A guide to choosing a sustainable engagement ring
Times are changing and gone are the days where an engagement ring had to cost three months' salary and the bigger the rock the better. Now, couples are refining their engagement ring desires and are, in fact, holding sustainability as their priority. BrandRated's stylist Alice Reed tells us, "As consumers are demanding more transparency in how their goods are produced, jewellers must keep up and seek out jewellery which meets the change in demand."
Can an engagement ring be truly sustainable?
While it can be difficult to find a truly sustainable and conflict-free engagement ring, Alice explains that it is possible. "A sustainable diamond can be one of three things - a stone that has been ethically sourced, a lab-grown (man-made) diamond that has been created with environmentally sound practise or a recycled one.
How do I tell if a diamond has been ethically sourced?
All reputable jewellers must disclose where and how their stones have been sourced, and many need to be regulated and certified as being ethically sourced. Alice tells us, "Lab-grown diamonds (also known as lab-grown or synthetic) are considered more sustainable than a natural diamond. However, just because a diamond has not been mined, does not automatically mean it is sustainable because the amount of energy involved in making a lab-grown diamond is huge, as it's essentially recreating a process which takes millions of years and uses natural heat and pressure. This vast amount of energy involved can result in a big carbon footprint, which impacts the environment." Alice advises, "Research the company which is creating the diamonds and see whether they are invested in reducing their carbon footprint and making the manufacturing process as energy-efficient as possible."
Recycled diamonds that have been previously owned and may've been re-cut and re-set are a sustainable choice. Alice says, "The perk of shopping for recycled diamonds is because the stones are repurposed instead of recently mined, so there's no additional impact on the environment. Many prefer the look of recycled diamonds that often have an antique and vintage-feel to them."
What about the choice of metal?
"Similar to diamonds and gemstones, precious metals are finite resources," Alice tells us. "Gold is rarer than diamonds and is considered to be a universal currency, but it can be hard to trace exactly where the metal has come from. With consumers demanding to know how ethical their jewellery is, jewellers have had to be more transparent which is great news for the mindful consumer. Ask jewellers for assurance labels which certifies the gold, silver or other precious metal as coming from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organisations, such as 'fairmined' or 'Fairtrade.' In addition, look for 'eco-friendly' labels that assure the gold or metal was mined in a way which ensures minimal impact to the land and environment, without any toxic chemicals used in the process either."