01 January 2013

weddings // ethical engagement rings.

I was a sociology major in college, and I think I'll always remember a particular lecture given by one of my favorite teachers.  This lecture discussed conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, which are mined in African countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Republic of Congo to fund war efforts and force people into slave labor.

To put it simply (and of course the issue has many more nuances than I'll articulate here), conflict diamonds are synonymous with human torture and death in Africa.  Has anyone seen the movie Blood Diamond?  I highly recommend it -- it's a well-made film with this important issue at its forefront.

If you want a quick overview of what this method of diamond mining means, Brilliant Earth offers a straightforward explanation here.

I'm writing this post in hopes that those of you who are not yet engaged, or are engaged but are still searching for wedding rings, can keep conflict diamonds in mind when selected rings (or suggesting rings to your boyfriends for proposal!).

{ via Anna Delores Photography }

I know what you're thinking: "How do I know if I'm buying a conflict diamond?"

The Kimberley Process of 2003 was a step in the right direction for regulating standards of diamond mining, but it doesn't guarantee that diamonds for sale in the U.S. and Canada will be conflict-free (i.e., not blood diamonds).

The way around this is to purchase your diamonds and other jewelry from companies committed to fair trade diamonds.  Brilliant Earth, for example, offers selections of Canadian, Botswanan, and Namibian diamonds "guaranteed to originate from socially and environmentally responsible sources." Brilliant Earth's Canadian diamonds are sourced from mines adhering to the highest labor and environmental standards, while their Botswanan and Namibian diamonds contribute to sustainable development in those countries.

And don't think that diamond shopping in a socially-responsible way means you'll have any less fun: Brilliant Earth has tons of incredible options for customized engagement and wedding rings, including cut, color, clarity, and various bands and settings.  I may or may not have spent some time playing around with the "Design Your Engagement Ring" feature on their website.  :)

Etsy is a great place to find ethically-produced engagement and wedding rings, too -- just make sure you're reading the shop's policies and "about" sections to get the scoop on where their diamonds (or other gemstones) and precious metals are coming from.

When shopping in person, keep in mind that any legit jeweler will be able to verify that a diamond is conflict-free.  Ask to see the diamond's System of Warranties statement to make sure you've covered your bases (and know that you're getting the truth about your diamond).  If the jeweler can't provide this certification, move on -- there are PLENTY of places to find the ring of your dreams AND rest easy knowing your diamond was mined ethically.

And, yes, Tiffany & Co. diamonds are fair-trade certified.  Tiffany adheres to a code of "responsible sourcing" and deals exclusively with suppliers who get their diamonds via conflict-free channels.

 { via Tiffany & Co. }

Recommended places to shop conflict-free:

Learn more:

And really, if it's good enough for Natalie Portman, it's good enough for me.

{ via Crushable }


  1. Very nice post!

    Happy New Year!


  2. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for writing this post.
    I've never really thought about this before. This morning you definitely stirred my thoughts in regards to rings in the future and inspired me to write a blog post. I linked back to you and the post since it is thanks to you that I'm thinking about this as well as beginning to research more.


    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! I'm glad you felt inspired and that this helped spread a little awareness. :)

  3. I got a ethical engagment ring! I love it!
    We ordered from Brilliant Earth! the best part about their antique rings is I have yet to find sometone else with a ring like mine!

    Thanks for sharing this great post!

  4. What a great read, I will make sure mine are good when I get them.

  5. What an important issue. A sad one, and one that so many people never stop to think about. Most folks are just out looking for a bargain and really don't think (or care) about the history behind what they're putting on their finger. Thank you for raising the flag!

    When I was shopping for a ring with Eric, this was on my mind. I didn't even have to ask our jeweler what his sourcing practices were- he volunteered them to us right off the bat and went into detail about how he hand-selects his diamonds from reputable sources. He was the first jeweler we visited, and I (and my whole family!) am a life-long customer now.

  6. Thank you for creating such a wonderful (and important) post. I will admit that I wasn't thinking about the ethical backgrounds of my future engagement ring. The thought hovered above my head once or twice, but didn't take it too seriously. When in reality, our decisions, no matter how small, affect someone else and we should keep that in mind. I had an engagement ring on Etsy that I was drooling over -- now, I'm rushing to see if it's conflict-free.

    Love your Natalie Portman reference at the end, too. Haha.

    xo, Adriana.


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