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September 06, 2022

How to buy an ethical diamond engagement ring

Becky Waldron

An engagement ring is probably one of the most expensive things that you’ll buy (besides a house and car) and one of the most valuable things you’ll own. That’s not just because of the money, but because of the sentiment behind it.   

For something so valuable, more people are wanting their proposal to be as guilt-free as possible. If you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, or wedding ring, that has been sourced ethically, then we’ve compiled a guide to help you do that.     

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Our guide at a glance: 

  1. What is an ethical engagement ring?  

  2. Are ethical diamonds possible?  

  3. Blood or conflict diamonds   

  4. Look for signs of ethical sourcing  

  5. Opt for lab-grown diamonds   

  6. Look for sustainable jewellers   

  7. Be willing to do the work   

What is an ethical engagement ring?   

What makes an engagement ring ethical is decided by many factors, such as what the ring is made of, where its materials have come from, and how they have been sourced. Like many luxury goods, jewellery, diamonds and gemstones can have long and complex supply chains, which can easily be tainted with corruption.   

Engagement rings are typically made up of two main materials, a metal (white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum for example) and a gemstone. Metal mining is incredibly harmful to the environment, being one of the most energy intensive industries in the world, alongside contaminating water supplies, disturbing surrounding land and wildlife, and impacting air quality.  

Not only is it harsh on the environment, but it usually causes harm to the communities and workers involved. In fact, most kinds of ground mining practices are deemed unethical and unsustainable, especially diamond mining.  

Are ethical diamonds possible?   

The diamond industry has some complex connotations. It causes people to ask‘is there such a thing as an ethical diamond?’ Luckily, more so lately, there is.  

However, if you want an ethical diamond, you need to be vigilant throughout your decision-making process.  

This means checking a stone’s traceability and any certification or proof of responsible sourcing, and getting an idea of the brand themselves. Are they open and honest about their gems, or do they have a reputation for mining diamonds unethically?  

There are numerous factors that come into play when knowing whether a diamond is ethical or not, including environmental, social and economic. These all need to be considered. You want to make sure your diamond is not a blood or conflict diamond, and hasn’t been mined from the ground (more on this further down).   

Find out more about ethical diamonds and how to find them.

Blood and conflict diamonds  

While the concept of blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, came to light in the late ‘90s, it’s unfortunately not yet a thing of the past.   

The two terms are used interchangeably and refer to diamonds that are a product of insurgency. These diamonds are traded by rebel groups and the money is used to finance warfare and other unethical activities. The people who mine these diamonds are also often forced into labour, paid unfairly, and treated unjustly.    

It’s not always easy to be entirely sure where a diamond has come from, especially as conflict diamonds can be smuggled into trade and sold as legitimate diamonds. To make sure your engagement ring is ethical, avoiding these kinds of diamonds, or those that you even suspect could be blood or conflict diamonds, is crucial. 

Canadian diamonds are the most prominent mined diamonds at the moment that have a reputation for responsible sourcing, both treating artisanal miners fairly and adhering to environmental standards.  

Read more on a brief history of the diamond trade, what the industry is doing to help to stop it and the innovations that are erasing these harmful practices, here.   

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Look for signs of ethical sourcing   

As mentioned above, knowing whether a diamond has been ethically sourced or not isn’t always clear cut. But, there are ways to make sure that a ring is ethical.  

One way, for example, is not to be afraid to ask your jeweller questions. The diamond and/or ring retailer will be happy to answer your questions, especially so if they have nothing to hide.   

Choosing brands that opt for eco-friendly practices will ensure that your engagement ring is as ethical as it can be. Transparency and traceability within supply chains is also something to be aware of. The more that a jeweller or brand can evidence these two, the better!   

Knowing what to look for, the types of conflict-free diamonds that are out there, and the brands who are meeting the demands of the conscious consumer will help you to choose an engagement ring for the one you love.   

The use of Fairtrade, Fairmined, and/or recycled gold, silver and other precious metals are also green flags. This will help you to prioritise people and the planet over profit for a guilt-free jewellery piece.   

Opt for lab-grown diamonds   

One way to make sure your engagement ring is ethical is to choose lab-grown diamonds over ground-mined diamonds.   

So, what are lab-grown diamonds?  

Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that are grown in a laboratory. They are chemically and anatomically identical to diamonds found in the earth, but don’t need the same kind of intensive process to obtain.   

Mined diamonds are detrimental to the environment and run the risk of being blood or conflict diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds help to protect the earth, vulnerable communities and, yes, they are real diamonds.   

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Look for sustainable jewellers  

The word sustainability is cropping up everywhere and we're seeing it more so with jewellery, too. It’s clear we do need to approach more sustainable ways of living, especially so in our buying choices. If you want to pop the question with an ethical engagement ring, looking for sustainable jewellery is a good way to go.  

It’s not just about spotting the brands that have the word vaguely appearing across their website and social media, but the ones that demonstrate an active commitment to sustainable processes.   

The term sustainable jewellery would encompass using materials that are recycled, reused or sensibly sourced – making sure anything taken is given back. The same applies to any diamonds and gemstones used.   

To go the extra mile, a sustainable jewellery brand wouldn’t only use sustainable processes and materials for their jewellery, but ensure as much as possible, from the packaging they use to the energy they require, is good for the environment and causes minimal harm to people and animals.      

Be willing to do the research  

It’s not going to be hard work, but finding ethical and sustainable jewellers will take some extra effort. This is because they’re not yet as prevalent as we hope they’ll one day be. 

It’s usually craft retailers that provide ethical jewellery, and that can work in your favour because you know your engagement ring will be completely unique. More and more retailers are also releasing lab-grown diamond ranges, so finding this kind of sustainable gem shouldn’t be too difficult.   

While somewhat exclusive, ethical engagement rings aren’t necessarily more expensive than their less sustainable counterparts, either. So if you’re on a budget, you won’t have to compromise your values to get the perfect engagement ring.   

A commitment to ethical jewellery   

To have a guilt-free proposal, and wear your ring with peace of mind for years to come, getting an ethical engagement ring is a powerful choice in the age of the conscious consumer. 

Through effective research and knowing the signs of an ethical retailer, you can find an engagement ring that suits people, the planet, and most importantly you and your fiancé!   

Our gorgeous diamonds are mined from the sky using only green energy, and our metals are recycled – free from any ground mining. What more could you want from a diamond?   

Go on, have a browse of our skydiamonds...  

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