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Ethical Jewellery and Sustainable Jewellery in the UK

Updated: May 3

In the jewellery business, we often hear the terms 'ethical' and 'sustainable' mentioned, and it might seem like they're interchangeable. But as experts at Sennen Jewellery, we've taken a closer look and found that there are some key differences that influence how jewellery brands operate, both here in the UK and globally.


When we talk about ethical jewellery, we're focusing on how people are treated throughout the entire supply chain, from mining to manufacturing to retail. Ethical jewellery ensures fair wages, safe working conditions, and stands against exploitative practices like child labor. It's about prioritizing human rights and social justice, while also creating beautiful pieces.


Sustainable jewellery, on the other hand, takes it a step further by focusing on environmental impact. It's about reducing the industry's ecological footprint through responsibly sourced materials, minimizing waste, and adopting eco-friendly production methods. It's a broader perspective that emphasizes caring for the environment as much as for people


Sustainability in jewellery involves a holistic approach that considers the environmental impact of every stage of production, from extraction to end-of-life disposal or recycling.


Ethical Jewellery

At Sennen Jewellery, we champion the values of integrity, equity, and respect throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. Ethical jewellery is at the heart of what we do, focusing on consciously sourced and produced materials that don't harm the environment or exploit workers.


We, alongside brands like Seaside Jewellery and Kernow Gold, lead the way by choosing materials that are both ethically and responsibly sourced. We prioritize local artisans and suppliers who meet stringent environmental standards, fostering a transparent and equitable supply chain.


Sustainable Jewellery

Our commitment to sustainable jewellery involves practices that minimize environmental impact and promote the longevity of our pieces. Sustainability is key, utilizing eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes.


From recycled silver to locally sourced gems, we and our fellow sustainable jewellers incorporate environmental stewardship into the fabric of our creations. We avoid single-use plastics, opting for eco-packaging alternatives, and advocate for circularity through services like repair and upcycling, giving old treasures new life.

ethical jewellery

The Intersection of Ethics and Sustainability

Ethical and sustainable jewellery intersect at the crossroads of conscience and craftsmanship. By choosing pieces crafted with care and consideration, consumers not only can wear beautiful jewellery but also become agents of change. Investing in ethical and sustainable jewellery is an investment in a brighter, more equitable future for both humanity and the planet.


There are a number of ways to make sure jewellery is more ethical and sustainable:

1. Ethically and Responsibly Sourced Materials


Choose jewellery where the materials used are ethically and responsibly sourced. Sennen Jewellery, Seaside jewellery and Kernow Gold have chosen local and small designers who have committed to environmental goals. The suppliers of the 9ct Gold ranges are members of the Responsible Jewellery Council, which is the global membership and standards body for responsible jewellery throughout the entire supply chain – from mine to retail. They have a Code of Practice with key frameworks, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recycled silver and locally sourced recycled silver are also good practices to look out for. Our handmade 18ct Gold Jewellery is made from single origin mine gold, using ethical practices.


2. Eco Packaging


ethical jewellery

Sennen Jewellery, Seaside jewellery and Kernow Gold have become Business Champions for the Surfers Against Sewage "Plastic Free Communities" initiative. These online jewellery stores have committed to reduce and eventually exclude all single use plastic such as bubble wrap in padded envelopes and even in the foam in jewellery boxes. Eco-foam jewellery box inserts are now used, which are made from made from tall oil - a by-product from wooden pulp, which is a part of the paper production process. The inserts are tested free from tarnish and made without plastic and unwanted chemistry.


3. Transparent Supply Chains


ethical jewellery

Seek out brands that provide transparency regarding their supply chains. Look for companies that disclose information about the origins of their materials, the working conditions of their artisans, and their environmental practices. Transparency fosters accountability and allows consumers to make informed choices.



4. Certifications and Standards


ethical jewellery

Prioritize jewellery that holds certifications or adheres to industry standards for ethical and sustainable practices.


Certifications like Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined ensure that precious metals are sourced responsibly, while standards such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme certify that diamonds are conflict-free.


These certifications offer reassurance that jewellery meets rigorous ethical and environmental criteria.


5. Supporting Artisan Communities


ethical jewellery

Choose jewellery that supports artisanal communities and traditional craftsmanship. By purchasing pieces crafted by skilled artisans, often using time-honored techniques passed down through generations, consumers can contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and empower communities to thrive economically.


6. Minimalist Design Philosophy


ethical jewellery
Silver Open Wrap Bangle and Ring

Embrace minimalist design principles that prioritize simplicity, durability, and versatility. Investing in timeless pieces that transcend trends reduces the need for frequent replacements and minimizes waste. Quality over quantity is a hallmark of sustainable consumption, encouraging mindful purchasing decisions.


7. Recycling and Circular Economy Initiatives

Explore brands that actively participate in recycling and circular economy initiatives. Some jewellery companies offer recycling programs where old or unwanted jewellery can be returned and repurposed into new creations. By supporting these initiatives, consumers contribute to the closing of material loops and the reduction of virgin resource extraction.


8. Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Jewellery


ethical jewellery

Consider the carbon footprint of jewellery production and transportation. Opt for brands that prioritize local sourcing and manufacturing to minimize emissions associated with long-distance transportation.


Look for initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption and offsetting carbon emissions, further mitigating the environmental impact of jewellery production.



9. Demi Fine Jewellery


Demi fine jewellery occupies a unique space between high-end luxury and costume jewellery, offering pieces crafted with quality materials like sterling silver and semi-precious stones.


These versatile jewellery pieces provide an affordable yet stylish option for everyday wear, allowing you to express your personal style without compromising on quality or sustainability.






10. Consider choosing Lab-Grown Diamonds or Cubic Zirconia


Lab-grown diamonds represent a paradigm shift in the jewellery business, offering a sustainable and ethical alternative to mined diamonds.

These gems are created in controlled environments using advanced technology, resulting in stones that are chemically and visually identical to their natural counterparts. By choosing lab-grown diamonds, you can enjoy the beauty and brilliance of diamonds while minimizing environmental impact and supporting ethical practices in the diamond industry.




The Benefits of Ethical Jewellery UK


In a world increasingly mindful of its ecological footprint, ethical jewellery represents responsibility and conscious consumption. Crafted with recycled materials, mined through sustainable practices, and produced under ethical working conditions, ethical jewellery embodies a harmonious blend of beauty and integrity. Here are some benefits of choosing ethical jewellery, each facet reflecting a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.


ethical jewellery

1. Environmental Stewardship:

At the heart of ethical jewellery lies respect for the environment. Traditional mining practices can exact a heavy toll on ecosystems, depleting natural resources and disrupting delicate ecosystems.


By opting for ethically sourced materials such as fairmined gold and recycled silver, consumers mitigate the environmental impact of jewellery production. These materials are obtained through responsible mining practices that prioritize ecological preservation, minimizing habitat destruction and reducing carbon emissions.




2. Upholding Fair Labour Practices:

Beyond its ecological implications, ethical jewellery champions the rights and dignity of the people who bring these creations to life. The jewellery business has, at times, been marred by reports of exploitative labour practices, including child labour and unsafe working conditions. By choosing ethical jewellery, consumers align themselves with brands committed to fair labour practices, ensuring that artisans receive fair wages and work in safe, humane conditions. Through their purchases, consumers become agents of positive change, advocating for social justice and economic empowerment within the jewellery supply chain.


3. Personal Values:

Ethical jewellery is a powerful expression of personal values and convictions. Each piece tells a story of conscious choice and mindful living, resonating with individuals who seek to align their actions with their ethical principles. Whether traditional or contemporary, ethical jewellery serves as a tangible symbol of one's commitment to sustainability, social justice, and environmental stewardship. With every wear, wearers affirm their dedication to making a positive impact on the world, sparking conversations and inspiring others to join the movement towards ethical consumption.


4. Timeless Designs with a Sustainable Edge:

In addition to its ethical foundations, ethical jewellery boasts designs which will stand the test of time, but imbued with a sustainable edge. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail and enduring craftsmanship, these pieces transcend fleeting trends, offering enduring elegance that stands the test of time. By investing in ethical jewellery, consumers not only adorn themselves with beauty but also contribute to a culture of mindful consumption, where quality and longevity take precedence over mass production and disposable fashion.


5. Sustainably Sourced:

Sustainably sourced materials form the cornerstone of ethical jewellery, ensuring that each piece is imbued with integrity from its inception. From responsibly mined gemstones to recycled precious metals, every element is selected with care, reflecting a commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical sourcing practices. By embracing ethical jewellery, consumers become part of a movement towards greater transparency and accountability within the industry, driving positive change for both people and planet.


ethical jewellery

Ethically Sourced Jewellery Tips

There are many ways to celebrate earth day with sustainable and ethical jewellery. Here are a few ideas:

  • Buy ethical jewellery. When you buy ethical jewellery, whether it be a pair of earrings or a Wedding ring commission, you are supporting businesses that are committed to sustainability. You can find ethical jewellery in the collections at Sennen Jewellery, Seaside jewellery and Kernow Gold.

  • Donate your old jewellery. If you have any old jewellery that you no longer wear, consider donating it to a charity or charity shop. This will help to keep jewellery out of landfills and give it a second life.

  • Repair your jewellery. If your jewellery is broken or damaged, consider having it repaired instead of replacing it. This will help to extend the life of your jewellery and reduce waste.

  • Upcycle your jewellery. If you have any old jewellery that you no longer wear, consider upcycling it into something new. Metals can be melted down and formed into a completely new piece of jewellery whilst retaining the links with the past. Sennen Jewellery can help in this with their custom jewellery design service.

  • Choose jewellery that is designed to last. Well-made jewellery will last for years, so you can enjoy it for a long time. Gold jewellery, Sterling Silver jewellery, Cornish tin Jewellery and Murano Glass jewellery are all made to stand the test of time.

  • Choose jewellery made locally. This reduces the environmental cost of transporting or importing jewellery and also safeguards local small businesses and jobs.

  • Do your research. If you would like to make sure that a particular piece of jewellery is ethically sourced then asking the store will be a good source of information. They will be likely to be happy to help, and if they are not then you probably have your answer!

  • Get involved in environmental advocacy; there are many charities investing in our planet. Surfers against Sewage (SAS) for example is a UK charity founded in 1990 by a group of surfers in Cornwall, England. The charity's mission is to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life. SAS campaigns for a clean ocean, rivers and lakes for wildlife and people.

  • Reduce your personal plastic waste by choosing jewellery stores that have committed to reducing plastic waste, and bringing less plastic into your home, for example choosing fruit that is loose rather than packaged in plastic.


By following these tips, you can find ethical jewellery that is beautiful, sustainable, and fair. When you buy ethical jewellery, you are making a difference for the planet and the people who make it.


Diamond Cut Circle Link Recycled Silver Jewellery Set

Sustainably Sourced Jewellery: Every Little Bit Helps

Ethical jewellery offers a pathway to a more sustainable and socially responsible future, where beauty seamlessly integrates with integrity, and each piece symbolizes ethical living. With its myriad benefits, ethical jewellery extends beyond ornamentation, encouraging wearers to embrace their role as stewards of change, one exquisite piece at a time.


By incorporating small changes into our daily lives, we can make a big difference for our planet. Let's prioritize choices that uphold sustainable practices and safeguard our natural resources.


Supporting businesses and organizations committed to ethical sourcing, including those using fairmined gold and recycled sterling silver, contributes to this collective effort. Together, we can foster a more sustainable future for our planet.


ethical jewellery

FAQs: Ethical Jewellery UK

What Makes Silver Jewellery Design Sustainable?

Sustainable silver jewellery design involves using recycled or ethically sourced materials, minimizing waste in the production process, and ensuring fair labor practices. By choosing sustainable silver jewellery, you can support ethical and environmentally conscious practices in the industry.


What are Some Eco-Friendly Materials used in the Jewellery Industry?

Eco-friendly materials used in sustainable sterling silver jewellery design include recycled silver, fairmined gold, and conflict-free diamonds. Some designers also use Eco foam inserts made from Tall Oil in jewellery boxes instead of foam made from plastic.


What is Tall Oil and Why is it Eco Friendly?

Tall oil is a by-product of the wood pulp and paper manufacturing process, specifically from the process used to convert wood chips into pulp. Tall oil is eco-friendly because it is a renewable resource and a by-product that would otherwise go to waste. It can be used in a variety of applications, including as a source of biofuels, as a component in adhesives, and as a substitute for fossil fuel-derived products such as plastics. Additionally, tall oil can be processed using environmentally friendly methods, such as by using enzymes rather than harsh chemicals.


Can Sustainable Sterling Silver Jewellery Design be Fashionable?

Absolutely! Many designers are creating stunning and fashion-forward sustainable silver jewellery pieces that reflect current trends and styles. By choosing sustainable options, you can make a fashion statement while also supporting ethical and environmentally friendly practices.


Is it possible to Create Ethical Earrings in Handmade Jewellery?

Certainly! It is definitely possible to create Ethical earrings in handmade jewellery. Earrings can be crafted with meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to ethical sourcing. Artisans select responsibly sourced materials such as fairmined gold and recycled silver to ensure minimal environmental impact. Each pair of earrings in our collections is thoughtfully designed and meticulously created by skilled artisans, reflecting a dedication to both craftsmanship and ethical values.


Why is Sustainable Silver Jewellery Design Important?

Sustainable silver jewellery design is important because it supports ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability. By choosing sustainable options, you can make a positive impact on the industry and contribute to a more responsible and conscious approach to jewellery design.


What is Plastic-Free jewellery?

Plastic-free jewellery is made without the use of any plastic materials, including packaging. Instead, sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as recycled metals, natural gemstones, and biodegradable packaging are used.


Why is it Important to Choose Plastic-Free Jewellery?

Choosing plastic-free jewellery is important for the environment as plastic waste is a major contributor to pollution and has a negative impact on wildlife. By choosing plastic-free jewellery, you are making a conscious effort to reduce your environmental impact.

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