10 Dec Put an Ethical Ring On It
Engagement proposals are about much more than just the bling! Searching for the perfect ring is part of the fun, or more accurately, a sometimes agonizing part of the fun. Trying to find the perfect ethical ring doesn’t have to add to the stress. We are here to tell you about some of our favorite sustainable, eco-conscious and ethical ring designers so you can feel good about “Putting a Ring on It”!
In this age of instant global media, it’s easy to see that the way we spend our hard-earned money has worldwide implications. You know this—you were “Woke,” like, five years before that was even a thing. So don’t worry, you’re not getting a lecture on why diamonds are a warlord’s best friend. Sourcing ethical baubles can be daunting. It takes—well it takes engagement (cough, cough). Verte Luxe is here to help you help yourselves!
Question Your Sources
As the online media landscape disintegrates into “alternative facts,” we must all follow some rules of basic research. First and foremost, cross-check multiple sources for accuracy and then check those sources again asking qui bono, who benefits? This goes double for what representatives of any billion-dollar industry say about their products. And as the 2008 financial collapse showed us, this goes triple for what regulators of that industry say.
We’re not implying that Diamondfacts.org is lying when it cites the UN Development Programme about how millions of people in African countries get healthcare from mining concerns (see their Fact 1). We’re saying: Question the statistics from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses & International Diamond Manufacturers Association, Antwerp that find 99 percent of traded diamonds are “conflict-free.” They seem to have an interest in saying that.
For a beginners’ guide to international regulations, The Kimberley Process (KP) website video explains how the “Scheme” was set up by South African traders in 2000 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream jewelry market. Since becoming a UN Security Council Resolution in 2003, the KP has come under fire. This piece at Reflective Jewelry challenges the KP and sees the “conflict-free” narrative as a type of credibility smokescreen. At a more mundane and practical level, KP also does not provide wholesalers or retailers with any kind of document of certification.
Alas, this 2013 Foreign Policy article says you’re never really going to know whether your diamond is truly conflict-free. When it comes to the production, transport and certification of precious metals, it’s certainly easier not to ask how the sausage is made.
When picking out your symbol of commitment and love, there are really only three ways to know you’re not contributing to harmful mining, shady businesses or small wars.
1) Recycled stones and metals— removed from older sets then recycled and repurposed
2) Lab-created diamonds—offering the same genetic makeup without any of the harsh mining practices. (But that doesn’t mean all mining is evil—or equal.)
3) Antique jewelry and family heirlooms.
On to the Good Stuff: Our Picks
Here we recommend some businesses that embody the Verte Luxe cause. Don’t be afraid to contact them and quiz them on their ethics policies. It is the consumer’s job to drive the demand for ethical jewelry and keep the industry honest.
DoAmore offers three categories of rocks: Ethically Mined Diamonds, Natural Recycled Diamonds and Lab-Created Diamonds. But they really want to build water-wells in Africa! DoAmore’s Ethics page runs a detailed account of its process and cites Diamond Sightholders which has info on businesses such as diamond polishing facilities. DoAmore gives its consumers the tools to do their own research. And they even thought of ethical, plastic-free boxes for the proposal!
Bario Neal not only does custom handmade designs but also shows off its ethical bona fides with a “glossary” breaking down the differences between Australian and Namibian mines as well as the recycling process. Bario Neal, like DoAmore, is a signatory of the Earthworks Golden Rules pledge (more on Earthworks below).
Blue Nile has one of the most fun-to-use ring-building interfaces we’ve seen. The company encourages you to chat with one of their experts about their sourcing and is also pledged to the Golden Rules.
Catbird is a Brooklyn jewelry studio tucked into a chic online mini-mall and wrapped in a generous foundation. A percentage of sales from various lines is donated to nonprofits such as the the ACLU and Doctors Without Borders.
Trumpet and Horn specializes in vintage and antique stones as part of their commitment to “minimal strain on the environment.” Check out their “Old Mine Cut Diamonds” section.
We love Noémie’s “Meet Noemie” page—and their prices. Next time you’re in New York City, visit Noémie is their SoHo Loft for some tea (or scotch!) to discuss their process.