If you're in the market for an ethically made diamond ring it can be a bit daunting knowing where to begin. So many brands claim to make 'sustainable' or 'ethical' diamond rings, however not all are created equal! We are here to help you understand not only what an ethical diamond ring is, but where to start looking, as well as suggesting some of the alternative options available.
We believe by following a considered approach to finding an ethically sourced piece of jewellery, you will be supporting the future you want to see. If this is a diamond ring that will be with you for your lifetime, it’s important that you feel at ease with the story that comes with it. Our aim is to guide you through the benefits of purchasing an ethical diamond ring, and get down to the root of what makes them the sustainable.
What are Ethical Diamond Rings?
They come in many shapes and sizes, but all truly ethical diamond rings will be made with a respect for the earth and people around us. This means they will have been made using conflict-free diamonds – diamonds that are mined without funding rebel movements or destroying the surrounding communities. The entire journey of the stone will be monitored with a clear history of whose hands it has passed through.
These diamonds will include proper certification. One well known certification is the Kimberley Process Certificate, which shows they haven't been tampered with and are from a conflict-free country. That said, diamonds with a Kimberley Process Certificate are not always a guarantee that they are totally ethical, as precious stones can easily be passed from one country to another in order to gain this certification.
One of the biggest differences of ethical diamond rings compared to other rings you'll find comes down to where they come from. The process behind traditional diamond rings leads to deforestation, soil erosion and are a big contributor to the displacement of local communities – to name a few!
On the other hand, ethical diamond rings are made with the main priority of reducing the impact of these negative practices. They can be sourced from mines that follow fair environmental standards and labour practices, grown in labs, hand-picked from the sea or recycled from vintage pieces. They will also have proper certification and a clear journey from the source to the jeweller.
The Benefits of Ethical Diamond Rings
There are so many benefits to buying a ring with ethically sourced diamonds, so here is a bit of a breakdown for you. Ethical diamond rings include stones with certification and transparency, lab grown diamonds, or more innovative solutions such as ocean diamonds or sky diamonds, which use the carbon in the air to create stones. Not only do these types of diamonds help to reduce the impact traditional diamond mining has on the world around us, but they bring a sense of transparency and accountability into the wider jewellery industry.
By making a simple choice to buy an ethically sourced diamond ring, you are supporting makers looking to foster a new, more sustainable way of creating beautiful jewellery for years to come. Not only this, you can proudly say that you are supporting the creation of a sustainable future for both the people and the planet around us!
Choosing An Ethical Diamond Ring
One of the first things to think about is the diamond's origin and the working conditions of the place it came from. A few jewellery brands which are championing an ethical way of making jewellery include Valerio who are pioneers of creating ‘pure jewellery’, Sarah Straussberg who uses ocean diamonds, and Vrai who create beautiful lab grown diamonds. Just like Sarah Straussberg, more and more jewellers are starting to use ocean diamonds which are formed in part by their journey along the ocean bed over thousands of years. We are hoping to release our own collection of ethical diamond rings later this year so keep your eyes peeled!
We understand how it can feel like a bit of a minefield getting started so here are our top tips for finding your own ethical diamond ring:
1. Do Your Research
The first point of call will be to look at brands you are interested in and see if they are transparent about their mission, practices and sources. Once you have found a company you are happy with, take some time to ask them questions about the sustainability, certification and traceability of their materials such as:
- Do they use recycled metals? This will be a good tell of whether they really care!
- What are their in-house practices? How do they treat their people?
- Ask for another form of certification other than the Kimberley Process Certificate.
- Do they have any images / an audit from the diamond source?
- If vintage – what is the age and heritage of the stone?
There is much to be said about finding someone you trust, so make this a priority and you will quickly weed out the brands not in alignment with what you're looking for.
2. Find Alternatives
If you are looking for an alternative to classic diamonds, there are lots of other options that are equally beautiful and sentimental. Topaz or quartz are great alternatives as they are very hardwearing, but be aware of other gemstones such as emeralds as they are much softer and may not be as long-lasting.
Heirloom jewellery already in existence is another option – whether handed down through your family, or sourced from a reliable antique dealer. You can then have the options to melt it down and reset into a design of your choice. This is something we have done for many clients looking to recycle a beloved keepsake, so if this is something you would like to discuss, please get in touch.
3. Planet vs Person
Another thing to think about is whether your main concern is reducing the environmental impact of diamond mining on the land around us, or is to support more ethical practices in mining.
Depending on which resonates with you more, this will be a helpful tool to decide where to go for an ethical diamond ring. By choosing a vintage stone, or the more modern inventions of lab-grown, ocean and sky diamonds, you will not be contributing to the already extensive impact of the mining industry. Like us, this will be for those of you who believe there are already enough materials at hand to use – which there are plenty!
However, if you instead want to support ethically-practiced mining which creates jobs and employs people by paying them fairly, then choosing ethical stones and fairtrade, fairmined metals will be the way to go.
Ethical Diamond Rings in the UK
The good news is there are lots of brands working ethically right here in the UK to produce ethical diamond rings such as Ingle & Rhode and Lebrusan Studio who create beautiful and ethically sourced diamond rings. Finematter is another company who offer a service to rework existing metals, gemstones and pieces of jewellery into new creations. By working with local brands, it means you get the chance to have face to face conversations and see more of the making process, making it even more special. Another bonus is that by following this route, you will be supporting a smaller company aka lower carbon impact!
At Emma Aitchison, we are proud to make a range of pieces of jewellery made from 100% recycled metals which have all been made by hand, in batches, in our studio in Somerset. We offer a complimentary one-to-one service which allows us to work closely with our clients and gain a deep understanding of what they are looking for. Through meticulous research, we have been able to source the best materials from across the UK so you don't have to. You can read more about our sustainable methods here.
A beautiful example of the ethically made pieces from Lebrusan Studio who use fully traceable gemstones.
Finding ethical diamond rings is no easy task, however the reward is great! There is no better feeling than knowing that you have made a responsible choice to find a piece of jewellery with a positive impact on the environment and people behind it. Especially when it marks a significant moment in your life such as an engagement or wedding!
This process should be just as memorable as the ring itself so it shouldn’t be a stressful experience for you. By following a path which suits both your budget and ethics, we are confident you will find a piece of jewellery which will be loved for years and years to come!