ethical jewelry

Ethical Jewelry: The Top 9 Places to Find Minimalist, Everyday Jewelry

where to buy minimalist and ethical jewelry
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You might think I'm not a jewelry person, but you would be wrong. 

I believe in a good jewelry, but I also believe in not overdoing it. Coco Chanel is credited with saying that you should take one piece of jewelry off before leaving the house. Well, if I did that, I wouldn't have any jewelry on anymore. But that one special piece can make a difference: in your mood, in the way your outfit looks, in the way you compose yourself.

I have started to branch out a bit. I recently purchased a delicate cross bracelet from Made in USA brand Alex & Ani that I keep tightened around my left wrist at all times. Some days I add statement earrings or a simple necklace. It's not a lot, but it's noticeable.

There are likely hundreds of jewelry makers doing innovative things with fair labor and sustainable materials, but for the sake of brevity, here are my top 9...

where to buy minimalist and ethical jewelry

1. Sela Designs

Simple geometric jewelry made with seeds and other natural materials with proceeds benefiting orphans.

My Pick: Black and Gold Earrings (Check out more styles on her website and see these worn here)

2. Hannah Naomi

Barely there, gently sculpted jewelry handmade in Portland, Oregon.

My Pick: Mini Bead Bar Stud Earrings

3. Hands Producing Hope

Lightweight jewelry with a boho twist produced under fair trade guidelines.

My Pick: Shalom Necklace (See my review here)
where to buy minimalist and ethical jewelry

4. Happy Fox Studio

Handmade statement jewelry made with upcycled materials

My Pick: Ear Crawler (See my review here)

5. 31 Bits

Imaginative jewelry produced under fair trade guidelines.

My Pick: Constellation Hoops

where to buy minimalist and ethical jewelry

6. Soko

Forward thinking jewelry produced with ethical labor standards.

My Pick: Lucine Statement Ring (not pictured)

7. Sharon Z

Edgy jewelry made with recycled and ethically sourced materials.

My Pick: Silver Spear Earrings (see my review here)

8. Edge of Ember

Classic luxury jewelry made with fair labor and sustainable materials.

My Pick: Edie Rose Bar Necklace

9. Ananda Soul

Bali-inspired motifs made fairly with profits benefiting homeless children.

My Pick: Ever Present Faith Nose Ring (see my review here)
where to buy minimalist and ethical jewelry

Sharon Z Jewelry: Simply Good Design (That's Child Labor Free)

Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry
This post was sponsored by Sharon Z Jewelry and I received product for review.

Over the past few years, I've spoken with several jewelry designers who strive for ethics in their production process and they unanimously agree on one thing: it's very difficult to trace raw materials. 

If you purchase a conventionally made jewelry item - say gold hoops or a diamond engagement ring - you can almost guarantee that child labor was involved somewhere in the production process. According to Human Rights Watch, thousands of children under the age of 17 help process raw gold in unregulated Ghanaian and other African mines, using toxic mercury to purify the gold. In Bolivia, an estimated 3,000 children - some as young as 6 - work in the silver mines (in 2013, in a very Newsies-reminiscent turn of events, some child workers were beginning to unionize). Globally, at least 1 million children work in mines, forced there by poverty and political unrest, and often receive a wage as low as $2 per day if they receive a wage at all.

There's something particularly disturbing about child labor, but we need to remember that adults don't fare any better from these exploitative industries. All are caught up in a system - made possible by local governments and deal-hungry consumers - that sees more value in hoarding their money than in human livelihood.

One way to ensure that the jewelry you're buying is ethically and sustainable sourced is to stick with designers who prioritize recycled, lab grown, and fair mined materials. Sharon Z is one such designer...
  Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelrySharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry
Ethical Details: Top - Synergy Clothing; Jeans - thrifted; Shoes - c/o Mawu Lolo; Silver Spear Earrings - c/o Sharon Z Jewelry

Sharon Zimmerman makes all of her minimalist, eye-catching jewelry in her San Francisco studio out of sustainable and ethically sourced materials. All silver and gold is recycled, and a large portion of it is sourced from a family-owned business just an hour away from where I live in Virginia (the ethical community is a small world after all!). 

Gemstones are either recycled or lab created. In Sharon's words

Having been a metalsmith for more than 10 years, I have come to understand the issues and complications around conflict-free stones, where they are mined and how laborers are treated. In my opinion, “conflict-free” stones are a dubious ideal and they cannot feasibly be tracked in today’s market. So I have chosen instead to work with laboratory-grown stones from the American companies Chatham and Diamond Foundry. With the exact same composition as mined stones, they are chemically and physically identical-they do not compromise the quality of my jewelry or my modern conscience.

Sharon is also happy to work with client-provided stones to create one-of-a-kind pieces. I mention this because engagement and wedding season is upon us. My very own wedding anniversary is less than a month away. If my husband and I'd had any awareness about the ethics of the jewelry industry back when we were getting engaged, we would have repurposed a diamond my mother-in-law offered us instead of going for a new sapphire engagement ring. You live and learn. Anyways, read about Sharon's process here.
     Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry

Sharon sent me her small but badass recycled Silver Spear Earrings to review. They're a "huggie" style that wraps around the earlobe, making a subtle but impactful statement in profile. I wore them to church a couple weeks ago and my fellow chorister turned to me and said something to the effect of "Woah! I like your earrings!" as they caught her eye. I don't mind wearing something that has something of a stunning effect on people!

I opted for the oxidized finish so they'd be less shiny and more suitable - at least to my taste - for everyday wear. I'm very happy to add them to my arsenal of artisanal, thoughtful jewelry.

These were packaged in a simple, recycled box wrapped in natural-tone paper and sealed with pink wax. I was delighted by the hand-stamped wax seal (my husband bore the brunt of my audible delight as I opened it in the kitchen when I got home from work). It showed a lot of care without being gaudy or wasteful.

And in case you're wondering this Pride month, Sharon Z is LGBTQ friendly.


Shop Sharon Z here. 

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the moral wardrobe: Candorra Artisans Bangles

conscious jewelry

I'm not sure whether to feel lucky or concerned that the weather's still so nice in early December. It's highly likely that this is a sign of things to come on the climate change front, but I'm still a bit relieved that I don't have to endure all the cold of winter just yet.

It also gives me the opportunity to show off my new bangles - provided for review from Candorra Artisans - sans gloves. Candorra was founded by Amanda Thornton in early 2014 and began working with artisans in Sri Lanka in June of that year. Candorra specializes in stunning, hand crafted jewelry and accessories made primarily by women in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Northern India, and South Africa. Artisans are paid up front and receive a living wage. (Amanda shared the brand story on Tuesday, so I recommend you check this post for more background information.)

  candorra artisans jewelry review
ethical outfit post with bangles

I've said before that I'm not much of a bracelet wearer, but these are the sorts of pieces you keep and hand down to loved ones as the years pass. The wire is plated in 24k gold with about 7 times the gold content of traditional plated wire since they're able to plate in house. There are tons of different stones (and world coins! - my coins are from Finland) to choose from and most options fall at or under $40.00 at regular price (plus, they're currently on sale). I'm wearing the Small Pyrite and the Gold Coin bangles.

fair trade banglescandorra artisan review Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Cardigan - thrifted; Jacket - secondhand via thredup; Boots - old; Bracelets - c/o Candorra Artisans

Overall, I'm really impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of the bangles and I love the structure and mission of Candorra Artisans. Small-wristed folks may need to pull the bracelets up their arms a bit to make them feel more secure, as there is a danger of them slipping off, but that's to be expected with bangles. I'm looking forward to wearing these hiked up my arm with a sundress in the summertime.

For a limited time, all Candorra Artisans bangles are 40% off on their website. 


Learn more about Candorra Artisans and shop their collection on their website. Follow along on facebookpinterest, and instagram