Investing in quality jewellery such as engagement and wedding rings is fraught with danger from an ethical standpoint. It can be difficult to find options aligned with your values. Diamonds, other stones and precious metals are soiled with unethical labour as well as concerns for the way we mine and use the Earth’s limited resources. And while the high street is littered with options for fine jewellery, you have to look a little deeper to find options that resonate with conscious consumers. These Australian brands are avoiding using materials that cause conflict or harm to other people and are looking to reuse existing precious metals in their production. Whether you’re looking for a traditional setting or something more alternative and unique, there’s something for everyone on this list.
Brisbane-based jeweller Molten Store creates one-of-a-kind pieces, repurposed from pre-loved materials. The brand says there’s already enough gold, silver and diamonds to go around, prioritising reclaimed materials and restored jewellery in its collections. Molten Store sources stunning vintage jewellery and restores the pieces to their former glory or repurposes the materials – carefully extracting any diamonds and melting the precious metals down to their original form. The materials are sent to its studios in Brisbane and Bangkok, ready for a debut in the form of something new. “We use old jewellery to make our new jewellery, reducing our demand for newly mined materials.”
The brand also encourages customers to “break up with their old jewellery” by swapping unwanted gold jewellery for Molten Store credit, saying it’s helping them close the loop on jewellery production. “New finery for you, less reliance on newly mined materials for us. It’s a win-win.”
Ethical Jewellery Australia says it’s for people who “really care where their jewellery comes from”. The brand opts for materials free of any hint of human suffering, criminal behaviour and exploitation at any point in the supply chain. Since launching in 2007, Ethical Jewellery Australia has been at the forefront of the movement towards greater environmental and social responsibility in the Australian jewellery industry. It was one of the first companies in Australia to offer fine jewellery handmade locally using ethically sourced precious metals, diamonds and gemstones; it’s leading a movement of ethical jewellery production in the country; and opened up options for conscious consumers.
PW Fine Jewellery by Paula Walden is built on three key values: quality, simplicity and transparency. Discontent with the lack of standards in the industry and the ethical issues pertaining to overseas production, Paula Walden aims to shift focus towards quality, and educate while doing so. The simple, everyday designs by PW fine Jewellery are made with high quality solid materials and use GIA Certified diamonds. The jeweller can also help to source other ethically sourced gems for your unique pieces. It’s all ethically constructed in Australia.
Utopian Creations are self-proclaimed specialists in ethically sourced diamonds and gems. The jeweller says they go beyond “conflict free” to ensure that their gemstones are traceable back to the mine. Utopian Creations provide a wide range of gemstones (including diamonds garnet, opal, ruby, sapphire, aquamarine, emerald and topaz) all sourced using ethical principles, newly mined, lab grown and recycled, with the aim to provide a safer and healthier environment for all. Shoppers can find a range of ethical jewellery to shop online as well as in store at Utopian Creations in Adelaide.
Sydney-based jeweller Zoë Pook is one of a select group of international jewellers that provides customers with gold from Fairtrade, community-driven mines across the world. The jeweller says an ethical approach to mining means the people involved in the production of precious stones and metal receive a fair wage, safe working conditions and the industry benefits local communities. For the Zoë Pook collection, the jeweller sources ethical gems from several countries around the world including Australia, Canada, Botswana or Russia. Precious metals are sourced from an environmentally friendly refinery with stringent controls on the use of chemicals and recycling of water. Zoë Pook offers a range of ready-to-buy options as well as bespoke orders.
Melbourne-based designers James and Irisa are the couple behind their eponymous fine jewellery label. The pair took their inspiration from the Australian opal to create a jewellery label that showcased the stone among others in a more modern light. Every piece of James & Irisa jewellery is ethically handcrafted in Melbourne using mostly locally sourced stones (ie. Australian opals). The designers say that “down to every last texture or indentation within the pieces, the jewellery is hand-wrought to make sure each and every one of them has its own characteristic and charm.”