What Is Ethical Jewelry Manufacturing Meaning
Just like designer fashion, the latest phone, and expensive perfume, jewelry is a luxury item.
We purchase jewelry to treat ourselves, making us look and feel good with most of us happy to
pay for the privilege.
Something that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with, however, is the idea of
ethical jewelry. Knowing where jewelry comes from, who made it, and how the materials were
sourced is becoming an important factor for customers of all stripes.
Below, we’ll answer the question what is ethical jewelry manufacturing and why it’s so important
to modern consumers.
What is ethical jewelry?
Ultimately, ethical jewelry relates to the traceability of a piece.
In tracing the origin of a jewelry piece, you can determine if its production has had a negative
impact on the people and environments involved.
To determine this, you need to look at the supply chain from mine to retail. At all stages of
production, a jewelry piece involves lots of different people at different places. This means
taking a look at wage-structuring, safe working practices, company policies that enhance
wellbeing, and protecting human rights wherever production takes place.
In some definitions, ethical jewelry also encompasses environmental impact. This means,
considering how mining the jewelry material has affected local environments and ecosystems. It
also involves thinking about whether the refinement and crafting of the piece has caused undue
damage to local areas.
ELF925, for example, has a human rights policy and publishes annual reports to review
responsible business practices. Workers are kept safe and respected, recycling is practiced,
and efforts to reduce carbon emissions are main areas of focus.
Despite the best efforts of jewelry manufacturers, there are still blind spots in the industry. Most
particularly in the mining industry where natural gemstones are concerned.
There, problems still persist in the areas of duty of care towards workers, traceability,
sustainable practices, and more. These problems are not localized to any single country and in
the worst cases see child labor, worker deaths, and damage to local ecosystems commonplace.
Fortunately, the use of man-made gemstones and consumer interest are helping to curb these
practices and force the gemstone industry to step up. Manufacturers now expect traceability
reports and are striving to only work with responsible suppliers. This is in response to consumer
sentiment around jewelry changing, wanting pieces to be as ethical as possible.
What are the hallmarks of ethical jewelry?
Unlike some pieces, ethical jewelry will therefore be traceable from source to customer. This
traceability should show that the jewelry has not negatively affected people (and ideally the
environment) during its production.
When purchasing jewelry, look out for these signs of ethical jewelry:
● Hallmarks for verifiability
● ROHS Compliant (lead, nickel, and cadmium free)
● Materials mined from operations with adequate health and safety practices
● High-quality finish and attention to detail
● Recycling of materials
● Human rights policies enacted
● Limited use of toxic chemicals during production
The future of ethical jewelry
While ethical jewelry boils down to traceability, corruption, fraud, and mispractice can cause
consumers to lose trust in supply chain reporting.
One way ethical jewelry manufacturers are looking to solve this and reassure consumers is to
implement blockchain technology.
Most commonly known for its use in Bitcoin and NFTs, blockchain tech is fully transparent,
immutable, and trustless, making it impossible to change records after the fact.
Solutions such as TrustChain are looking to use blockchain to track metals and precious stones
throughout the supply chain, allowing suppliers and consumers to verify traceability for
It’s still early days, however, and the technology is yet to find mainstream use.
Why choose ethical jewelry?
As jewelry is a luxury item, knowing something has been sourced and produced in a responsible
way means you can enjoy it all the more.
Should a piece be produced on the back of Child labor, poorly paid workers, and environmental
damage, it detracts from a jewelry pieces appeal.
It is often the case that manufacturers who care about ethical practices also take greater pride
in their work. This means ethical jewelry is often of a higher quality, with finer detail.
Ethical jewelry tends to be found produced by small scale hobbyist jewelry makers and larger
scale manufacturers with modern factories.
Ethical jewelry concentrates on the impact jewelry has on people and the environment. This
means tracing materials and companies involved and making sure they treat workers fairly with
safe conditions and fair wages. It also means paying attention to how materials are sourced,
looking closely at how mining and manufacturing affects plant and wildlife.
Consumers and retailers should both ask questions about how pieces are made and where they
from. This encourages the global jewelry industry to keep making strides towards becoming
more ethical. Supporting ethical jewelry companies like ELF925 is one way of doing this.