Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year to get engaged. In America and many other parts of the world, engagement typically means diamond engagement ring. We’re not here to judge whether it’s right or wrong to buy a diamond engagement ring and how much money that should cost. After all, one of the essential tenets of becoming a Postconsumer is that it’s an individual choice and that everybody defines for themselves where their own satisfaction of enough is. But if you’re getting ready to choose an engagement ring, there are choices that you can make that will make your ring more … or less … socially and ethically conscious. Here are some tips (and some straight-up advice) to help guide you.


The Diamond Industry Is Not as Cleaned Up As You Would Hope

In 2006, the always dreamy Leonardo DiCaprio starred in Blood Diamond, a movie that drew attention to the human rights abuses of the diamond industry. While the movie did a great job of raising awareness and even inspiring global legislation about diamond mining and human rights, the issue is far from solved. The Kimberly Process, a diamond mining regulation that’s been in place since 2003 and is used by most major diamond producing and trading companies has reduced the amount of “conflict diamonds” on the market.  However, like most international regulations, the definition of conflict diamond is pretty narrow and it’s difficult to ensure that your diamond was truly mined without human rights lines being crossed. In addition to Africa, diamonds sourced from Côte d’Ivoire and Venezuela may be problematic. The situation is better, but it’s not resolved.


What can you do? We’re not in the practice of recommending retailers here at Postconsumers, but in this case we will. Skip the “little blue box” and consider an engagement ring from Brilliant Earth. Brilliant Earth is a Canadian company that sources the majority of its diamonds from mines in Canada, where both labor standards and environmental standards are high.


What’s the Most Eco-Friendly Metal for Your Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings are usually all about gold, but gold is actually the least environmentally friendly metal that you can use in, well, really anything. According to Mother Jones, mining the gold for an average engagement ring band creates 20 tons of mine waste, says Payal Sampat, the international campaigns director at EARTHWORKS. That includes toxic waste like mercury and cyanide. If you want to know how responsible your jeweler is about not using “dirty gold”, EARTHWORKS has a report that you can download that stacks up how various jewelry producers are doing.


Consider Diamond Alternatives

Just because diamonds are traditional, it doesn’t mean that you have to have one on your engagement ring. In fact, Kate Middleton, the world’s current most famous bride, has a sapphire as her engagement ring jewel. While almost all precious stones may come with some unsavory sources or background, it’s no secret that diamonds are unquestionably among the worst. We definitely wouldn’t recommend that you surprise your fiancée with a non-diamond engagement ring without talking to her about it first, but we really think that a non-diamond stone shows personality, individuality and environmental and social consciousness.


Vintage and Upcycled Material Rings

Finally, consider choosing rings that have, or that include materials that have, been around for a while. A vintage engagement ring brings all of the positive love mojo of the years of love that came before with it, and it likely has design elements that aren’t as common today. You’re extra lucky if you have a family engagement ring to pass down. It’s also possible to research and purchase rings made from recycled materials. You may even want to take it one step further by using a local jewelry designer to craft your unique engagement ring using materials that you’ve confirmed are upcycled for the ring.


Engagement rings can be a beautiful tradition and a lovely expression of your commitment to each other. Take the time to think through what you believe in when it comes to purchasing an engagement ring and then make choices that you’re comfortable with. After all, the ring, like your love, should last a lifetime!


Other Useful Info & Full Articles

21 Eco-Friendly and Romantic Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day

How to Consume Less with a Wedding

Photo Credit: Tela Chhe via Flickr