Sustainable Jewellery: Vegan-Friendly Jewellery

Sustainable Jewellery: Vegan-Friendly Jewellery

This is the second part of a series I'm writing about sustainable jewellery for my shop's Style Journal. The first article published was about recycled gold. These articles focus on the popular terms used to market sustainable jewellery to customers, what they mean and why they're used. Hopefully reading these articles helps you to better understand the industry, and know what to look for when buying new jewellery.

It's becoming increasingly popular for brands to label their jewellery as vegan-friendly. Even when it seems obvious that it would be. So just like the term 'recycled gold', the term 'vegan jewellery' can be used as greenwashing to make a brand appear more eco-friendly than it is. However, it might comes as a surprise to learn that not all jewellery is vegan-friendly—and you won't necessarily be able to tell just by looking at it.

Both the manufacturing processes of creating jewellery as well as the materials it's made from can involve cruelty to animals. You'll need to take a close look at how your jewellery was made and what it was made from to know whether the jewellery you're buying really is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.

A few materials commonly used to craft jewellery include pearls, leather, silk, and wool. As well as beeswax, which is used in the manufacturing process. Continue reading about these materials, why they are cruel to animals, and the alternative vegan-friendly sustainable jewellery to look out for.

Sustainable Jewellery: Vegan-Friendly Jewellery

Animal Exploitation in Jewellery

Pearls are one of the most common non-vegan materials used to make jewellery. They are produced naturally by molluscs but can also be cultured. This is a cruel method that forces an irritant to live in the creature's shell. To produce pearls, molluscs are put under stress and often killed in a process that is entirely unnecessary just to make jewellery.

Leather is another very popular material in jewellery making. The type of leather used varies from cows and pigs to exotic and sometimes endangered animals. All of these animals are farmed and killed for their skin, causing immense suffering and a huge environmental impact. It won't biodegrade either due to the chemicals used in manufacturing. New leather is neither a sustainable nor eco-friendly option.

A type of jewellery referred to as 'natural jewellery' uses the bones, teeth, or horns of animals. Feathers and fur, as well as shell and coral are also frequently used. All of these involve cruelty in the sourcing of these materials. Jewellers may claim their materials are 'ethically sourced,' however, it's very hard to provide evidence that this is the case.

Vegan-friendly jewellery isn't just about the materials used. It's also about the manufacturing processes used to make it. Beeswax is commonly used because of its versatility and usefulness. It can be used as a lubricant on tools, for polishing stones, casting pieces, and preventing rusting or oxidisation. When there are suitable vegan-friendly alternatives jewellers can use, there's no reason to choose beeswax.

Sustainable Jewellery: Vegan-Friendly Jewellery

What is vegan-friendly jewellery?

'Vegan-friendly jewellery' has become a popular marketing term for jewellers looking to highlight their products as ethical and sustainable. It indicates to the customer that the jewellery is crafted without the use of animal-based products, and hasn't caused harm the animals. It also implies the jewellery is more eco-friendly—that isn't always the case.

Labeling jewellery as 'vegan-friendly' doesn't mean that it's completely cruelty-free, or even that it's sustainable. As a customer, you need to be wary of any brand who promotes their jewellery as vegan-friendly without also having a transparent ethics and sustainability policy. The jeweller needs to provide detailed information on the materials they use and where they were sourced.

If a brand is promoting their jewellery as 'vegan-friendly' with no other focus on environmental issues or sustainability, you can be sure it's greenwashing rather than a genuine concern or focus of the brand.

Why buy vegan-friendly jewellery?

Choosing to buy and wear sustainable vegan-friendly jewellery helps save hundreds of thousands of animals from suffering. Plastic-free leathers are being made from plants, simulated pearls can be made from glass, and there are vegan silk can be produced through fermentation. Or you can choose jewellery that doesn't use any of these materials, animal derived or not. When there are so many alternatives that look and feel the same as the real thing; why buy jewellery that involved cruelty to animals and humans?

If you want to make sure your jewellery is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, avoid any jewellers who use animal materials as described above. Look on the brand's website for information about their materials, where they were sourced, how their jewellery is made, and their sustainability policy.

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