Searching for the perfect engagement ring can be a stressful endeavor at the best of times. Choosing the right style and size, while knowing it’s a “forever” ring, can be difficult enough. But adding in the ethical implications of your new bling may just be enough to make your head spin!
It’s no secret that diamonds and the methods by which they are harvested are far from ideal. From employing child labor to their detrimental impact on the environment, any eco-conscious couple would do well to find an alternative way of declaring their eternal love than buying a conflict diamond.
But what’s the alternative?
Luckily, lab-grown diamonds are becoming more widespread and accessible. And the good news is that they’re virtually indistinguishable from earth-mined diamonds. But the best bit for any soon-to-be engaged couple is that they won’t cost you the earth either. Lab-grown diamonds can be up to 40% cheaper than their traditional counterparts.
Of course, new lab-grown diamonds aren’t the only way to say “I do”. There are also certified conflict-free diamonds, or why not buck the trend and opt for a different stone altogether? Ethically sourced or lab-grown gemstone rings can offer a colorful alternative. You also could look to antique shops for a unique vintage piece, or upcycle an old family heirloom into a new bespoke ring.
Choosing an ethical diamond ring to propose with will have all the more meaning when you know you’re not contributing to human or environmental harm with your purchase.
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Where to Buy Sustainable Engagement Rings
The following ethical jewelry brands are leading the way with their transparency around sourcing sustainable materials. And a quick browse through any of these jewelers’ websites will reassure you that conflict-free engagement rings are just as stunning as their unsustainable counterparts.
Whether you have a strict budget or are wanting to splurge, there are plenty of brands to choose from so you can ensure that your loved one is bestowed with the ring of their dreams.
Stefano Navi will have you swooning over their elegant and sustainable diamond rings. Create your own custom piece using their easy online tool, and you’ll have a ring as unique as your loved one.
Not sure which style to go for? Choosing the right ring is a breeze with Stefano Navi’s unique Home Try-On Kit, which allows you to try on 6 of their most popular shapes at home. Or, if you don’t want to ruin the surprise, why not propose with a stunning 1 ct. ring which can be exchanged within 180 days through their Preferred Program.
All Stefano Navi engagement rings are created from the highest quality lab-grown diamonds and are set in recycled or sustainable fair-mined gold. Handcrafted in their New York atelier, and delivered with a lifetime warranty, you can be sure you’re choosing a ring that’ll withstand the test of time.
One of the leaders in the fine jewelry industry, Noémie is known for its high-quality pieces and unique designs. Created using only the highest quality materials such as 18K recycled gold, you can choose to have either conflict-free or lab-grown diamonds placed into your dream ring setting.
Their rings come with a lifetime warranty and IGI certification card of authenticity, so you can be sure you’ve invested in a ring that’ll last as long as your love.
Aurate New York is stringent when it comes to sourcing materials from ethically and environmentally responsible suppliers. Their conflict-free diamonds are tracked from the mine to their US workshop, in line with the Kimberley Process, and they only support mines whose workers are paid fairly, have safe working conditions, and respect the local communities.
Diamonds aside, they only use recycled gold to create their stunning and unique designes, and they ensure any excess manufacturing materials are recycled. To top off their ethical business practices, they also donate a portion of proceeds to a New York-based organization that supports literacy.
Specializing in beautiful, bespoke sustainable jewelry, Brooklyn-based Catbird creates its designs from fair-trade and recycled gold, and conflict-free, lab-grown, or recycled diamonds.
Ideal for those who enjoy more whimsical designs, these eco-friendly engagement rings also come with the satisfaction of supporting a truly community-focused company. Catbird donates 1% of all sales through their “Giving Fund” to non-profits such as Black Lives Matter, Girl Up, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and the Women’s Prison Association.
Founded by a third-generation diamond merchant, Clean Origin was born out of a wish to do better. Quality and ethics are at the core of the business, and you can rest assured you’re buying a real diamond, albeit without the destructive practices that come from the earth-mined variety.
Clean Origin also utilizes recycled gold in their luxury rings, many of their diamond labs offset their carbon emissions, and they’ll send your beautiful custom engagement ring to you in eco-friendly packaging.
For those who want to create their own bespoke engagement ring, ethical jewelry brand Taylor & Hart is the place to shop. Their custom-made sustainable engagement rings are created out of conflict-free natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, or ethically sourced gemstones.
You can also select to have your precious stone set into a Fairtrade gold, recycled gold, or recycled platinum ring. No matter which you choose, all their rings come with a lifetime warranty and free aftercare, so it can keep on sparkling for many more years to come!
Budget-conscious beaus will benefit from Mejuri’s small but curated range of delicate, ethically sourced diamond rings. With their aim to make luxury jewelry accessible to all, they minimize markups and middle-men, to keep their beautiful pieces affordable.
But this affordability doesn’t come at the expense of the materials they use to create their pieces. Quite the opposite. They ensure all gold used in their jewelry is traceable, and 70% is certified recycled. The remaining 30% is newly mined gold from sustainable sources that support the local communities. The diamonds used, while earth-mined, are compliant with the Kimberley Process, meaning they’re certified conflict-free.
What better way to seal the deal than with a truly one-of-a-kind vintage engagement ring? Etsy is an absolute treasure-trove of stunning rings, and there is really something to suit everybody. With sellers from around the world offering up their antique rings, it’s a fabulous way to find something locally, or possibly pay tribute to your heritage.
If second-hand treasures aren’t your thing, Etsy is also a fabulous place to find small, sustainable jewelers making rings from reclaimed, recycled, and lab-grown diamond rings too.
A favorite of Meghan Markle, Canadian brand Ecksand creates beautifully handcrafted, ethical engagement rings from sustainable materials. And offers them for sale at inclusive prices.
Made from 100% recycled gold, and with your choice of conflict-free natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, or recycled diamonds, you’re sure to find the design for you. If you have your heart set on a natural diamond, this may be the place to source it from, as Ecksand partners with mines that better their communities, rather than diminishing them.
Certified B-Corp company MiaDonna is committed to providing an ethical alternative to earth-mined diamonds and gold. Using only lab-grown or recycled diamonds, and 100% recycled precious metals, they’ve created a swoon-worthy range of forever jewelry that anyone would feel good about wearing.
Not content with just creating sustainable engagement rings, they also give back to the communities negatively affected by traditional mining industries. And for each purchase made, you’re directly helping them to fund projects that empower these communities.
Why Buy an Eco-Friendly Engagement Ring
Buying an ethical engagement ring is now more accessible than ever with brands such as those featured above providing transparency around their materials and sourcing. But if you’re still not convinced that eco-friendly engagement rings are the right way to go, let’s have a more in-depth look at why you might want to reconsider.
Environmental Impact of Earth Mined Diamonds
The environmental impact of earth-mined diamonds is immense. If you’ve ever seen a photo (like the one below) of a diamond mine, you’ll immediately see why.
Large amounts of land are dug up to search for diamonds. This destroys natural habitats, causes population displacement, disrupts ecosystems, and in turn, the local wildlife. These mines are often abandoned when they’re no longer profitable, and left as gaping holes in the landscape.
Add to that the large fossil-fuel-driven machinery needed to work the mines, the waste rock left over from the mining process which can leak heavy metals into the environment, and the excessive water consumption (in areas typically already in short supply) needed to mine diamonds, and it paints a pretty bleak picture.
Human Impact of Earth Mined Diamonds
The impact of conflict diamonds on communities is a complex issue. Known as “blood diamonds”, the process of mining these diamonds is littered with human-rights abuses, including child labor, unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, and violence.
Then there are the communities misplaced when diamond resources are found in an area. This displacement is often forceful, and violent – to the extent that one displacement of a local tribe in Botswana has been labelled as a genocide.
The trade of these conflict rough diamonds is also said to have funded Civil Wars in several African countries, killing millions of innocent people in the process.
What About Conflict-Free Diamonds?
The Kimberley Process was established as a benchmark for conflict-free diamonds, however, it has been criticized as being an imperfect solution, albeit the most comprehensive one available at present.
Some argue that, when conducted sustainably, earth-mined diamonds can provide a much needed income source for local workers and improve living conditions in the communities in which they operate.
Conflict-Free Diamond Mining & The Environment
While the primary consideration for conflict-free diamonds are the people who mine them, and the communities around the mines, attention is also given to environmental impact and guidelines are put in place to minimize these.
Human & Environmental Impact of Mining for Gold
Like diamond mining, gold mining is a destructive activity that has lasting environmental and humanitarian concerns. It can displace local people, contaminate water supplies, destroy ecosystems, and have unsafe working conditions. To mitigate this damage, the environmentally friendly engagement rings featured in this article utilize primarily recycled gold, or sustainably mined gold.
Gold can be recylced infinitely without degradating the quality, so it makes sense to reuse already-mined gold in this way.
What is an ethical engagement ring?
An ethical engagement ring is one that is sourced using materials that cause as little harm to the environment as possible, and one that is manufactured using fair labor and low-impact manufacturing practices.
Ethical rings are often created using lab-grown or conflict-free diamonds, along with sustainable materials such as recycled gold or platinum.
Are diamond rings ethical?
Diamond rings are classed as ethical when they are sourced by conflict-free mines that ensure the safety of miners, pay them a fair wage, and give back to the community. Diamond mines, whether well managed or not, still have environmental impacts, so arguably the more eco-friendly option is to purchase a lab-grown diamond ring.
Final Thoughts on Sustainable Engagement Rings
Choosing a ring to symbolise your love doesn’t have to come at the cost of human lives or environmental damage.
Now that you know how easy it is to choose ethically sourced engagement rings it really is a no-brainer to do the right thing. And the bonus is that you’ll get to choose or design an eternaly beautiful piece that may just end up costing you less than a traditional ring.