What Even is 'Sustainable Jewelry'?

We live in a time where it can feel overwhelming to try to make the right choice. We hear a lot about sustainable fashion, but it can be tricky to sort out what makes something actually sustainable and what is just green marketing. Below is a checklist of practices to consider when shopping for sustainable jewelry.

Sustainable Material Sourcing - 

Lab Grown Gemstones and Diamond Alternatives - Synthetic gemstone alternates have less environmental impact and are 100% free from unethical and environmentally harmful mining conditions. There are lots of options for eco conscious buyers looking for an alternative to diamonds, such as Moissanite. 

American Mined Stones - Gemstones mined in the USA are (generally) better regulated and mining conditions/practices are less obscured by distance.

Ethical Gemstone Sourcing - There are some great US based companies that have built their reputation on making responsibly sourced gems the rule and not the exception. Gem sourcing should come from companies that are invested in mine-to-market tracing and demand safety at every step.

Less 'Precious' Metals -  Bronze vs Gold? When bronze jewelry can beautifully imitate the look of gold for a fraction of the price and environmental impact, it's worth considering. 

Recycled Metals -  Metals should be sourced from refineries that recycle and refine metals, and that also acecept scrap metal to be reused. 

Reused Metals - When working in custom jewelry design, clients are able to provide gold from older jewelry that has been in their family to create something new. Melting down and reusing family gold takes mining out of the picture entirely and allows us to use materials we already have.

Fairmined Gold - Look for Fairmined Gold from a company who supplies conflict free, artisanal mined gold. The Harmony Fairmined organization has been certified and 3rd party audited to ensure that they are following the leading world standards for responsible practices. 


Sustainable Packaging + Supplies

Minimal, Reused and Recycled Packaging -  Truly sustainable fashion is not packaged in plastic. Environmentally friendly paging is recycled, recyclable and naturally biodegradable. Shipping boxes and even little jewelry boxes can be made from 100% post consumer recycled material and completely plastic free. 

Conscious Partnerships - I cancelled my Amazon account in 2020 and am no longer sourcing my mailers or labels from companies that don't pay their taxes or donate to Trump like Amazon and U-LINE. 

I source the majority of my packing materials from EcoEnclose, and incredible company that is heavily invested in creating sustainably packaging options.


Holistic Business Sustainability 

Made in the USA - This should go without saying. American made jewelry. I outsource my casting, bookkeeping and tax prep to people who also live in Portland. Look again when something says "Designed in L.A." Where is it actually made and who is making it? 

Repairs - Jewelry is not indestructible, and the best loved jewelry is usually the piece that gets broken. I offer (usually free) repairs for life. Often it just takes a minute or the right tool to fix something minor and save something from getting thrown out. Repair is a key part of sustainably made jewelry and fashion in general. 

More Inclusive Pricing - Iron Oxide doesn't offer wholesale and is offered direct to customer so that there is no additional markup and I can keep the prices more accessible to a larger audience. I also offer sales through my mailing list.

Community Investment - Since 2020, 25% of my profit has been donated to Portland based non-profits and organizations on a monthly basis. As my company grows, my investment in my community does as well. 

An Ethos - I'm striving to make ethical and sustainable choices in every detail of my business, from recycling down to my domain host and am always looking for ways I can do better.

Forever Learning - Our understanding of what sustainable fashion means is constantly evolving. If there is something I'm missing, please let me know! I'm committed to creating a company that I can be proud of. 

Iron Oxide Designs strives to live by these principals and be a holistically sustainable jewelry brand. Explore sustainably made celestial jewelry from Iron Oxide!