Shopping for the right engagement or wedding ring is exciting. There are so many beautiful choices out there, it can be hard to decide on just one. Many couples today begin the process by consciously deciding to look only at rings with conflict-free diamonds, or by taking an eco-friendly approach in choosing their rings.
What Are Conflict-Free Diamonds?
Conflict-free diamonds are diamonds that have been legally traded. In addition, they can be proven not to have funded conflict in war-torn areas such as countries in Western and Central Africa.
How to Verify a Diamond is Conflict-Free
When shopping for a diamond ring, ask the jeweler to show you only the ones that carry a Kimberley Process Certification, which certifies that the diamonds are conflict-free.
You also can ask if the store participates in the System of Warranties. This voluntary resolution adopted by the diamond industry is meant to assure consumers that their diamonds are from non-conflict sources. The warranty encourages companies to place a statement on invoices declaring the diamonds enclosed are conflict free. Jewelers whose suppliers produce conflict-free diamonds should have a copy of the System of Warranties available for customers to review.
Global Witness, a non-profit organization that first published reports about the connection between diamonds and conflict, suggests anyone shopping for diamonds ask jewelers questions like:
What is the origin of the diamonds you sell? What sort of verification do you use and how do you know where they originate?
Does your company have a policy on conflict diamonds and if so, may I see it?
Do your suppliers provide written guarantees that your diamonds are conflict free, and if so, may I see one?
Who conducts the audit on your diamond supply chain? Is it conducted by an independent third party?
Look for a jeweler you can trust. Do you have a girlfriend who has recently tied the knot? See if she has any recommendations, or ask other friends and family. If a jeweler is perfectly comfortable answering your questions and spending time showing you what you request, you’re probably on the right track.
There are other ways to stay eco-friendly and conflict-free when purchasing wedding rings, such as shopping for rings made out of recycled metals, vintage rings and stones, and wooden rings.
You may also want to consider whether your ring was constructed out of recycled metals. From gold to silver, many artisans are melting down old jewelry and recasting their metals into exquisite engagement rings, wedding bands and settings.
By purchasing a ring constructed out of previously mined precious metals, you can rest assured that your buy is not an active contributor to the negative environmental impact caused by mining.
Check your local listings to find jewelers offering original designs and ask about the process they use in creating their one-of-a-kind pieces.
Vintage Rings and Stones
Some of the most beautiful engagement and wedding rings are those whose time has come before. Vintage jewelry offers a history that can’t be found in today’s machine-manufactured rings.
One of the first places to start looking is within your own families. Wedding rings from your great-grandmothers and other female relatives may be safely tucked away in a jewelry box somewhere. Why hide it away when it can be worn and enjoyed as an heirloom now, and maybe for generations to come?
Other great places to shop are estate sales, vintage stores and pawn shops. You’ll be amazed at the collection of magnificent rings available, and you can often find these at half the price of a new ring.
You also might want to toy with the idea of wearing a precious stone other than a diamond. This is particularly appealing for brides who have a flair for fashion and tend to march to the beat of their own drummer. Why not wear a ring to match the colors of your wedding?
Some couples like to express their social consciousness and love of the earth by wearing wooden rings handcrafted out of salvaged wood. This type of wood may be procured from old tables, pianos, buildings or hand-collected from fallen trees and limbs. Inlaid wood and hard-carved designs make these rings gorgeous beyond compare.
Environmentally friendly engagement and wedding rings are becoming the next big trend, especially for couples who like to live their lives in support of humane practices around the globe. Conflict-free, eco-friendly rings are a symbol of your love for one another and for all of humanity.
When shopping for engagement and wedding rings, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. If you don’t get the answer you were looking for–or maybe no answer at all–just keep shopping. There are vendors available who share your concerns and will be pleased to help you to find a ring that matches your tastes and your values.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.