Awesome, ethical fine jewelry pieces to invest in

ethical fine jewelryI am making an effort to up my fashion game. I realized that I own no jewelry that isn't my wedding ring or very old things from Claire's (mostly lone earrings that smells a little funky).

I would like to buy a few pieces fine jewelry — and I'm willing to save up for them — but I also have strong ethical concerns about the industry. I know vintage is an option, but availability is unpredictable. I save better when I know exactly what it is I want to buy, so I am interested in buying new. All of the ethical jewelry places I've found cater to the engagement/wedding market, which I totally get, but doesn't help me.

Where can I find semi-fancy to fancy ethical (non-wedding) jewelry? -Amberella

Yes! I can help. I'm by no means the best at accessorizing, nor do I really enjoy it. That's why I've found a few key pieces of nice jewelry, and then only choose between those pieces. Most of them are so nice that they can stay on my body all the time, and be both dressy and casual.

I've used Gemvara to illustrate some of the key pieces of fine jewelry you should invest in, because they're members of the American Gem Trade Association, supporting high ethical sourcing standards. Plus you can customize their pieces to your liking. I'm a big fan of yellow gold right now, but if you're not you can find all these styles in silver, white gold, and platinum…

Simple, short, every day necklace

Both Ariel and I have necklaces that are very similar to these, and we wear them all the time…

3mm round diamond necklace -- $285
3mm round diamond necklace — $285
14k gold round diamond pendant necklace -- $2585 (as pictured)
14k gold round diamond pendant necklace — $2585 (as pictured)
Bonus necklace: I do NOT have one like this, but I wish I did. The Bold East West Pear Necklace with black onyx $160
Bonus necklace: I do NOT have one like this, but I wish I did. The Bold East West Pear Necklace with black onyx — $160

Long, layering necklace

I break out my few longer necklaces for dressier occasions, or when I have a boring-ish outfit that needs a pop of something fun.

Pure Pave Pendant with diamonds and aquamarine -- $740
Pure Pave Pendant with diamonds and aquamarine — $740
Double Bar 1-stone Y Necklace
Double Bar 1-stone Y Necklace — $195

Bracelets

I'm hard on my bracelets, so I like to wear a collection of solid gold bangles — they look pretty, I like the noise they make when they clink together, and they're solid as fuck. But I also love the look of one dainty bracelet to rock every fucking day…

Jupiter Bangle with rock crystals -- $1,650
Jupiter Bangle with rock crystals — $1,650
Eclipse Pear Bangle with black onyx and diamond -- $665
Eclipse Pear Bangle with black onyx and diamond — $665
Three Stone Bar Bracelet with diamonds -- $245
Three Stone Bar Bracelet with diamonds — $245

Rings

My favorite trick for buying rings is to purchase stacking sets. That way, you can mix up looks, metals, and even sizes (if you enlist a jeweler to help make certain rings bigger or smaller), that way you can wear them all together, or spread them out over different fingers, depending on your mood…

Princess Stacking Ring Set in rose gold and silver, with rock crystal and black diamonds -- $1,280
Princess Stacking Ring Set in rose gold and silver, with rock crystal and black diamonds — $1,280
Organic Stacking Ring Set with rose, yellow, and white gold and white sapphires -- $1,090
Organic Stacking Ring Set with rose, yellow, and white gold and white sapphires — $1,090

Okay, those are my go-to fine jewelry pieces. What are yours?

Join our community!

  1. Many jewelry stores, especially those carrying estate jewelry or even antique stores, will allow for layaway. Might be worth looking into if you think you could find a vintage piece you love, and then pay it off slowly.

    Also, if you aren't opposed to pawn shops, they really can have some interesting pieces with a bit of hunting. The things in pawn shops aren't always sad tales of people losing their things… Many people sell jewelry they don't want, or inherited, to pawn shops because it is easy and hassle free. I worked at one for a time, and there was a mother who thanked us profusely, because we made Xmas possible for her kids that year. Granted, there are sad stories too, but pawned items many times are just items people don't want anymore.

    5 agree
  2. Some jewelry stores are also starting to carry synthetic stones whose elemental structure is identical to those taken from the ground, except they are usually more "perfect". I believe only the id numbers seen with a loop show the difference. I have not investigated the environmental impacts such as water & energy use, but at least you know you aren't buying blood diamonds and they are less expensive. Also, if you are willing to consider semi-precious stones, check out your local art center and galleries for unique, local, hand made items. There you can often get to know the artist as well and ask about the source of the materials.

    5 agree
  3. Earrings! (assuming you have pierced ears). I strongly recommend getting a nice pair of small hoops, maybe like these: http://www.gemvara.com/jewelry/pave-huggie-hoop-earrings-1mm-gems/14k-rose-gold-earrings-with-diamond/r09bp. I prefer ones with the ends of the post enclosed but that's personal. I find posts really uncomfortable, to be honest, and extra so when I sleep in them. I have both silver and gold hoops that I can wear 24/7. I don't remove them when I shower or anything. They look super classy but involve no thought. Alternately, if you like posts, getting small gems or even plain knots or bars or something can be a nice way to look put together without having to think about it.

    1 agrees
  4. We had our wedding rings made by the amazing Ash Hilton (www.ashhilton.com) who uses all ethical and environmentally friendly processes to make his stuff (and it's beautiful!). I'd also suggest places like Etsy, as often small handmade businesses are more focused on ensuring their pieces are ethical and environmentally friendly.

    Of course, not everything has to be stones – wooden/meteorite jewellery is also beautiful and less worrisome about blood diamonds etc.

  5. I love love love http://www.alyshawhitfield.com she specialises in just rings but has done other items in the past. I got my wedding set from her and it's absolutely perfect. She also takes care to ethically source her gemstones and recycles metal whenever she can so definitely a great choice for the conscious consumer! She even buys packaging from independents all across the US. If you want rings go check her out!

Leave a Reply to Megan Finley Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.