Ever since incidences such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse were brought to international media attention, our consumption of fashion has been put under the microscope and an increasing number of people are turning to brands with a strong ethical and sustainability profile.
The production of watches and jewellery, which often involves the mining of precious metals, also faces some difficult questions about how healthy and sustainable they are for both the planet and local communities. Luckily for jewellery lovers, there are plenty of brands with a strong moral and eco-friendly background that are honest about their supply chains, only use sustainable materials and ensure their employees are taken care of. These are the best ethical jewellery and watch brands to look out for.
Treaty Boutique: technology-free jewellery
Using an ancient soldering technique, Treaty Boutique has been able to ensure that all of its jewellery can be made without the use of modern technology at all, making it highly sustainable thanks to the low energy usage that goes into making it. Each of its celestial-like, wistful pieces are made by hand by mother and son partnership Maggie and Josh Round in Cornwall and many reflect the shapes found in the county’s natural landscape. Lead, Nickel and other harmful irritants are forgone in favour of .925 silver, which is burnished and battered to achieve the brand’s unique designs.
JORD: the original wood watches
Producing the original wood watches, JORD uses thirteen different kinds of wood to create its unique timepieces. From bamboo to ebony, each watch features a beautiful natural strap that’s been crafted from sustainable resources - mostly old pieces of furniture that would have otherwise been thrown away. Aside from this, the simple fact is that wood, given that it is a naturally occuring material, is much more efficient to shape and treat than other, man made materials, which reduces its carbon footprint by default. Offering several casual designs, these are an excellent option for anyone looking out for an everyday watch with a strong ethical background.
Emma Aitchinson Jewellery: fairtrade or recycled gold and silver
At Emma Aitchinson, sustainability is at the heart of everything the brand does, from sourcing all their materials from the UK (making the supply chain shorter) to ensuring they only use fairtrade or recycled gold and silver. The company is carbon neutral and only uses sustainably sourced packaging, making it one of the most eco friendly jewellery brands on this list. In fact, their goal is to be able to call themselves a 100 per cent sustainable business in the near future and to open an eco friendly studio. Since its launch in 2016, the brand has gone from strength to strength and its current collection, named Plastic Oceans, offers a commentary on the pollution problem facing our oceans right now. Aside from these credentials, the mid-priced pieces are just really beautiful - a mixture of indefinable shapes inspired by nature’s elements.
Girard-Perregaux: certified by the World Diamond Council
Girard-Perregaux is a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council and only produces 12,000 watches per year, making them a rare commodity and an ethically made one. Following a stringent code of environmental, ethical and social practices, the brand ensures that their supply chain is as transparent as possible and that the metals and gems used are fair-trade, traceable and sustainably sourced. Swiss-made, these fine timepieces eschew the use of conflict diamonds, ensuring that each one used has been certified by the World Diamond Council. Interestingly, the company has also installed bee hives at its headquarters in a bid to help preserve the endangered species.
Arabel Lebrusan: ethically made engagement and wedding rings
Those after ethically made engagement and wedding rings should turn to Arabel Lebrusan who offers both a collection and a bespoke atelier. Working with artisans across Spain, Lebrusan designs her own pieces and ensures each stone is sustainably and ethically sourced and oversees the creation to make sure harsh chemicals and damaging manufacturing processes are avoided. All the gold and gemstones used are 100 per cent recycled and fair-trade, ensuring the vulnerable communities mining and selling them are not exploited. One of the brand’s defining qualities is that it has committed to donating quarterly to The Water Project charity, whether it’s turned a profit or not. Find out more about the rings on offer if you plan to pop the question any time soon.
Words: Bianca Barratt