How to shop for ethical jewellery
What you need to know about ethical jewellery, according to a sustainable designer
If you’re interested in sustainable fashion, have your reusuable coffee cup routine sorted and mostly remember to BYO shopping bags, you’ll be happy to know shopping for jewellery can be eco too. Not only is there a fast-growing number of jewellery designers introducing sustainable and ethical practices, there are a number of ways we can make a difference in the way we shop too.
Fairina Cheng is one such jewellery designer whose contemporary approach to design includes encouraging her clients to repurpose old jewellery, ignoring social norms of what an engagement ring should look like, and choosing ethically sourced stones.
“I craft my pieces in small batches or make them to order. In the workshop, I prioritise sustainability by recycling scrap materials and substituting harsh chemicals with natural, environmentally friendly options.”
Here are Fairina’s ethical jewellery tips:
It’s OK to repurpose your grandma’s old engagement ring
We wouldn’t think twice about altering a vintage dress, however repurposing antique jewellery seems, major.
“Pre-loved jewellery is a great way to create a really special piece without having to purchase new materials,” explains Fairina.
“The gemstones and metal can often be used and it ticks all the boxes of reduce, reuse and recycle. Rather than looking at it like you are pulling apart a family heirloom, it can be a great way to imbue your special piece with the story of a family.”
Know where your gems come from
Large-scale mining can be destructive, so choose gems that are sourced ethically and with respect for the environment.
“Consider diamonds that are traceable right to the source (and certified as such), or diamonds that originate from Canada and Australia, which are sourced in a more responsible way,’’ says Fairina
Lab-grown stones are just as beautiful
“Lab-created gems are grown in a laboratory under controlled conditions. They are chemically identical to their mined counterparts, the only difference being that they have been made in a lab,’’ says Fairina.
“A lab-created diamond for example is chemically and physically identical to a mined diamond and because they don’t require intensive mining, they don’t have the environmental impact.”