Modern problems require modern solutions and that means embracing sustainable living in all aspects of our lifestyle. We are talking about opting for ethical engagement rings, if you’re an eco-conscious bride.
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.
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 a child) labourers who are forced to work in extreme, unregulated conditions. It could also have been irresponsibly mined, damaging the environment as a result.
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. This leads us to 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.
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 programmes.
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.
Diai Designs in India claims to be the country’s first sustainable chic jewellery brand, made for the modern women. Grown ethically, DiAi jewellery comes in 18Kt or 10Kt gold, embellished with diamonds, with their respective certifications, to suit every individual’s style. Mumbai-based Limelight Diamonds also ventured into the market with an aim to establish an exclusive space for luxury lab-grown diamonds, without gnawing at the surface of the earth. Another Delhi-based lab-grown diamond brand Fiona Diamonds promote you to ‘shine responsibly’. By using EF Colour and VVS clarity, they offer diamonds just like the real thing without compromising on elegance.
Antwerp-based fine jewelry label N-ue have been striving for sustainability and versatility since 2017. This Indian brand supports minimalism for the discerning women of today.
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. Although not available exclusively in India, these vintage engagement rings can be found in Trumpet & Horn, Los Angeles. 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 (San Francisco) unique antique engagement rings by era and style, including Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco designs.
All images: Courtesy Instagram and Getty
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.