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How to choose an ethical engagement ring

In our generation of sustainability, one thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to opt for ethical engagement rings.

A lovelorn Fiona Apple once wondered, “What’s so impressive about a diamond except the mining?”

She had a point. Mining, with its risks of accidents and exposure to toxic elements, is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The Herculean task of obtaining a diamond in the heart of the earth should be enough to warrant the value of the precious stone.

Not for all of us, though. As the world moves towards supporting sustainable practices and ethical businesses, more people are finding it hard to say yes to just any diamond ring sitting in a box.

In fact, there are plenty of reasons to say no. It could be a blood diamond, which means it was smuggled out from a war-torn country, and buying it means funding a bloody conflict. Or it could have been mined by poor (and sometimes child) labourers who are mistreated and forced to work in extreme, unregulated conditions. It could also have been irresponsibly-mined, damaging the environment as a result.

It begs the question: where can you find an engagement ring free from violence, pain and harm? Below, we list all the ways you can shop for your future heirloom with a guilt-free conscience.

Look for jewellers that work with Fairtrade certified mines

The Fairtrade Foundation ensures that poor and disadvantaged workers are treated and paid fairly, giving them a better standard of life. Many ethical jewellery brands source their diamonds and metal from mining companies that follow Fairtrade guidelines.

Stephen Webster, a leading independent jeweller in London, was one of the first to offer rings made with Fairtrade gold. The eponymous designer himself has even visited goldmines in Peru to witness the working conditions there.

Taylor & Hart, an online jeweller also based in London, creates bespoke engagement rings with Fairtrade metal as well as ethically-sourced diamonds. Plus, it’s completely transparent about its supply chain.

Similarly, fine jeweller Ingle and Rhode uses traceable Fairtrade or recycled gold and platinum, as well as conflict-free diamonds from Canada. Its ethical engagement and wedding rings are designed and made entirely in the UK.

Support jewellers with a cause

Your engagement ring should be a symbol of love, but what if that love could go beyond the one shared between you and your significant other? More jewellery brands are giving back to the community, whether through donations to organisations or socially-minded programs.

For every purchase made at AUrate New York, for example, the fine jewellery brand donates a book to an underprivileged child in the city. It also uses sustainable gold and conflict-free diamonds in its minimal gold rings and wedding bands.

Bario Neal offers an expansive selection of handcrafted engagement rings that can be fully customized, with options of Fairtrade metal and traceable or recycled diamonds and gemstones. The New York brand also donates some of its proceeds to environmental and social justice organisations.

Miadonna‘s conflict-free engagement rings are a little different: they’re made with lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, as well as recycled precious metals. If you do choose to buy one, you’d also be funding causes like educational programs, urgent relief programs, and agricultural farms in diamond mining communities.

Consider lab-grown diamonds

Sure, they may be a little unconventional, but that makes lab-grown diamonds no less beautiful. In fact, they boast higher purity ratings than natural diamonds. More importantly, these man-made stones are completely sustainable and conflict-free.

Swarovski was one of the first jewellery behemoths to offer their own “created” diamonds, which now come in 16 new colours. California-based Vrai lets you design your own engagement ring with sustainably created diamonds in various shapes from Diamond Foundry, the world’s only carbon neutral diamond producer. London’s Lark & Berry also launched its own collection of lab-grown diamond engagement rings last year, which are also customizable.

Go vintage

Old is gold, and that can also be applied to engagement rings. Antique and vintage rings, by virtue of already being in existence, are a lot more sustainable than other options. They’re also truly one-of-a-kind, making them an extra special gift for that extra special someone.

If you want a charming engagement ring with a little history, check out Trumpet & Horn’s array of eco-friendly vintage rings. The brand’s designs boast authentic 20th century stylistic flourishes and are proudly made with recycled metals and conflict-free diamonds.

And if you have something specific in mind, you can sort through Brilliant Earth‘s unique antique engagement rings by era and style, including Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco designs.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.

How to choose an ethical engagement ring

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