Guide to ethical jewelry

I am Manon, creator of Manora Bijoux since 2018. For several months, Manora Bijoux has entered the world of jewelry to offer you jewelry for life and mark your most beautiful events. This is the opportunity to provide you with a responsible jewelry consumption guide to see more clearly the various practices and names.

What do we call “responsible jewelry”?

1. Ethics in jewelry

The state of affairs in the jewelry sector is not the greenest. Traceability is made difficult through intermediaries in the production chain, and sourcing is often opaque. This trend has evolved towards greater transparency in recent years, at the request of more responsible jewelers and consumers.

Precious metals are almost exhausted resources and their extraction continues to cause damage to humans (child labor, underpaid and dangerous) and to the environment (pollution, excessive need for water, deforestation).

In this context, how can we combine the pleasure of wearing beautiful jewelry without destroying our ecosystem? What are the most virtuous practices in jewelry?

Local crafts

As a craftswoman, handmade and proximity are for me the first criteria of choice, whether in jewelry (or even for food or textiles). For what ?

Favoring craftsmanship to the detriment of large companies and their industrial processes is a first step towards responsible consumption of jewelry . The Slow Jewelry movement, opposed to fast fashion, promotes buying “less but better”. Concretely ? A quality piece, made in small quantities (see custom-made) and handmade by an artisan jeweler.

  • Craftsmanship and mastery of know-how . At Manora Bijoux, for example, we create our own pendants and rings by hand . They are not purchased from manufacturers or made in 3D like most jewelry on the market today. It is a desire that is both artistic and responsible. And above all, this guarantees its originality without meeting X number of people with the same piece of jewelry as you.
  • Manufacturing in small quantities . It makes it possible to limit over-production and the use of industrial resources.
  • A privileged and human contact: it is easier to trust a person whose job (and passion!) is rather than a large company for which your purchase does not matter more than another. By contacting a craftsman, it is also their story and their unique touch that you are asking for.

Your purchase contributes to the development of a business on a human scale and to the local economic fabric. Promoting a local creator rather than a mass-market brand will, in my eyes, be more virtuous.

Recycled and labeled Gold

What about jewelry components, metals?

Recycled gold does not extract any new resources and reuses existing ones: workshop scraps, electronic, dental equipment, etc. The Responsible Jewelery Council's code of practice aims to promote responsible practices, by implementing company policies that respect ethical, social and environmental issues. Manora Bijoux only works with CoC Responsible Jewelery Council certified refiners.

Some labels manage their own gold mines (Fairmined, Fairtrade) and monitor workers' conditions more closely.

Second hand and transformations

Reusing existing jewelry, transforming a family jewel, reusing stones and remelting gold... all good practices in keeping with the times! Whenever possible, reusing what you already have, like recycling metals, is the most ethical solution possible. This is an option that we offer in the tailor-made service .

2. Precious metal alloys

The possession and manufacture of precious metals is regulated by customs. In France, not just anyone can sell or make precious jewelry. The activity is very regulated in our country. Let's take a look at the types of precious metals that exist.


The most common gold grades in France are 9 and 18 carat gold . An alloy is made up of different metals, fused together.

  • 9 carat or 375/1000 gold, or 37.5% pure gold. This alloy is more accessible. It is paler in color.
  • 14 carat or 585/1000 gold, or 58.5% gold. This alloy is more common in the United States.
  • 18 carat or 750/1000 gold, or 75% pure gold. It is the most resistant and durable alloy.

24 carat gold corresponds to solid gold. It is rarely used in jewelry because pure gold is very soft and deforms quickly. This is why we favor 18 carat gold (75% gold + 5% silver + 20% copper) in luxury jewelry.

The identification of precious metals is guaranteed by hallmarks . Affixed by the manufacturer as well as an official customs body, the hallmark makes it possible to trace each piece of jewelry and to ensure the quality sold.


Silver has the advantage of being a very accessible noble metal, although more fragile than gold. There are many alloys: Silver 800, 830, 895, 900, 950 and above all, silver 925:

  • 925 silver, also called “Sterling” silver, is 92.5% silver - The remaining 7.5% is copper and zinc.

Silver is a “living” metal. It develops a patina and becomes matte over time. The advantage of this metal is that a simple cleaning allows it to regain its shine from the first day.

Other precious metals

Platinum is rarer than gold, and also more expensive. Confused with silver for its gray-white color, it is almost unalterable and therefore constitutes a precious metal. Likewise, we find palladium and rhodium (used for rhodium plating) more rarely.

3. Gems

Like metals, precious stones - or gems - are the cause of numerous social and environmental damage, both at the level of extraction in mines and in stone cutting workshops, often located in the four corners of the world. In this context, the traceability of gems is made difficult once again.

  • The “Kimberley Process” is an organization aimed at reducing the existence of diamonds from conflict zones. However, extraction is not regulated at the environmental level.
  • Synthetic diamonds, or laboratory diamonds, can be an alternative to mining, however the carbon footprint remains to be measured because the manufacturers are generally on the other side of the world.
  • Fairtrade gems, leading to better remuneration and safety for miners.
  • The RJC - Responsible Jewelery Council Code of Practice (seen previously)
  • Upcycling. Once again, recycling is an ethical solution thanks to the reuse of existing gems on old jewelry.

To create my creations, I am accompanied by several expert gemologists . They are fully aware of the issues related to ethics. Some suppliers are RJC certified. Others even travel directly to the mines to obtain supplies at the source and avoid middlemen. Real enthusiasts!

High-fancy jewelry

The appellations

The different names are confusing and it is easy to get confused.

  • Gilded with fine gold ” corresponds to a layer of 1 micron of gold which covers the jewel.
  • Gold plated ” has a layer of gold of at least 3 microns.
  • Vermeil ” is a layer of gold of at least 5 microns on a silver jewelry. Vermeil is a name for a semi-precious metal.

This layer of gold covering the jewel also varies in its purity : it can be composed of a 14, 18 or 24 carat alloy. For example, our earrings are made of brass gilded with fine 24 carat gold.

Precious or fancy, how to choose?

Your research will naturally be guided by your budget. Indeed, 18-carat gold jewelry will of course not have the same price as gold-plated brass jewelry. We must therefore ask ourselves the question of what use this room will have.

  • This piece of jewelry marks a special event : in this case, it is better to pay the price and quality for assured durability.
  • You never want to take off your jewelry: the same, we will favor precious metals.
  • This piece of jewelry is original, to be worn from time to time : high-fancy jewelry is then suitable. It has more occasional use because its composition is more fragile. It is of course recommended to contact after-sales service for jewelry maintenance.

With all these elements, I hope that you are able to better choose your jewelry of tomorrow, in all conscience!

See you soon,