Ethical shopping doesn’t have to be expensive.
Sometimes it’s worth it to spend extra to ensure your product was made with fair wages, safe working environments, and sustainable practices. Sometimes ethical companies can’t compete with the ultra-low, sweatshop-produced prices we’re used to.
But sometimes you’re on a budget, and you just can’t afford ethical price tags.
Or so you think.
I’m here to tell you that it is possible to buy ethical on a budget. You just have to know where to look.
Ethical jewelry is a great example of this. There’s a huge variety of ethical jewelry brands out there, with a wide range of styles and price points. Today, I’ve curated a selection from five affordable brands. Each brand meets my criteria for fair work, social impact, and sustainability, so you can feel great about your purchase. And with an average price of $27 per piece, you can feel good about your budget too.
In their own words, 31 Bits aims to create a “joyful” work environment for their global artisans. They provide fair wages, safe workplaces, healthcare, mentorship, and even microfinance loans. 31 Bits also strives to preserve artisan tradition and use locally-sourced materials, further boosting the community impact.
I think “joyful” is a good word to describe their products, too. With bright beads and sunny designs, it’s hard to imagine a bad day in these beauties. My favorites: the Mama Bird Necklace ($45, center), the Hari Earrings ($32, top right), and the Melah Earrings ($28, top left), which come in nine gorgeous colors.
ABLE focuses on empowering women and ending generational poverty in America and abroad. They recently started publishing their wages—a radical notion even for “transparent” companies—and campaigning for other brands to do the same. Their ultimate goal is to turn an industry that often exploits women into one that protects and empowers them.
I love that ABLE’s jewelry is minimal and timeless but also bold somehow. Each feels like a signature piece. I have a pair of their Tonal Studs ($34, bottom right) and wear them constantly. I’m also smitten with the customizable Delicate Word Ring ($38, bottom left) and the Peak Necklace ($48, far left).
Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages was an early pioneer in the fair-trade movement, and they have since expanded to support 20,000 artisans in 30 countries. Besides offering fair wages and safe working conditions, they also aim to be eco-friendly by using handmade techniques and recycled materials.
Ten Thousand Villages has some of the least expensive jewelry on this list, and also some of the most unique. I’m fascinated by the Connection Necklace ($30, center), which is made of recycled circuit board pieces. I also love the charming Star-Catcher Necklace ($19, far left) and the understated Stake Your Claim Earrings ($19, top right).
Although largely known for their vintage-inspired dresses, Mata Traders also sells fair-trade jewelry. Their pieces are handmade in India, where they ensure fair wages and labor practices.
Mata Traders offers a young, fun, and global look. I love their Southwest-inspired Santa Fe Earrings ($24, bottom right) and Nevada Earrings ($13, bottom left). They also have a great selection of cuffs like the Echo ($26, top right).
Hailing from Canada, Just One is a small brand that partners with artisans in Uganda and Kenya. Their goal is to create fair-wage jobs in areas of high unemployment and poverty.
Just One’s pieces have an effortless, rustic style. I gifted my sister the Grey and Silver Chevron Earrings ($18 CAD, bottom right), and I swear she looks just like Joanna Gaines in them. I also love the Small Brass Crescent Necklace ($35 CAD, left) and the flirty Brass and Tassel Earrings ($24 CAD, middle).
There you have it—five places to buy a meaningful piece of jewelry that won’t break the bank. Although I’ve bought some of these for myself, I especially love to give ethical jewelry as a gift. It’s often very unique and has a great story behind it. Plus, every piece you buy creates a better world for the people who made it. Truly a gift that keeps on giving!
Some of the products featured in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase through my links, you pay the same price, but I receive a small commission. I only link to products that I own or would personally recommend. For more information, see my full affiliate disclosure.
Images courtesy of 31 Bits, ABLE, Ten Thousand Villages, Mata Traders, and Just One.