Inspiring Interviews

Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco

When it comes to sustainability in fashion, many people don’t think about jewelry. But just like fast fashion there can be many issues with the way stones and metals are traditionally sourced and handled. We wanted to learn more about shopping more for jewelry so we enlisted the help of expert jeweler Angela Monaco to offer some advice. 
November 2021
Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco
Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco

Angela Monaco is the founder of Angela Monaco Jewelry and the owner of Ritual Shoppe in Philadelphia, PA where she sells her own collection and curates about 33 other independent brands that share values similar to hers including producing ethical and sustainable pieces. She’s been honing her craft since 2009 and we’re excited to share that she is currently working to open her own fine jewelry store. It’s set to open right before the holidays – December 2021! 

Angela was kind enough to chat with us about all things ethical and sustainable jewelry and offer some practical tips to help you shop smart and find pieces you’ll cherish for many years to come.

PF:

What characteristics should someone look for when searching for ethical jewelry companies?

AM:

When you’re searching for ethical jewelry companies there are 5 main things you’ll want to consider. 

1. Gemstone and Diamond Sourcing
Ask where their gemstones and diamonds (if they’re using them) are sourced from. A good ethical jeweler will be able to provide detailed information about the stones they use and where they’re from.  

2. Metal Sourcing 
Like the stones, metal sourcing can also be done unethically and unsustainably. Ask what metals a jeweler uses and where they source from.

3. Business Ownership
Small local businesses give back to their communities through the creation of jobs and paying local taxes. When you shop from a small independent business you keep more of your money in your community.  

 4. Production Location
Just because the shop is in your town doesn’t mean the jewelry is produced in-house. Some stores will work with metalsmiths or jewelers who are out of the state or even the country. 

5. Clear information
Is the salesperson or shop owner giving you honest and transparent information? If they seem to waver in their story or can’t answer some of these questions that might be a red flag.

Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco
Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco
PF:

For someone shopping for an engagement ring – what should they look for when trying to find the perfect sustainable ring within a budget?

AM:

This is a great question and my answer will differ depending on the person’s budget and goals. Here are a few things you should consider at each price point. 

If you have a limited budget (under $3,000):
You won’t have as many choices in terms of the stones you can use, but this shouldn’t stop you if you want to shop sustainably. Consider a lab-created stone called Moissanite. It’s not a diamond but it’s still really sparkly. Some people actually think it has more sparkle than a diamond and is much more cost-effective.

If your budget is mid-range  ($3,000 - $5,000):
You can try a lab-grown diamond. These are still somewhat controversial in the industry but they are certainly more sustainable. At Angela Monaco Jewelry, we source from a company that uses solar power, The Diamond Foundry.

For those with a Higher budget (<$5,000):
If you have a larger budget, you can go with a genuine diamond. Genuine, ethically sourced diamonds are the rarest. I recommend sourcing from Canada or Australia where they have different laws and higher standards than what you’ll find in Africa (where a lot of diamonds come from). 

At my shop, when you come in to talk about what you’re looking for we can provide resources and recommendations for all of these options, so that you can decide which one would be best for you.

PF:

What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start switching to more ethical jewelry options? How can they start small?

AM:

1. Get curious and be willing to learn 
You can read blog posts like the ones on my site and take a look at the GIA website. There are also some good podcasts and explainers on IGTV. It can be a little painful to learn but it’s worth being educated before you buy something as expensive as fine jewelry. 

2. It’s never too late 
Even if your family has always bought really commercial jewelry from big box stores, it’s never too late to start shopping more sustainably.

3. It’s not going to happen overnight
You don’t need to throw away everything you have because it’s not sustainable (actually, that’s the least sustainable thing you can do). For your next birthday, anniversary or big occasion that you (or your significant other) wants to mark with a special piece of jewelry, look at some sustainable options and build your collection from there. If you’re local to Pennsylvania, we have some amazing options right in our backyard. 

Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco
Ethical Options for Wedding and Engagement Jewelry featuring Angela Monaco
PF:

Okay, since we’re a pajama company, we have to ask you about your sleepwear preferences and nighttime routines! Let’s start with pajamas. 

AM:

Matching sets or mix and match? 
Matching Sets!

Slippers - Yes or no?
Yes!

What’s the one part of your nighttime routine you never skip?
My skincare routine. I always wash my face and apply moisturizer. 

What’s always on your bedside table?
Lavender oil, the hatch alarm clock, and a sleep mask.  

Night owl or early riser?
I’m a 7:30 am riser, but I try to get up at 6. 

What’s your favorite breakfast in bed?
I like my coffee right away.

Photo credit: @joannanowak.photography

 If you’re looking for sustainable jewelry for the holidays or want to shop for another upcoming special occasion visit Angela at Angela Monaco Jewelry or Ritual Shoppe and follow along on Instagram for more inspiration!

Do you have a favorite sustainable jeweler or piece of jewelry? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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