Consumers are becoming more and more conscious of the full supply chain that their chosen products go through. This is a very good thing – it leads to better product choices and encourages companies to raise their ethical standards. Sadly, the jewellery industry still has plenty of room for improvement, but things have been getting better. If nothing but an ethic, environmentally sound engagement ring will do for you, read on…
The number one mantra for any environmentalist is ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’. Where engagement rings are concerned, ‘reducing’ isn’t really an option since that would mean not wearing a ring at all! Many brides may not be too happy with reusing an pre-owned ring either (unless it’s an antique, but more on this later). Recycling, however, is easy! Many jewellers offer recycled metal for the band of your ring, gold silver, or sometimes even platinum and palladium. There is absolutely no difference in the quality of recycled vs new metals, so this is a great way to make your ring that little bit more eco-friendly. If you’re getting a custom ring made it’s even easier to include recycled metal in your design.
Why stop at recycled metal? Why not get a fully recycled ring, i.e an antique? An antique engagement ring causes no adverse harm to the environment, not including any damage that was done during its initial creation (which would be much less than a new ring anyway because mining techniques were much less advanced). Antique rings also date from a time when the issue of conflict diamonds was not as critical as it is today, or not present at all depending on the country. Plus, antique engagement rings come in a range of stunningly beautiful styles and often have intriguing histories behind them.
Anyone with a social conscience who has broached the topic of engagement rings will be aware of conflict diamonds. These are diamonds and other gemstones that have been mined in countries actively engaged in civil war, with the sale of the diamonds used to fund war crimes and human suffering. The Kimberley Process, introduced in 2003, set out a certification process for diamonds to make them traceable from the mine right to the jeweller’s window, thus stopping conflict mined diamonds from entering the jewellery trade. It was a huge improvement, but hasn’t completely stopped conflict gems from entering the market. To ensure your diamonds are 100% ethically mined (if not entirely environmentally friendly), research jewellers who proudly display a commitment to this beyond the Kimberley Process, because pretty much every decent jeweller adheres to the latter.
Lab Grown Diamonds
If you want to leave no room for error whatsoever, the easiest solution for a 100% eco-friendly and ethical engagement ring is lab grown diamonds. Also known as cultured diamonds, these diamonds have the exact same chemical make-up and are formed the exact same way as natural diamonds – just in a lab instead of the earth. They’re just as beautiful and just as sparkly, and they don’t have the same environmental or social concerns attached to them. They’re also a lot cheaper than natural diamonds which is always a big plus. Combine a lab grown diamond with recycled metal and voila – your guilt-free engagement ring is here.
If you’re ready to start shopping for an eco-friendly engagement ring, check out Blue Nile or Brilliant Earth for a start, or source some ethical local jewellers in your area (there’s always at least one around!)