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Jewelry Gifts That Give Back
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but they're probably best left for special occasions like proposals and milestone anniversaries. For one thing, the diamond industry has been linked to environmental devastation and human rights abuses. Plus, let’s face it, even eco-friendly, non-exploitative sparklers can be a little out of reach for most wallets.
Benefits of fair trade
The solution? Fair trade jewelry gifts. Unlike the mass-produced trinkets you'll find at many mainstream retailers, fair trade products are handmade and unique, not to mention beautiful. Best of all, purchasing fair trade-certified jewelry ensures that the artists — often women — are paid a fair wage for the pieces they produce, relative to other skills and trades within their local economy.
"Living and working so closely to our producers reminds us constantly that even the smallest buying decision can be transformed into a significant impact when channeled correctly," says Greg Hope, who co-founded HOPE, Fair Fashion in Action, a fair trade company based in Thailand. "And the tangible effects grow exponentially when there is a commitment to fair trade."
And, if you've shied away from fair trade items in the past for fear of high prices, take another look: Most of the gorgeous gifts listed below won't set you back more than $70. That's a small price to pay to know that your gift will not only put a smile on your favorite female's face, but also help give back to those in need.
For understated elegance, silver is the way to go. The Silver Bangle and Silver Pendant from Mitra Bali, a nonprofit organization that employs more than 1,000 men and women on the Indonesian island of Bali, is handcrafted using a technique known as Jawan (which means "seed" or "dot"), in which tiny sterling silver pieces are applied by hand and then polished to perfection.
From HOPE, Fair Fashion in Action, the Swirl Necklace and Earring set is made by fair trade artisans from Thailand's Karen hill tribe and hand polished using rice husks. And for the woman who favors florals, the dainty sterling Vintage Rose Necklace and Earring set will best any bouquet.
Combine her love of nature with her love of sparkle by presenting her with the Birch Leaf and Antique Gold Necklace and Earring set. Crafted in California, it’s made using recycled glass beads and real preserved birch leaves. Animal lovers will covet HOPE's Asian-inspired Silver Koi Necklace with a sterling fish pendant leaping below strands of waxed cotton.
On a budget? Mitra Bali's printed resin Batik Bracelets — featuring a leaf and flower motif in a regal black and gold color scheme — are sure to please without breaking the bank.
Does your female friend already have a collection that rivals the Queen's Crown Jewels? Help her corral all those bracelets and baubles with attractive organization options. For a natural look, get her the Sono Wood Carved Jewelry Tree (Mitra Bali), hand carved from sustainably grown plantation sono wood, or the HOPE Leaf Jewelry Tree.
The Buddha Hand, also from HOPE, is a work of art that doubles as a ring and necklace holder. Carved from sustainable, fast-growing acacia wood, the hand gesture, called Mudra, is a sacred symbol of the connected nature of human consciousness and the unification of the individual with the world. And, from Tara Projects, a fair trade company in Delhi, the Mirrored Hooks and Vanity Trays with beveled edges are a posh way to help her organize her favorite ornaments.