The planet has been kind to us. And it’s about time to start giving back.
We, as a society, have started thinking more and more about how our choices on fast fashion and throwaway accessories affect the world we live in (and rightly so).
But this doesn’t mean you need to ditch the luxuries and start growing your own kale. There are simple ways to decrease your environmental footprint and it comes down to the decisions you make around purchases, including significant ones like engagement rings.
Here, we share a few ways you can design an ethical engagement ring that’s kinder to the planet.
Put your pre-loved jewellery to good use
Do you have a stash of old jewellery gathering dust at the back of your sock drawer (think mum’s jewellery from the 80’s or grandma’s old engagement ring)? You may not be caught dead in them now, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Pre-loved jewellery is a great way to create a really special engagement ring without having to mine for new materials. Both the gemstones and metal can often be used and it ticks all the boxes of reduce, reuse and recycle. It can be a great way to imbue your special piece with the story of a family (like Olivia who turned her mum’s engagement ring into her own) and it’s environmentally friendly to boot!
Remember though, some metals don’t melt down as well as others, so chat to your jeweller for advice beforehand.
Know where your gems come from
Large-scale mining can be destructive, so choose gems that are sourced ethically and with respect for the environment.
You may have heard of “conflict diamonds” (otherwise known as “blood diamonds”), which are illegally traded diamonds mined in areas controlled by rebel forces and sold to fund wars.
The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that works to prevent these diamonds from entering the legitimate supply chain. However, while this is a step in the right direction, there are a few shortfalls. The Kimberley Process doesn’t cover ethical mining and working conditions nor the use of child labour. It’s also possible for conflict diamonds to be smuggled into the legitimate supply chain, where they are then indistinguishable from diamonds from legitimate sources.
If getting an ethically sourced gem is important to you, consider diamonds that are traceable right to the source (and certified as such) or diamonds that originate from Canada or Australia, which are regulated to higher ethical and environmental standards.
Also remember that your engagement ring doesn’t have to feature a diamond. Sapphires are great choices for engagement rings and are generally sourced on a smaller scale than diamonds, with less automated machinery and by family-run operations.
Choose lab-created stones
Lab-created gems are grown in a laboratory under controlled conditions. They are chemically and physically identical to their mined counterparts, the only difference being that they are made by humans instead of the earth.
Because they don’t involve intensive mining, they are a good option to consider for those concerned about the environmental impact related to mining (however at this time, the jury is out on whether they are truly more environmentally friendly as a whole).
Ask your jeweller lots of questions
It’s time to ask the tough questions. Choose a jeweller that vets their suppliers and has processes in place to minimise their environmental impact.
As an independent jeweller, I craft my pieces in small batches or make them to order. No throwaway jewellery or mass production here! I personally love working with customers to choose ethically sourced gemstones and repurpose old jewellery into new custom pieces. In the workshop, I prioritise sustainability by recycling scrap materials and substituting harsh chemicals with natural, environmentally friendly options.
Some questions you may want to ask your jeweller are:
- Can you send me some information about how your metals are sourced?
- I’m looking for an ethically sourced sapphire. What do you recommend and why?
- How can I make my ring as eco friendly as possible?