Vegan Crafting Made Easy: Making Vegan Jewelry

You might not think of animal products when you think jewelry, but there are more sneaky animal components to jewelry making than it might seem at first glance. Like we’ve talked about before, vegan doesn’t equal green, so it takes a bit of extra love to find eco-friendly alternatives to animal products. Here are some places where you might encounter animal products in jewelry making and ways you can replace those products.


Suede or leather cord is a common alternative to expensive (and sometimes not so eco-friendly) chain. Silk ribbon is also an animal product, so keep an eye out for that.

You can find natural rubber cord for jewelry, but be careful: it can tarnish sterling silver. If you’re working with sterling, you might want to opt for organic cotton cord instead. The other trick with rubber cording is that some “rubber” cord is actually plastic. You’ll need to do some careful reading if you want to keep it vegan and green.


There are quite a few animal products associated with beads, and replacing them is much simpler than finding alternatives to leather, silk, or suede cord. There are beads made from all sorts of animal products, but the most common are pearls, shell, horn, bone, and feathers.

Instead of pearls, shell, horn, and bone, opt for beautiful, natural alternatives like wood beads or recycled glass. You can find faux pearls and shell, but they’re normally made from plastic, a petroleum product.

Feathers are a bit trickier. Faux feathers are made from plastic, so they’re not an eco option, but I’ve seen some very clever solutions! One artist creates her own, handmade “feathers” by trimming the shape from reclaimed bike inner tubes. You might be able to get a similar effect by trimming fabric scraps and painting them with glue to make them sturdy.

Have you guys run across any other animal products in your jewelry making adventures? I’d love to hear your solutions or what you could use help on in the comments!

This is it for now for this little vegan crafting mini-series, but I’d love to hear from you! Are there any challenges you face as a vegan crafter? Drop a comment here or send a note to becky AT important media DOT org.

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by net_efekt]

8 thoughts on “Vegan Crafting Made Easy: Making Vegan Jewelry”

  1. this article was really helpful. thank you. i’m a long-time vegan who is looking for vegan AND eco-friendly alternatives in jewelry making. i knew about hemp, but forgot about organic cotton thread….recycled rubber from bike inner tubes might also be a good alternative for leather cord in one of my projects. thanks!

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  4. Yvonne Holliman

    I emailed gorilla glue and their reply was that none of their glues contain any animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals

  5. Thanks for the post! I make Mala style beaded necklaces and the problem I face is the stench of the chord. Silk is the strongest most durable beading and knitting chord I’ve used. Hemp breaks within weeks, and cotton breaks but only after getting all fuzzy and ugly – plus the knots seem to make it weaker! I’m at a loss here – I can’t keep making malas with silk! One necklace probably kills like 1,000 silkworms! Any suggestions?

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