Why and How to Select Sustainable and Ethical Jewelry

Preserve Quality While Saving the Earth

Discovering what's behind the craftsmanship of every jewelry piece reveals that it embodies more than elegance and class for the wearer. It also celebrates local materials, a long-standing artistic tradition, and even an aspect of a nation's rich cultural heritage.

snake necklace, herringbone chain

With the slow fashion movement making its way to the jewelry world, ioola understands how today's women have become more careful about their buying choices. Before buying a piece of jewelry, they first check where the precious metals or stones came from, how they were mined, who the artisans are, and how the brand gives back to the community. In fact, 67% of consumers already factor in a brand’s social and environmental responsibilities when it comes to shopping for fashion items. 

Shop the picture: necklace: See you at 5 PM, bracelet: Parisian Amour

Why You Need to Choose Well

Choosing sustainable and ethical jewelry serves two purposes—it satisfies your need for self-expression, and it respects efforts to conserve natural resources and support decent and humane livelihood.

Self-Expression

  • Versatility

Most pieces of jewelry that are considered slow fashion are multi-seasonal. You can mix and match several of these high-quality, classic items, like studs, pearls, hoops, and solitaire pendants, with any outfit throughout the whole year. Investing on such jewelry pieces is a great next logical move if you're currently building a sustainable "capsule wardrobe."

  • Longevity
star sign necklace

Buying cheap, fancy accessories can be tempting, especially when they're popular at the moment or when they seem like bargain buys. But, imitation or plastic jewelry that eventually lose their luster or succumb to scuffs and cracks would just end up in your garbage bin. In contrast, sustainably made jewelry can last forever. They can be slightly modified and can even become heirloom pieces in the long run. 

Shop the picture: collection: Zodiac Sign Collection

Social consciousness

  • Environmental conservation

A sustainable brand shows kindness to the planet by using responsibly sourced gemstones and metal. This means that the raw materials come from legal mining operations and mining companies that practice ecosystem rehabilitation. In many communities, soil and water quality, as well as biodiversity, are affected when vegetation is cleared and large sections of land are moved for mining and transportation routes.

Sustainable mining also means that safe (to humans and the environment) and little to no chemicals were used during extraction.

  • Humane livelihood

An ethical brand ensures safe and legal working conditions and fair income for their workers. Jewelers who tap traditional artisans help preserve the jewelry-making tradition of the locality. Ethical companies also ensure that there are no child miners or workers in their operations. 

How to Choose Well

1.     Prioritize quality, not quantity.

Advertisements on every form of media can pressure you to buy more than what you need. Adopting a slow fashion mindset starts with buying less. Sustainability advocates promote the use of the "30 Wears" test to curb impulsive buying. Ask yourself: "Will I be able to wear this (ring, bracelet, pair of earrings, necklace) at least 30 times?" The limit can be a little higher or lower, depending on your lifestyle.

Sustainable pieces may cost you more. But, because they're timeless and durable, they are wiser investments. You'd unlikely replace them any time soon unless they get lost or stolen. Some brands carry a certification from gemological institutes that validate the quality and authenticity of their diamonds, gemstones, and pearls.

2.     Check for ethical sourcing.

yin yang rose quartz gold ring

Ethical brands are transparent about their gemstones' country of origin. They source from mines supported and monitored by agencies that identify and address human rights concerns in the supply chain. Ethical jewelers help take steps in reducing risks in the areas of safety, health, and working hours.

We only source the precious metals and gemstones—including hand-picked moldavite that's indigenous to the Czech Republic—from legally established suppliers. Our veteran Balinese artisans work on these olive green-colored tektites by hand, producing pieces unique to ioola.

Shop the picture: ring: Yin Yang ring

3.     Look into its production process.

Soft jewelry doesn't only come from non-conflict areas, companies that sell them also use low-impact processing during production. This means that the mining, the cutting, and the other stages involved in making the final product have minimal impact on the land and the environment. For instance, there should be no cyanide or mercury—both of which are pollutants—used in extracting sustainable gold.

It's best to conduct research to verify if a brand truly abides by sustainable or ethical standards. Visit the company's website and reading its "About Us" and "Our Story" sections. This way, you can determine if the company has facts to back up its claims or is just greenwashing or making false claims.

4.     Study its pricing and corporate responsibility.

The best ethical brands pay workers beyond the minimum wage, with some providing other benefits including healthcare. There are those that make jewelry on a made-to-order basis so they don't have to spend for the storage of extra inventory stocks. This can help brands offer their products at a lower price.

ioola honors its artisans by not only making sure that their income makes their families financially sufficient but by also providing them safe working environments so they can nurture their talents.

The abandoned street dogs of Bali are also very dear to our hearts. In collaboration with local charities, part of our sales proceeds go towards feeding and rehoming the island's multitude of sick and stray dogs.

How ioola Makes Its Jewelry

At ioola, we make sure that every step in our jewelry-making is meticulous and that our products are of the highest quality, down to the last detail.

Every exquisitely designed piece starts with a concept or sketch, which our sculptor turns into a prototype using 3D printing. This model helps us assess whether the design can stand up to the complexity of jewelry-making. Once the design is finalized, our sculptor produces a master mold of vulcanized gum, which is used in making a rubber mold.

Shop the picture: Square link necklace: Darling, you are different, Twist rope chain necklace: For the love of gold

Our Bali-based gold and silversmiths use engraving tools to make intricate shapes and designs come to life, before cleaning and polishing each piece, to ensure a skin-safe finish on all our metal pieces.

ioola jewelry pieces are stylishly minimalist – they defy trends. Just like the inspiring and confident woman who chooses to wear them.

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Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

Anna Wintour