You lovebirds are a savvy pair! When shopping for engagement rings, many couples don’t realize that those precious metals and sparkling gems may reflect environmental harm. However, having found this article, you’re obviously eco-minded. Your lifestyle choices demonstrate genuine concern for our Earth.
But, what actually constitutes an “eco-friendly” engagement ring? The term sounds rather vague, right? Here are defining features, along with where to find rings both exquisite and cruelty-free.
First, let’s briefly visit the planetary damage incurred with excavating popular ring materials. Then, you can share your knowledge with other couples, raising awareness of sustainable manufacturing options.
Mining precious metals and gemstones contributes to air and water pollution, reports The Epoch Times. For example, separating gold from ore entails using cyanide, a toxic chemical that contaminates our water sources and atmosphere. Mercury is another byproduct of gold mining which poisons our air.
The digging process also ravages soil, decimating forests. Loose earth seeps into rivers and streams, threatening marine life. The Smithsonian reports that making one gold ring overhauls 20 tons of earth and rock!
Miners often suffer injuries, the result of working in unsafe conditions, without adequate training, tools, and protective equipment. Laborers are poorly paid. In Africa, a leading source of diamonds, young children are often forced to work in diamond mines. After a child slaves for 12 to 15 hours a day, they receive a mere $2 for their family, states the United Nations.
During the past 20 years, nations possessing diamond-rich land have warred with each other, trying to dominate the retail market. Currently, rebel factions still use diamond sales to fund civil wars, resulting in unspeakable acts of bloodshed. Rough diamonds sourced from war zones are termed blood or conflict diamonds.
In 2003, to keep blood diamonds off the public market, the United Nations enacted a certification system, called the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Countries submitting to certification must verify the legitimacy of a diamond’s origin and its conflict-free trail to retailers.
Eco-friendly engagement rings can take several forms, including upcycled pieces, preowned antiques, and synthetic gemstones.
The foundations of upcycled rings are family heirlooms. If you or your beloved have received an heirloom ring, and the donor is still living, be sure to obtain their consent before changing the design. Then, decide on what original materials to use in your engagement ring.
Alternatively, you can shop at a jeweler who sells refashioned and recycled rings. All types of metals and gems can be reset, including diamonds, pearls, and sapphires. You’ll find jewelry refashioners online.
Vintage and Antique Rings
Vintage rings are over 20 years old, reflecting specific eras and typically preowned. A ring older than 100 years is considered both vintage and antique.
Some eco-friendly jewelry retailers pair gorgeous antique gemstones with recycled metal. Don’t worry that reusing metal cheapens and weakens it. With skillful melting and recasting, recycled metal retains its original quality. Here are the various old-time styles available and their characteristic features.
Georgian (1714-1830) – intricate designs are taken from nature, such as flowers, butterflies, and leaves.
Victorian (1835-1900) – nature-inspired motifs, enhanced with carving and engraving, and symbolic gems like pearls.
Art Nouveau (1910) – also highlighting curvy objects found in nature, but embellished with colored stones, set in enamel or yellow gold.
Edwardian (1901-1920) – starring sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, accompanied by flowers, beads, scrolls, bows, and “filigree,” a lacy, ribbon design.
Art Deco (1920-1930) – emphasizing diamonds, parallel lines, and geometric shapes, including triangles, octagons, rectangles, and squares. Gemstones range from colorful and contrasting to glittering diamonds, set in platinum.
Retro (the mid-1940s) – although flamboyant in design, featuring economically priced semi-precious stones, like amethyst and aquamarine, combined with tiny diamonds.
The physical and chemical properties of lab-created stones are similar to natural gems, but synthetics cost much less. One synthetic option akin to diamonds is moissanite. Made of natural silicon carbonite, moissanite gems are stronger than diamonds.
Another diamond lookalike is the Adia diamond, produced in European labs. While cubic zirconia resembles a diamond in appearance, its chemical makeup is different. However, an Adia diamond shares the same composition, structure, and density as a natural diamond.
The following online sources of eco-friendly engagement rings are highly regarded in the jewelry industry by reviewing websites, such as EcoWarriorPrincess.net.
This retailer acquires its natural diamonds from ethical suppliers. Brilliant Earth also stocks lab diamonds and gemstones, responsibly sourced sapphires, and moissanite. Rings are crafted in the US, and designs include antique, vintage-inspired, and custom. Metals are primarily recycled.
With showrooms in Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, Brilliant Earth ships internationally. The company has a 30-day return policy, and rings come with a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. Brilliant Earth donates 5 percent of profits to communities adversely affected by the blood diamond industry.
Based in the US, Do Amore has a wide selection of ethically sourced sapphire, moissanite, and diamond engagement rings. Diamonds are conflict-free, mostly bought from Diamond Sightholders, an ethical clearinghouse, and certified by the Gemological Institute of America. Do Amore also stocks lab-created and recycled diamonds. Other available gemstones include aquamarine, topaz, and morganite. Precious metals are recycled.
Do Amore specializes in vintage-style. Another option is customizing a ring, based on a photograph and description of your vision, although Do Amore is not a refashioner. The company ships throughout the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Each ring comes with a limited lifetime warranty, covering manufacturer defects. The store’s 30-day return policy applies to all purchases except custom rings.
Here’s a side benefit of your monetary investment! Through the company’s partnership with CharityWater.org, your ring purchase supports the drilling of water wells in developing countries. Using your order number, you can track the well location funded by your purchase. As construction evolves, you receive an update and photo.
MiaDonna crafts all its rings from lab-created gemstones, diamonds, and recycled precious metals. Designs include solitaire, two-tone, three stone, vintage, antique, modern, side stone, halo set, and stackable.
If you live in the US, you can design a ring using the Home Try-On Program. First, select three styles from the company collection and the rings are shipped to you. A fiancée tries on the jewelry over six days. Then, using the included return label, you repackage the jewelry and mail it from your local USPS office. Now, after a fiancée test drive of the rings, you build a design based on firsthand experience.
With a showroom in Portland, Oregon, MiaDonna ships internationally. The company has a 30-day return policy on its eco-friendly engagement rings and a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects.
MiaDonna donates a minimum of 5 percent of its annual profits to the Greener Diamond Foundation, a nonprofit that helps restore communities harmed by the blood diamond industry.
Types of eco-friendly engagement rings include vintage, antique, lab-created, recycled, and upcycled. Now that you and your honey are well-informed of your options, you can begin the fun shopping process!
For starters, consider the collections by Brilliant Earth, Do Amore, and MiaDonna. These three companies are just a few of the reliable sources of eco-friendly engagement rings. For additional retailers, see this article by The Good Trade.
Thank you for caring about the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants. Our world needs more principled couples like you!