While you might already know that diamonds aren’t as rare as we’ve been led to believe, you’ll still be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love a great piece of fine jewelry, especially when it includes diamonds. After all, diamonds are elegant, chic, classy, and the stone most associated with lasting love.
Because a majority of people are likely to purchase an engagement ring or piece of fine jewelry containing a diamond at some point in their lives, it’s worth pondering if ethical diamonds even exist.
Have you ever given a second thought as to how diamonds are mined and processed? Or put another way, when you walk into a jewelry boutique and are met with all those sparkly and shiny diamonds, have you ever stopped to wonder where those diamonds came from? Don’t despair if you haven’t. We’re all guilty of not thinking too deeply about such questions. Unfortunately, many diamonds on the market today originated via unethical means, which means we now have to start asking those questions.
Luckily, there are many ways to find ethically sourced and sustainable engagement rings. In this article, we’ll explore the world of ethical diamond engagement rings to help you make the most informed choice possible.
Ethically Sourced Diamonds vs Unethical Diamonds
Natural diamonds are inherently unethical. To make their way to the diamond rings and fine jewelry pieces that we so love, diamonds must be mined from the ground destroying the environment and damaging local communities.
Attempts have been made to make mining a little less destructive in recent years to avoid child labor, human rights violations, and pollution to the environment. Despite this, the best way to make an ethical decision when purchasing a diamond engagement ring is to avoid mined stones altogether.
Additionally, some mined diamonds are blood diamonds, stones that are obtained from war zones or war-torn areas, where the subsequent funds are used to finance militant rebel groups to fight in a civil war.
About Lab Grown Diamonds
Rising in popularity, lab grown diamonds are real diamonds. Exactly the same as their natural counterparts, lab grown diamonds have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as mined diamonds.
Lab grown diamonds are created by subjecting a diamond seed or a carbon source to the same intense temperatures and pressures that natural diamonds undergo beneath the earth’s surface. Unlike mined diamonds which can take millions, or even billions of years to form, lab grown diamonds can be created in a matter of weeks or even days.
Also, see our blogs on:
- How Are Diamonds Mined
- Where are Diamonds Found
How to Find an Ethical Diamond for Your Ring
The best way to ensure that your diamond center stone is truly ethically sourced is to purchase a lab grown diamond. While “conflict-free” mined diamonds do exist, these stones still support and fund the mining industry meaning that while they were obtained through better practices they still contribute to the destruction of our planet and the environment.
Ask Where the Diamond’s From
Knowing the origin of a diamond is one way that you can guarantee it was obtained morally and ethically. If there is no information on the seller’s website, calling or emailing is a good idea, so that you can speak with someone in person.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have the right to ask for a certificate of proof on how your diamond was sourced. The Gemological Institute of America(GIA), for example, insists on providing the origin country on the certificate. That way, you can trace the complete journey of the natural diamond or lab diamond that you’re considering purchasing.
If you sense that a seller or the diamond traders you have talked to are hesitant to give you a detailed answer, move on. If the diamonds were ethically sourced, there would be nothing to hide, and they would offer that information readily.
Simply being aware of the practices around diamond mining is very important. Knowing the journey of your diamond will ensure that you aren’t funding anything unethical. By doing your research and staying socially aware, you can do all that’s in your power to purchase a beautiful, ethically sourced engagement ring.
Think About Your Setting, Too
Crafting the most eco-conscious engagement ring possible doesn’t stop at your center stone. The setting that you choose matters, too. An engagement ring setting refers to the way in which a gemstone is mounted into a metal band – most commonly crafted from rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, sterling silver, palladium, or platinum.
Unfortunately, the gold mining industry is known to indulge in dark practices similar to those of the diamond mining industry. Luckily, gold, in all its forms, can be recycled and reused without losing its value. This means that engagement rings and other fine jewelry can be crafted from recycled gold hailing from a variety of sources such as existing jewelry, industrial use materials, and electronic components.
To ensure that the ring you have your eye on is made from recycled gold, shop with jewelers who are certified or use precious metals sourced from certified responsible refiners.
Unfortunately, other popular alloys like platinum cannot be recycled so a platinum engagement ring might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a sustainable option. But don’t fret, platinum’s icy hue lives on in other recyclable materials such as sterling silver and palladium. However, when choosing between the two keep in mind that sterling silver is not as high quality as palladium and may not stand up to the test of time associated with everyday wear and tear. For this reason, palladium is the safest and most eco-friendly bet between the two.