You’ve probably heard of ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ fashion. No longer just buzzwords, the industry is making a momentous shift in the right direction. While clothing is usually the one in the spotlight, jewellery has recently entered the stage. Where is my necklace from? Who made it? What impact am I making with each dollar spent? If these questions have crossed your mind, perhaps it’s time to seriously delve into how you can shop jewellery more consciously. In this guide we demystify some common terms related to ethical jewellery, and round up 5 local jewellery brands to help you get started on your conscious jewellery journey.

Ethical, Fair Trade, Sustainable……What’s The Difference?

Ethical

An umbrella term, ethically-made jewellery is commonly understood as jewellery produced and traded in ways that avoid or lessen social, environmental, culture and political harm. It covers a range of issues such as ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, using materials that don’t harm the environment. The truth is, defining ‘ethical’ is difficult. With no clearly defined universal standards, jewellers can simply develop their own ethical standards. Ultimately, it boils down to transparency and traceability so consumers can make an informed decision on whether the brand aligns with their personal values.

Fair Trade 

According to World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers…” 

The aim is to help disadvantaged producers and artisans in developing countries through education, empowerment and connecting them to a market so they have the opportunity to participate in global trade. To take the concept of fair trade further, brands can pay to be a part of member organisations (like WFTO), in which they are rigorously audited.  

“[Fair trade] is about using the market to alleviate poverty and also promote sustainability. There are a lot of producers or crafters in the developing world who have the know-how to produce, but not the market knowledge or access to a global market. What [fair trade] does is to connect them and in turn help them to better their living conditions. It also means they are compensated fairly for their time and effort versus [needing to go through] a middle man who takes most of the profit when selling to the retailer.” – Vera Mao, Founder of Atelier Agape

Sustainable

Ah, another broad and hard-to-define term. Honestly, its definition depends on which brand you’re asking. It’s commonly associated with being environmentally-friendly and responsible in the way the product’s materials were sourced and processed. For instance, where jewellery is made of recycled or renewable materials, the exact origins of precious stones used are known or where waste is minimised in the production process. On a larger scale, sustainability is really about ecological balance—the longevity of systems and processes, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. This means ensuring the sustainability of the livelihoods of those making the jewellery too, in addition to the environment.

With that, here are five local jewellery brands to get you started.

1. Atelier Agape

Based In | Singapore, with artisans from Jaipur, India
Ethics | Fair trade, ethically-made, artisan-made

 

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Atelier Agape makes beautiful, keepsake jewellery pieces dedicated to mothers and their children–a perfect gift idea for when you attend your next baby shower. Their unique jewellery is delicately handcrafted by an artisan group in rural Jaipur, India. These artisans are supported by SETU, a Fair Trade organisation in India that ensures these artisans are paid fairly and have proper working conditions amongst many other benefits. 

2. Eden + Elie

Based In | Singapore, made in Singapore
Ethics | Handwoven, empowering local artisans, ethically-sourced materials

 

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Eden + Elie melds traditional weaving techniques with modern materials to create meaningful, functional jewellery pieces. A socially-focused label, Eden + Elie works with the Autism Resource Center and Daughters of Tomorrow to train and employ artisans from the communities that they serve. All their jewellery are made in-house with responsibly sourced seed beads and premium metals.

3. WoonHung

Based In | Singapore, with craftsmen from Cebu, Philippines
Ethics | Sustainable practices, natural materials, hand-made

 

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From washing, sorting, hand-dyeing, beading and polishing, WoonHung’s colourful pieces are lovingly handcrafted by craftsmen in the Philippines with traditional skills passed on from generations. WoonHung is also committed to sustainability–not just maximising the potential of materials, but also ensuring the sustainability of livelihoods.

4. Pyar Is Love

Based In | Singapore, with artisans in Bali
Ethics | Hand-crafted, more-than-fair wages, recycled metals

 

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From shell amulets to hand woven bracelets, Pyar’s jewellery collections are Inspired by moments of stillness, nature and human connection. Each piece is thoughtfully designed and made with sustainably-sourced silver and brass from Bali. Pyar works closely with the artisans for each collection: sketches are reviewed by the artisans, materials and finishing are thoughtfully considered, and samples are worn for a good number of weeks to see how they wear before joining the collection.

5. Covenant Jewellery

Based In | Singapore, with artisans in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ethics | Ethically made, artisan-made, ethically-sourced gems

 

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At Covenant Jewellery, each piece of jewellery is created with meaning and purpose for both its maker and wearer. If you’re searching for ethically made engagement rings or wedding bands that can be personalised, Covenant Jewellery is one to keep on your radar. Their jewellery is handcrafted by artisans in Cambodia who are supported with fair wages, healthcare and a positive work environment. They are transparent about their sourcing of gemstones and conflict-free diamonds, and offer fully traceable options and ethically sourced gold.

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Behind each piece of jewellery produced by these brands, lies an incredible story; be it opening doors to the marginalised community, supporting sustainable sources, or preserving traditional craft. And with every purchase, you help to keep these fables going. Whether you’re looking for a meaningful gift, adding to your collection, or looking to get started on ethically-made jewellery — we hope you found this simple guide helpful.

 

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