, the recycled gold and silver are also sourced in England making further lessening the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. 

Daniella Draper’s jewelry are future heirloom pieces designed to stand the test of time. The brand incorporates the UN Sustainable Development Goals into its overall strategy focusing on responsible production, responsible consumption and climate action. A family-run business, Daniella Draper bans single use plastics and practices recycling in the offices and facilities, and are working to incorporate no single-use plastics in their supply chain. 

The company further makes efforts to lessen its carbon footprint through packaging materials and work with Ecologi, a company that helps businesses offset their atmospheric CO2 levels through reforestation efforts. Through Ecologi, Daniella Draper has planted more than 7,900 trees to offset carbon footprint and has already reduced more than 500 tons of carbon. The brand also has committed to using biodegradable packaging.

3. Dinny Hall

Dinny Hall jewelry is made with longevity in mind. Each piece is crafted using 100% recycled 10K, 14K and 18K gold and solid sterling silver. Using responsible sourcing practices, each gemstone is handpicked and nearly all of them can be traced to a specific country of origin. All diamonds the brand uses are Kimberley Process certified and where possible are sourced using natural erosion instead of mining. 

The brand was awarded the Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark in 2020 in recognition of excellence in eco-conscious design and manufacturing. The brand’s key supplier is 80% – 100% carbon-emission free and uses recycling, rainwater filtering and solar power.

With robust collections incorporating rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings, Dinny Hall pieces make excellent gifts meant to stay in families for generations. If you’re looking for pieces that are significant to your family and others, the Suffragette collection was launched in support of Women’s Aid. Through Dinny Hall’s efforts, a live-chat system has been created as a tool which women can safely and discreetly communicate and ask for help. 

4. JEM

JEM stands for Jewelry Ethically Minded and that’s exactly what the mission is for this Paris-based brand. Hopping into launch a movement to create jewels in a spirit of goodwill and ethical progress, JEM is the first French jeweler to be engaged in the Fairmined Gold industry. This ensures that the brand practices and engages in ethical extraction of gold from mines that have committed to processes of eco-responsibility. The Fairmined Gold program was created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining and aims to implement mining facilities that apply rigorous ecological, social, and humane standards. There are only nine mines that have obtained this status and label. Each mine and jeweler including JEM is audited every year to retain the label. 

JEM also uses only lab-grown diamonds, another way to respect both people and nature. In partnership with Diamond Foundry, a pioneer company in lab-grown diamonds, JEM uses only carefully selected stones—the most beautiful and rarest in color, purity, and size. Invested in by Leonardo DiCaprio, San Francisco-based Diamond Foundry uses solar energy and carbon neutrality to reach its zero ecological footprint goal. 

Founder and CEO Dorothée Contour created the brand with the intent to invent a jeweler’s craft that would merge ethical awareness to the beauty and simplicity of her jewelry pieces.

5. KBH Jewels

KBH Jewels is a socially conscious jewelry brand from founder Kimberly Berry Haisch. The brand makes jewelry pieces from 100% reclaimed and recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds. Jewelry is symbolic of love and tradition all over the world and KBH Jewels believes that love and tradition should also apply to the manner in which each piece is made and how it affects the world.

Based in NYC, everything that the brand produces, supplies, and ships is sourced from ethical, sustainable, and reclaimed methods, even the packaging. Each jewelry bag is made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles, and can be recycled again. The jewelry pouches are reusable and made from 100% organic cotton. Partnering with California-based company Earthpack which supplies fashionable bags and boxes to eco-conscious retailers, the boxes used are made in the USA and from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. The padded mailers the brand uses are made with 25% post-consumer waste and are completely recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. 

Proceeds for each piece purchased from the brand’s KBH x GAB collection support Pure Earth.

6. Monica Vinader

Spanish native Monica Vinader studied Fine Arts where she was introduced to and fell in love with jewelry making. Birthed from her love of art, architecture, travel, and accessible luxury, Vinader launched her jewelry line mindful of conscious creation. 

The brand uses 100% recycled silver for its designs, an initiative started in April 2020 to make reductions in CO2 emissions. All diamonds are ethically sourced adhering to the Kimberley Process.

The brand also recently began using boxes and bags that are 100% recyclable and has committed to removing all single-use plastics from its supply chain in 2021. In the offices, the brand has made the switch to renewable energy and even perform all operations in a 16th-century historic building, which the company preserved. 

With a strong emphasis on giving back to communities, Monica Vinader partnered with Women for Women International to help women in conflicted areas. Both the brand and owner work closely with The Jagriti Foundation providing free education to children in Jaipur, India.

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