Sustainable Jewelry

Sustainable Jewelry Brand - Cabine

When it comes to sustainable shopping, there’s a lot to learn. While I’m cutting back on buying new and learning about sustainable denim companies, the topic of sustainable jewelry has become of interest lately – because I knew so little about it.

Since becoming a mother 3.5 years ago and being stuck at home for so long, a few things have happened.

First, I’m wearing less jewelry. I still wear jewelry everyday, but it’s often the same pieces again and again – the ones that look great and won’t get in the way of any part of my day to day. You can see many of my older, everyday jewelry pieces here.

Second, I’m eyeing fewer pieces. While I love good accessories (it’s a great way to keep your closet size in check), I also want to buy better and buy less.

So it became time to start thinking about what sustainable jewelry really meant!

{Necklace and Earrings by Cabine – Local, Sustainable Jewelry Designer}

Sustainable Jewelry Brand - Cabine

Sustainable Jewelry

So as it turns out, there are a few components to making a sustainable piece of jewelry – broken down below – but there are some basics I already had under control.

Just as I say with sustainable fashion and clothes, besides the materials and the process of production is buying items that will be used a lot and worn for a good, long time! The same holds true with your accessories.

What is Sustainable Jewelry?

I’ve broken this down into 4 easy factors of what is sustainable jewelry. Obviously this is a simplified discussion, but I think it’ll get us all started nicely.

The four categories are materials and packaging, making process, longevity & design, and business location and size.

While each of these is important and hitting them all is ideal, remember that even just checking 1 or 2 off the checklist for an item is a great start.

Sustainable Jewelry Brand - Cabine

1. Materials & Packaging

This is the one category that will take the most diligence on your part, but most companies should be transparent about these things if they’re trying to be eco-friendly!

As with any item, using something recycled or reclaimed is great. Whether it’s the gemstone, metal, or another material (I’ve seen some fun stuff using upcycled rubber) -diminishing the demand for new materials is always lovely.

For example, Cabine, a Sacramento Jewelry Designer, whose earrings and necklace I’m wearing here, uses all reclaimed sterling silver – silver that’s already been recycled! She also saves all her scraps to recycle as well, cutting drastically back on waste.

You can see the silver here in the hand-wrapped Herkimer Diamond earrings and the half moon layering necklace. It also makes up the core of her gold-fill pieces, making them stronger than solid gold.

One of the fabulous things about sterling silver is that it’s infinitely recyclable and usable without losing quality!

If you’re buying pieces with new materials, try to find out if they’ve been ethically sourced. We’ve heard the nightmare stories of people working in terrible conditions to get gemstones. If you’re unsure, you can always ask a brand where their stones are from and if they’re focused on ensuring fair working conditions all along the chain of laborers.

And then it’s always good to take note of packaging. Is it wrapped in plastic that can’t be reused or recycled?

2. Making Process – Is it Handmade?

As someone who only ever beaded a few necklaces when she was in elementary school, I know next to nothing about making jewelry.

Jewelers, however, are proud of their craft and will likely boast if they made it themselves.

Handmade is often infinitely better than machine-made – in quality and in terms of sustainability. While machine obviously isn’t terrible, if something is handmade, that’s always a good option!

3. Longevity & Design

So this is my big one. If a piece of jewelry is made with sustainable materials but isn’t designed to last, it isn’t sustainable to me.

One of the biggest problems to living sustainably is that so many things aren’t made to last, so when it’s short lifespan ends, you’re forced to buy new (again and again).

All jewelry – dainty and statement pieces – need to be able to stand up to use and wear again and again. Wedding and engagement rings shouldn’t be the only things designed to last a lifetime.

And while I might be a little too sentimental about this topic, I genuinely believe that jewelry becomes part of your identity. More than clothing, jewelry is worn frequently and for great periods of time.

People near me know that I generally wear stud earrings; they can recognize my X-ring that I’ve had for over 5 years and wear constantly; and they know my recycled gold necklace. These pieces are me and help to define my style!

4. Business Size & Location

Finally, and this one is true for every type of purchase. Is the jewelry coming from a local, small, or minority-owned business? If yes to any one of those, then that’s a more sustainable decision!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this gorgeous necklace?

Herkimer Diamonds - Sustainable Jewelry Brand - Cabine

What are Herkimer Diamonds?

The earrings above are reminiscent of diamond studs, but they’re actually made form Herkimer diamonds.

Herkimer diamonds are actually quartz crystals – the most highly sought quartz in the world. Because of their clarity and natural faceting, they were dubbed “diamonds” and are a far more sustainable option.

Each stone is unique and the shine is natural because of the stones inherent shapes!

Luci Wearing Blue Linen Shirt and Jeans on Couch

Sustainable Fashion

Want more sustainable fashion? One of the best ways to live sustainably is to rewear pieces again and again!

Check out these black leather jacket outfits, poncho outfits, what to wear with linen pants for day to night, and 4 ways to wear a black button down!

You’ll also want to check out this list of second hand clothing from brands you love, my tips for creating (and maintaining) a minimalist wardrobe, why you should always buy quality clothes (because then you’ll always have something to wear), and these stylish and sustainable shoe companies!

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