Antique Jewellery and Sustainability

Why is Sustainability in Jewellery Important?


The amount of energy which can be expended in the creation of a piece of jewellery is far greater than most people realise. Before the jeweller begins to ply their craft to transform precious materials into a beautiful piece to wear the materials themselves will have racked up a carbon footprint, and modern industrial practises for the extraction of these materials are seldom environmentally friendly.

Precious gemstones and metals are extracted from the earth via huge mining operations that often have a devastating effect on the ecosystems of the places where they are located. It is often the case that these mines are located in developing nations, meaning that the impact they have on nature often goes hand in hand with exploitative processes that actively harm the miners working on site.

Even when the mining process is as ethical and sustainable as possible gemstones, gold, silver and platinum still need to be refined before they can be used. Ore must be smelted into usable metal, introducing a carbon cost, and gemstones must be removed from the host rock in which they have formed before being cut to shape. Gems such as diamond, ruby and sapphire are incredibly hard, and require a great deal of energy to fashion into usable stones.

How is Vintage and Antique Jewellery More Sustainable?


Many pieces of antique jewellery, in particular those from the early Victorian period or earlier, predate modern industrialisation. The heavy machinery used in modern mining had not been invented, meaning that at every stage in its production it is responsible for less environmental damage than modern jewellery.

These smaller scale operations were far from perfect, and modernisation has made the process substantially safer, but it is crucial to recognise that any carbon cost for an antique piece of jewellery has already been paid. When you buy an antique piece that item will have passed through many owners before it came to you. Although it is likely that these previous owners will have cared for the item, repairing, maintaining and cleaning it, they will not have had to harm the environment to do so.

With greater awareness of the need for sustainable practices many people have begun to adopt a “make do and mend” attitude. Reusable plastic bottles mean a reduced need for single-use disposable versions, repairing clothing means less need to produce new garments and limits harmful emissions and waste. This ethos is perfectly suited to jewellery.

Rather than choosing to buy something new and accept the cost to the planet you can find an enduring piece which has persisted for generations. Taking on an antique or vintage piece means conserving a piece of the past whilst also choosing to opt out of any environmentally unfriendly activity.


If you are interested in learning more about antique and vintage jewellery why not take a look at the other articles in our Advice Centre and Blog?

At Laurelle Antique Jewellery we are committed to providing the very best examples of antique and vintage jewellery from the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco periods.

If you have any questions about the pieces which we sell feel free to get in touch on England: 0333 700 4500 or send us an email via Our team is always happy to help!