If you are shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift, forget about flowers and chocolates. It’s no secret: Everyone really wants jewelry, especially sparkling with natural diamonds.
From hearts to hoops, the latest designs range from minimalist and edgy to colorful, playful, and symbolic. There’s something for every person’s style and budget.
With so many great jewelry choices, it can be hard to decide on the best gift for your partner, friend, or sister (Valentine’s Day is no longer just a couple’s thing). We made it easier for you with our list of 12 socially conscious designers who are creating chic pieces that are thoughtfully made.
“Gifting friends and loved ones isn’t just about a beautiful item, but also the meaning behind it,” said Italian designer Francesca Villa, who is known for her colorful and whimsical pieces. “Choosing to purchase from brands and designers that use a responsible approach is one part of the overall story that can make an individual piece so special to the person receiving it.”
How do you know if a brand’s jewelry is made in a socially responsible way?
One way is to ask if they are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). Villa’s business is RJC certified, which means that it adheres to a long list of responsible practices encompassing the entire supply chain, from the mine to retail. Villa’s jewelry is made in her own Italian workshop, where she manages the entire process, from sourcing stones to packaging, to ensure her business and her partners are aligned with her values. That’s a purchase you can feel good about.
Pippa Small is another designer committed to making jewelry with heart and soul. “Our approach to creating every collection is centered around generating secure livelihoods in areas of conflict around the world and encouraging and sustaining the communities we work with,” said the London-based designer. That sounds like a lofty goal, but you can read on her website how she’s enlisted craftspeople in conflict zones like Afghanistan to contribute to her collection.
“Each piece has a story to tell, giving a voice to the highly skilled goldsmiths, stone cutters, and artisans who bring their local material, cultures, and traditions to life in every design,” said Small, who uses mainly old-cut diamonds in her jewelry.
British goldsmith Jessie Thomas handmakes all her pieces using recycled or fairtrade gold and “responsibly sourced diamonds,” which she buys from the same diamond dealer that her father has worked with for over 30 years. “If I’m building a whole piece around a stone,” she said, “then it matters to me that it’s unique and special, and ultimately responsibly sourced.”
SHOP NOW: White Space Pear Diamond Continuity Ring, $2,670
SHOP NOW: Boochier JUMBO YELLOW GOLD DIAMOND HEART PENDANT with ORANGE & PINK SAPPHIRES, $5,000
SHOP NOW: The One I Love The Diamond Pear Pendant, $26,00o
SHOP NOW: Francesca Villa White Love Hearts Ring, $5,150
SHOP NOW: Renna Rose Quartz Dew Drop Earrings, $2,000
SHOP NOW: PippaSmall 18kt Gold Foil Back Diamond Double Drop Earrings
SHOP NOW: Liv Luttrell Yellow gold with east-west set marquise diamonds, $31,718
SHOP NOW: Jessie Thomas Larger scalloped diamond hoops, $2,855
There’s more to jewelry design than meets the eye.
The jewelry house Chopard, also RJC-certified, produces its signature Happy Hearts collection (a favorite for Valentine’s Day), in 18-karat ethically produced rose gold. What does that mean? Chopard sources its gold exclusively from traceable and verified artisanal gold miners and from RJC-certified refineries.
As more designers seek transparent and responsible sources, there’s been a focus on recycled gold and diamonds. While the fashion industry has been touting the circular economy for years, jewelry is inherently “circular” because people have always reused gold and diamonds. Nobody is throwing away old precious jewels.
Some of today’s hottest designers are delivering the pieces everyone wants, made in a way we can all feel good about. Boochier, Renna, and Whitespace all use recycled or traceable gold. Liv Lutrell uses gold and diamonds from RJC-approved sources or recycled, fairtrade, and antique. British designer Alison Macleod uses traceable Single Mine Origin and Fairtrade gold, which works exclusively with mines that employ ethical practices. Designer Katherine Kim, founder of KATKIM in Los Angeles, is a member of Ethical Metalsmiths, an industry group dedicated to responsible jewelry industry practices through education and action.
Aymer Maria’s new Malian collection features ancient pyramid-shaped designs made with recycled yellow gold and Botswanamark™ baguette-cut diamonds. Botswanamark is a provenance program that tracks the diamonds through the entire custody chain, from the mine to the consumer, to ensure it’s made responsibly.
These eye-catching designs, inspired by the ancient indigenous Sudano-Sahelian architecture in West Africa, are intriguing for their innovative use of gold and diamonds, but once you read how these pieces benefit the local communities from which they are mined and cut, they make an even more meaningful gift — perfect for Valentine’s Day.