Sustainable Living: Jewelry Edition

by Elysian Magazine
sustainable living

With sustainable living becoming more popular, and important, it’s time we look at the women-owned jewelry brands that are changing the face (and pace) of fashion.

Sustainable Living Through Jewelry

The jewelry industry is massive, it generates around $300 billion in revenue each year. This also means that industry generates a great deal of pollution each year. In order to mine and extract just one carat of diamond, it takes 250 tons of Earth, 120 gallons of water, and 143 pounds of carbon dioxide. Annually, jewelry companies mine approximately 90 million carats of diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold. So the next time you go to buy a new ring or necklace, check out one of the options on this list – you’ll be saving the planet and will look cute while doing it!

Melissa Joy Manning

Melissa Joy Manning and her namesake jewelry brand are one of the more well-known brands in the sustainable jewelry industry. She is considered a pioneer as the founding co-chair of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Sustainability Committee and has created an eco-friendly empire through her brand.

The company’s jewelry is all handcrafted in their California Green certified studio, which implements a zero-waste policy and was recently certified as a Water Smart business, making sustainable living a breeze for consumers. The pieces are made entirely from recycled materials and responsibly sourced diamonds, and each shipment of jewelry is carbon offset, meaning carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to compensate. Melissa Joy Manning and her brand have been championing sustainability for over 10 years now, her pieces are a classic option that you can count on to make a difference.

Poppy Finch

Poppy Finch is a jewelry brand known for its delicate pearls and classy designs. Their jewelry is handmade using ethically sourced gems and recycled gold, which is refined back to full quality and purity. Using only 14K and 18K gold, the brand makes high quality pieces without draining natural resources. Poppy Finch is a great place to start trying your hand at sustainable living.

Their jewelry uses both freshwater and saltwater pearls, sourced exclusively from reliable pearl farms. These pearls are then handpicked by the Vancouver-based company so that each piece of jewelry is a perfect match for the customer. And of course, all of Poppy Finch’s diamonds comply with the Kimberly Process to ensure they are conflict-free. This means, according to the United Nations, that the sale of these diamonds does not finance rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.



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Known for their engagement rings and beautiful jewels, MiaDonna is a leader in the industry of lab-created diamonds – a more sustainable and ethical option for gemstones. MiaDonna has set an even higher standard for their diamonds than just conflict-free: the company rejects any jewel that is “unsustainable, thereby contributing to a negative impact on the environment, society and/or economy.” The brand’s website provides information about diamond mining and the horrible conditions that often accompany it, along with an explanation of why “conflict diamond,” as defined by the Kimberley Process, is not sufficient for their company.

Additionally, the company has their own charity called The Greener Diamond that works to restore communities affected by diamond mining. Every time you purchase a piece of jewelry from MiaDonna, you are directly repairing the negative impacts of the jewelry industry and working to create a better environmental future for our world. Now that’s what I call sustainable living!



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Vrai is another leader in the jewelry industry who grows their diamonds instead of mining or creating them. Their jewels are all grown in the United States and are the only diamonds in the world produced with no carbon footprint. Vrai is an incredibly unique brand because they control every element of their supply chain. This means they don’t use middlemen and can create an environmentally safe production process from start to finish.

Choosing a grown diamond over a mined one saves a significant amount of resources and materials such as water or carbon dioxide. Deciding where you get your gems is an important step on the path to sustainable living. If you purchase from Vrai, you’re not only adding a beautiful, handcrafted product to your collection, but also supporting a one-of-a-kind company on their quest to save the world.

Washed Ashore


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Washed Ashore is a jewelry brand that was founded on the core value of preserving the ocean and its marine resources. Their products are manufactured with recyclable gold and silver in an attempt to limit raw material is being production. This is significant because oftentimes, the production of raw materials is not only harmful to the environment, but harmful to the communities where this mining occurs as well.

The pearls used in Washed Ashore’s jewelry are upcycled as a by-product of either the food or pearl industry (depending on whether they are abalone shells or Keshi pearls). The brand’s diamonds are recycled post-consumer stones from vintage pieces. Washed Ashore also partners with as a leading carbon free business in the fight against global warming. The brand’s stunning pieces reflect the beauty of the ocean and are a refreshing addition to any jewelry collection.



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This UK based brand creates timeless pieces using recycled metals that are ensured to last. The jewelry is protected with a safe, non-toxic pickling powder to prevent oxidation and make sure they endure. Designer and founder Marie B. uses this process as a means to move away from jewelry overconsumption and limit waste.

Each piece is handmade and packaged in eco-friendly wrapping – either a reusable cotton pouch or a recycled box. But the brand has taken their sustainability efforts a step further: with each purchase, the company will plant one tree. For a classic look that is sustainable-living friendly and helps the environment flourish, look no further than Nouare.


Akola is a jewelry brand whose products are made in Uganda using sustainable materials and resources like wild plants and recycled glass. The company hires local women with the intention of uplifting them through fair working wages and conditions. In fact, the brand’s name “Akola” translates to “she works” in the region’s dialect.

Their beautiful jewelry is manufactured using natural and renewable materials that fuel the local economy. The five main materials listed on their website are horn, raffia (a palm tree native to Africa), sisal, glass, and bone. When you buy from Akola, not only are you consuming environmentally-friendly materials, but you are also helping to support and empower an inspiring community of women.



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The unique jewelry produced by MACHETE in Atlanta, Georgia is a double whammy: not only is their signature acetate look super popular right now, their sustainable approach makes the brand easy and fun to support. MACHETE is known for its unique tortoise shell earrings and marble designs; they have also been featured in notable publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle.

MACHETE jewelry is made of cellulose acetate and bio-acetate, two natural, renewable materials that are non-petroleum based. Any metal the company uses is either recycled brass or ethically-sourced silver and gold and all of their packaging is eco-friendly. MACHETE also gives a portion of its profits to a number of organizations including Every Mother Counts, Human Rights First, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Women’s March; apurchase from MACHETE supports more than just a sustainable business model.

Written by Claire Kuwana

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