Is your Jewellery Vegan Friendly?

A guest blog by Leila of Lilac Tree.

3 Ways Lilac Tree is veganising the Jewellery Industry

As a vegan, you’re probably so used to meticulously checking the ingredients list in your food and beauty products (seriously, how does milk manage to sneak into so many things?) that it’s become second-nature.  But do you ever think about whether the jewellery you wear is vegan?  As a vegan, when I started my jewellery brand, Lilac Tree, in 2017, I wanted to make sure that every single piece of jewellery I made was cruelty-free and eco-friendly.  But I was shocked to find that so many of the tools, techniques and materials traditionally used in the jewellery industry didn’t align with my values.  So I’ve made it my mission to create jewellery that vegans can be proud to wear.

Here’s how!


This might be an area that you’re more comfortable with.  After all, you probably already avoid materials like leather, wool and fur (amongst others) when shopping for clothes.  But you should be taking the same care with your jewellery, too.  Shell and coral are traditional materials that have been used for centuries to make jewellery, both of which I have refused to use at all in my business. Coral, as a marine animal (not a plant), should be left exactly where

it is – in beautiful reefs that despite only covering 1% of the ocean floor, support 25% of the ocean’s biodiversity. Some types of amber that contain preserved insects (think Jurassic Park, but without the velociraptors!) might not be strictly vegan, either.


Traditionally, rawhide, leather and wool are all used in jewellery-making.  But in 2021, it’s just not good enough to say “that’s how it’s always been done”.  Instead of a rawhide mallet, I use a nylon version to shape and form rings on my stainless steel mandrel.  My bench skin, which is attached to the bottom of my bench to collect metal debris and offcuts (all of which I reuse or recycle), is made from leatherette, not leather – it’s actually far more durable, so I am also helping the environment by producing less waste.  And the tools that I use to

polish finished jewellery are not made of wool, they’re made from rubber, cotton, or cotton-based felt.  They work perfectly, which is just as well, as it takes a lot of work to get that mirror finish!


Speaking of polishing, I’m ashamed to say that when I first started making jewellery, I had no idea that the abrasive polishing compounds I used contain animal fats!  It just never crossed my mind, but I’m SO glad I did my research.  I’ve since switched to a water-based brand that is not only vegan, but actually gives me so much more choice – bonus!  And it’s also important to ensure that even if my process are vegan, that they won’t inadvertently harm animals in one way or another.  For example, jewellers use a warm acid bath to clean jewellery

while it’s being made – we call it “pickle”.  Citric acid is the best chemical to use as pickle – it’s natural and non-toxic.  But copper deposits from the jewellery being cleaned make the solution extremely harmful to wildlife.  Disposing of it in a way that is mindful of the environment (I neutralise the acid with bicarbonate of soda before letting it evaporate in my studio) means that I can be sure that my jewellery does no harm.

Knowledge is power – now you know what makes jewellery vegan, you can feel confident asking the right questions of jewellers to make sure that their materials, tools and process align with your own ethics and values.  Look out for the Vegan Traders Union logo and registration number on your favourite jeweller’s website, as this will give you peace of mind that they are a verified vegan-owned and run business.  And if you’d like to check out my range of vegan jewellery, you can visit my website and shop to your heart’s content – there’s no reason not to treat yourself!


Leila (she/her) creates Lilac Tree’s ethical and sustainable everyday luxury jewellery by hand in her studio in west London, inspired by her passionate connection to nature.  Her designs always start with the stone – each one is selected with delicate precision and is thoughtfully incorporated into precious metal to create contemporary heirlooms that people can be proud to wear.

Lilac Tree Website



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