The most eco friendly jewelry you can find will be that that is created by responsible companies that use conflict-free jewels and recycled metals. Gold and other metal mining is extremely hard on the environment, so recycled options are best. Check out Brilliant Earth and some eco friendly business links to get you started!
Gemstones created in a lab rather than mined are an eco-friendly alternative, as are cultured pearls.
Another type of jewelry with little or no environmental impact is used or antique jewelry. It uses even less energy than recycled jewelry because it does not have to be melted down or processed in any way. Antique jewelry also has the advantage of ususally being one-of-a-kind.
Zultanite is an ethically sourced gem found only in Turkey. Though it is softer than a diamond, it is a great alternative. It is also true that lab-created gems have a smaller carbon footprint than their mined counterpart. Just be sure to purchase from an ethical company that uses only genuine gems such as http://www.C5company.com.
If you are going to get a mined gemstone, look for gemstones mined in the US. Gems like garnets, sapphires, rubys, opals, quartz, topaz and turquoise, among others, are mined in the US. Environmental costs of shipping can be reduced by choosing local gems, and looking for mines that make an effort to be sustainable.
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