11 Swoon-Worthy Engagement Rings (that are also eco & ethical)
Ethical Wedding Jewelry 101:
Have you heard about conflict or "blood diamonds" but been overwhelmed or unsure about what to do? We are here to help!
Let's begin with a brief overview of why diamonds and gold--such beautiful things--can be such a problem.
The human cost of the diamond trade was illustrated in the movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Essentially, income from selling diamonds funded and prolonged an extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone and Angola in the late 1990s.
Although the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is trying to resolve this problem, it has serious problems. For example, this certification does not protect people when it is a government itself committing the violence. Diamonds from one of the worst mining areas (the Marange Fields in Zimbabwe where torture, rape, and killings have been documented) are Kimberly Process approved. Diamonds from conflict zones are also smuggled into the legitimate diamond trade.
Gold: the environmental Impact
Gold mining may be one of the world's most polluting industries and jewelry account for two thirds of the business. Gold mining is so harmful to the environment because massive amounts of toxic chemicals and mercury are used to extract the ore and then are disposed of in rivers or on the ground. This not only harms the environment but also the people who live nearby--for generations. Finally, it takes 20-30 tons of toxic mine waste to produce enough gold for one ring.
The human cost of gold
Like conflict diamonds, gold mining also fuels civil wars. In addition, small scale gold mining is incredibly dangerous because miners often work in remote areas under harsh conditions. These miners have little or no safety equipment to protect them from explosions, toxic gas, and tunnel collapses which case illness, injury, or death.
Millions of gold miners work for little or no pay, sometimes laboring for free for 30 days in order to work one day a month when they can keep what they find, if they're lucky. Perhaps worst of all, an estimated 600,000 gold miners are children. Learn more here.
What you can do
Now that you know why gold and diamonds can be such a problem, let's get to the fun part--finding wedding jewelry that you'll love both because of how it looks and how it was made, avoiding the problems described above.
First, ask about where the stones and metals in your jewelry comes from.
Even better, seek out jewelers that use recycled, Fair Trade, conflict-free, or ethically-sourced metals and stones.
Here are 11 (eco & ethical) engagement rings we just can't stop thinking about:
These rings are by (from top left to bottom right):
Ingle & Rhode, Brilliant Earth, Ingle & Rhode, Brilliant Earth, Barbara Michelle Jacobs, Fair Trade Jewelry Co.,Brilliant Earth, Cred Jewellery, Bario Neal, Fair Trade Jewelry Co., and Melissa Joy Manning.
Love the idea of ethical jewelry? Then check out our exquisitely ethical Fair Trade wedding dresses here.