Even if you can’t buy an engagement ring that is not 100% environmentally sustainable, there are many ways to make more responsible choices for an ethical engagement ring. When you search for ethical engagement rings, you might come across terms like “recycled” gold, “conflict-free diamonds”, and “ethical craftsmanship”.
There are no perfect conflict-free, environmentally crafted engagement rings that are called ethical.
But, the ethical rings that you will come across being offered in the industry are often those that support the small-scale farmers and mined without using mercury in the process. This article will help you know how to determine if the engagement ring you are planning to buy is authentically ethical.
What is an Ethical Engagement Ring?
An ethical engagement ring is crafted with an ethically-sourced, conflict-free diamond and a setting that is made of metal that was recycled.
When we say ethically sourced, it means that the diamond was produced without a harmful impact on the environment. Moreover, it was obtained without violating human rights.
The most common affordable ethical engagement rings are those that are crafted with lab-created diamonds. They typically have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as diamonds that were mined. Mined diamonds are often controversial in the process by which they are sourced.
Are There Authentic, Ethically Sourced Engagement Rings?
It is really hard to tell if an engagement ring is one hundred percent ethically sourced. It is better and safer to offer an engagement ring that you believe was produced and created without harming the environment in the process or disobeying human rights.
There are challenges when you want to make sure that the engagement ring you want to purchase is ethically-sourced. You may not be able to trace a diamond way back to its source.
However, if you are really a conscientious, socially responsible consumer, you can conduct research on the engagement ring you are buying and determine where the diamond and metal were sourced. But then again, it will not be a walk in the park.
What are the Challenges in Searching for Affordable Ethical Engagement Rings?
The problems that you may encounter when you are searching for ethical engagement rings with conflict-free diamonds and recycled metal will include:
Being “conflict-free” can be misleading.
It was in the 1990s when “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” became a problem in the diamond industry. These were diamonds that were mined by violent rebel groups in Africa.
It was a time when people got killed because groups wanted to take mining areas where diamonds were found. Most often, these groups used brutal force to overtake these mining areas. There was also news of how diamonds were traded illegally for money and weapons.
In 2003, the Kimberley Process certification was established to prevent “conflict diamond” from being mined and smuggled into legitimate channels in the industry. However, it does not completely certify that a diamond was mined properly.
Hence, diamond dealers cannot guarantee that the diamonds they are selling are 100% conflict-free, which means that there were no violations of human rights or that no environmental harm was involved in the process of obtaining the diamond.
A diamond’s origin is difficult to trace.
There is likewise no guarantee that a diamond dealer can identify the exact source of a diamond being sold. The process that a diamond goes through before it ends up in the grand collection for customers to view and choose, involves a lot of steps.
It is not easy to distinguish which diamonds are mined and those which come from artisanal sources. There are advanced identification techniques being used by gemological laboratories, but there is still no diagnostic way to determine the exact geographic origin of a diamond.
- The diamond is received and examined in rough form in a sealed, tamper-proof package directly from the mine.
- Data is collected on the rough diamond piece.
- A unique identification number is assigned to each rough diamond.
- The diamond is cut and polished (manufacturing stage).
- The manufacturer submits the polished diamond to GIA (with the unique identification number assigned from the rough).
- GIA analyzes the rough and polished data to confirm the data from each match.
Misleading marketing strategies
There are two words being used in marketing diamonds that can be misleading.
- Provenance — the last stop that a diamond makes before it ends at the hands of a jeweler
- Origin — refers to the place where the diamond was mined
A jeweler can tell you the provenance of a diamond because they do not know exactly where the origin is.
A jeweler can likewise say that a diamond they are offering is “beyond conflict-free” and “Botswana sort”. This means that the diamonds were not necessarily mined in Botswana.
They were just sorted there. There is a possibility that they were mined by a company that does not adhere to environmentally-sound mining practices.
Do your research if the diamond dealer claims that their diamonds are “beyond conflict-free”. Verify the company’s sources of diamonds.
Looking for recycled metal for a setting
If you are really into purchasing an authentic ethical engagement ring, make sure that your 100% conflict-free diamond is placed on a recycled metal setting or a reused setting. This makes your engagement ring truly sustainable.
Best Places to Buy Conflict-Free Engagement Rings
Finding a beautiful ethical engagement ring that supports your principle of sustainability and human rights can be challenging, but here are tips on where you can get them:
- Canadian diamonds are mined following strict labor laws and environmental guidelines.
- Lab-created diamond engagement rings are man-made diamonds, which means that the process they went through did not involve harming the environment.
- Recycled engagement rings are diamonds that can be cut again and re-polished, then customized to fit the style or design you like.
Purchasing an Ethical Engagement Ring
It is clearly difficult to know the exact origin of a diamond. But you can always do thorough research, so you will know if you are purchasing a truly ethical engagement ring that is not associated with unsafe or illegal working conditions or unsustainable mining.