How to Buy Ethical Jewellery

With the impact that our love of fast fashion has on the planet under more scrutiny than ever, investing in ethical jewellery that’s designed to last is touted as one answer. Jewellery passed down from generation to generation is nothing new. Sarah Hutchings, the director of Orsini Fine Jewellery, often sees clients looking to replace heirloom jewellery that has been lost or stolen. “It’s heartbreaking because these special pieces have significance or a memory attached to them.” She admits that replacing heirloom jewellery is often difficult because it can be impossible to recreate pieces.

However, it is possible to invest in high-quality jewellery that has been designed to stand the test of time. Hutchings, who specialises in diamonds and handcrafted Italian jewellery, says she will often recommend using 18-carat gold because the alloy mix is predominantly gold and will last for years if well cared for. Armed with the right expert advice, investing in a piece of jewellery that can be passed down through generations is the easy part. As Hutchings points out, we’re more conscious of the impact that our purchasing choices have on the planet.

“Jewellery consumers have been told many stories about their most treasured pieces. The history of a piece can add romance and character to a purchase or gift,” she says. “As a result, human rights and environmental issues related to the gem and jewellery industry supply chain are gaining attention.” Unregulated mines wreak havoc on the environment; forced labour and child labour are still rife in diamond and gemstone-rich regions such as Africa and India. The sustainable and ethical efforts companies make are undoubtedly playing a role in how we spend our money.

Hutchings has noticed a shift; she says many clients ask about ethical jewellery and the responsible sourcing of diamonds and gemstones. Hutchings favours diamonds that are sourced with credible laboratories that use certified laser inscribing on the girdle (the thin perimeter) of the stone, such as GIA or HRD. Many of the brands Hutchings stocks – including Gucci and Pomellato – are members of the Responsible Jewellery Council. “One hundred per cent of the gold and diamonds in their products are conflict-free,” she explains. The industry has and continues to put regulatory systems in place to make supply chains more transparent – such as the Kimberley Process, a United Nations initiative dedicated to reducing the flow of conflict diamonds.

But investing in an ethically, sustainably sourced natural gemstone or diamond isn’t straightforward. Challenging retailers about where they source their diamonds and gemstones is crucial, says Hutchings. Currently, she explains, it’s highly unlikely you will know exactly where your diamond originated from if it has been certified by a big laboratory. But that could be set to change: diamond giant De Beers recently unveiled plans to use blockchain technology to trace gems every time they change hands. The asset–tracking platform, Tracr, a highly secure digital register with the ability to create a tamper-proof, permanent record of all diamond will be rolled out to the industry later this year. Until then, laboratory-grown diamonds and gemstones seem the obvious solution for those wanting to invest in 100 per cent ethical, sustainable and traceable jewellery. Hutchings says while they are environmentally friendlier, they still have a stigma. “I have stunning pink and orange synthetic sapphires and a number of synthetic rubies currently in store, and I tell my clients that they are laboratory-made,” she says. Despite explaining they are environmentally friendly and more affordable, she says the clients’ reaction often reveals the allure has gone. “You do not have to dig up the earth to find them, but they are still deemed as being artificial by some.”

London-based Kiwi jewellery maker Ella Drake, of Monarc Jewellery, who has made the decision to turn her back on mined diamonds entirely to focus on ethical jewellery, thinks the perception is starting to change. “The thought of ‘sustainability’ is beginning to permeate every facet of how we consume, produce and live,” she says. As a result, she believes all jewellers in the modern market, as experts in their field, have a responsibility to present customers with an array of more ethical and sustainable choices. “Mined gemstones and diamonds, in particular, carry with them considerable hidden costs. These are in the form of human suffering and exploitation of human rights or the environment,” she explains. For her Monarc Jewellery creations, Drake uses sustainably minded, lab-grown diamonds with a zero-carbon footprint. “They come directly from a foundry located in San Francisco, where a team recreates the environment in which nature forms diamonds using solar power,” she explains. In fact, Blood Diamond star Leonard DiCaprio was so impressed by San Francisco-based The Diamond Foundry that he’s now both a fan and an investor.

So can a synthetic diamond really pass for the real deal? “A lab can only recreate the conditions that a diamond is naturally formed in,” says Drake. “But it will still grow as uniquely as one from the earth and with all of the same characteristics, like clarity, colour and carat size.” Each diamond is graded by GIA gemologists just like natural diamonds are and buyers receive a diamond certificate too. “We are not changing the product, we are simply changing the environment in which a diamond grows,” explains Drake. “Above-ground diamonds will be passed down from generation to generation with an added story of why they were chosen over earth-mined diamonds. It brings sustainability and transparency to luxury and heartfelt jewellery that typically signifies some of the important moments of people’s lives.”

Find out how to apply the concept of mindfulness to your wardrobe right here with our five tips to be a more mindful fashionista. 

The Best Beauty to Try Now

MiNDFOOD beauty editor, Nicole Saunders, rounds up the best beauty to try now.

As much as I love a thorough skincare routine, I’ve never been a big toner user and failed to get aboard the essence bandwagon of more recent years. That was until I came across Dior‘s latest addition to the Capture Youth family, New Skin Effect Enzyme Solution. Powered with exfoliating papaya enzymes, the resurfacing water gently clarifies and hydrates skin. Rumour has it that it’s also a favourite for celebrity make-up artist Daniel Martin – the man behind Megan Markle’s wedding-day beauty. 

When it comes to nature, beauty can be found anywhere which Jo Malone London reminds us this season. The quintessentially British fragrance house has turned to the often overlooked flora of the English countryside as the inspiration of its latest limited-edition collection, Wild Flowers & Weeds. Intoxicating Cade & Cedarwood Cologne is just one of the scents from the collection and the slightly smokey fragrance is just perfect for cooler winter days. 

The iconic YSL Touche Éclat family gets a new member this month. New Touche Éclat High Cover features the same illuminating powers of Touche Éclat Radiant Touch but with the addition of natural-looking extra coverage. It’s the perfect beauty essential to pop in your handbag for on-the-go touch-ups. 

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum – pronounced boom boom – Cream (from Mecca Cosmetica and Maxima) has garnered a cult following for good reason. Not only does in smell sensational, the but the all-over body cream is also formulated with guarana extract, acai oil and coconut oil and helps skin appear firmer. With its delightful scent that will quickly transport you somewhere tropical, it really is the perfect antidote to those impending winter blues. 

Vitamin C should be included in any serious skincare routine and Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream (from MECCA Cosmetica) is the perfect pick-me-up for the delicate eye area. Five different types of Vitamin C and a nourishing blend of peptides work to restore radiance, hydration and youthfulness to the eye area.

Sometimes all you need to achieve the barely there beauty look complete is one multi-tasking make-up star. There’s not a lot Shiseido Aura Dew can’t do – use it as a highlighter to give skin a hint of radiance, illuminate your eyelids with it, or mix it with your favourite lip gloss to create a lustrous finish.

Dior has done it again as in-house make-up maestro Peter Phillips has combined the best of both worlds to create new Dior Addict Stellar Shine. The balm-like formulation glides on to provide a serious colour payoff that nourishes and hydrates lips right around the clock making it just perfect for winter which tends to dry out lips. 

Discover the best beauty to fend off blue light right here and the best beauty to make sure your foundation stays put right here.