We’ve all heard the expression “all that glitters is not gold,” and we can’t think of a better expression to describe the wedding jewelry industry. Sadly, the diamond-studded engagement rings and glittering wedding bands meant to be a symbol of love are often hiding more than a few dirty secrets such as unethical, unsustainable, and unfair production practices. Unfortunately for consumers, the wedding ring industry does an excellent job hiding these hard truths from brides and grooms to be, and it can be easy to overlook the damage the diamond and mining industries have on our earth and it’s people.
For many of us, the movie “Blood Diamond” first opened our eyes to the horrors involved in the diamond industry. Now, more than ever, brides and grooms are examining the origins of their wedding jewelry and looking to purchase ethical, eco-friendly engagement rings.
However, like most parts of wedding planning, the options can seem overwhelming. When searching through a sea of “ethical” “fair trade” and “eco-friendly” claims, it can be hard to know what to look for and make sure that the jewelry you’re purchasing truly is ethical.
We’re here to help you sort through these options to find the most ethical, eco-friendly engagement ring of your dreams! The fact that you are even here, reading this post, is already such a great step in the right direction!
Without further ado, here are our top 5 tips for finding the perfect ethical, eco-friendly engagement ring.
1. Consider a vintage or used engagement or wedding ring
Hands down, the most ethical, eco-friendly engagement rings are secondhand or vintage. The beauty of these rings is that they have already been made, so they do not further pollute the earth or contribute to the exploitation of workers in mines. Another great benefit is that vintage or used rings are often unique and one-of-a-kind, and many times cost less than a brand new ring would. Try looking at estate sales, thrift stores, and reputable internet retailers to find the perfect engagement or wedding ring.
When purchasing a secondhand or vintage ring, select a seller that can provide paperwork detailing the ring’s history and authenticity. You’ll also want to make sure that the seller is reputable and has a return policy so you can check that the appraisal is accurate. For more tips on purchasing antique wedding rings, check out this site!
2. Pass down a family heirloom
You may be lucky enough to have a family heirloom tucked away that would make for a perfect wedding or engagement ring! Selecting a ring that is already a part of your family history is a beautiful way to bring families together and celebrate your love in a timeless fashion that honors your ancestors or family members.
Perhaps you love the idea of using a family heirloom, but aren’t so in love with the setting. If this is the case for you, consider taking your jewelry (or even several pieces) to a jeweler that specializes in re-setting stones or re-using precious metals. A talented jeweler will be able to work with you to create a truly unique piece and put a fresh twist on your family heirloom!
If you’re set on diamonds for your engagement or wedding ring but are struggling to find a vintage or secondhand piece, then you’re next best option is to search for the most ethical diamonds you can find. You’ll have two options, lab-grown diamonds or diamonds that come from mines.
Unfortunately, whether lab-grown or mined, the production or extraction of diamonds is fairly resource-intensive. Lab-grown diamonds require lots of energy to produce, and mining practices are not eco-friendly as they are destructive to ecosystems and often involve unfair, unethical labor practices.
When selecting your diamonds, be sure to have a chat with your jeweler about where exactly your stones came from. You should be able to trace the origins of each and every stone in your engagement or wedding ring-vague answers or unclear responses are a sure sign that perhaps your diamonds are not as squeaky-clean as they appear. Do your research to ensure that the diamonds you choose are ethically sourced, follow fair-trade labor standards, and employ lower-impact mining practices.
4. Select recycled (or lower-impact) metals
Did you know that gold mining is one of the most destructive industries in the world? Producing gold for one wedding ring generates 20 tons of waste, and can displace communities, contaminate drinking water, pollute land, and hurt workers. Gold isn’t the only material to be concerned about though-silver, platinum, tungsten, titanium…just about any metal you choose has an environmental impact.
The easiest way to avoid contributing to this waste is to source recycled metals for your wedding and engagement rings. If this isn’t an option for you, your next best bet is to use a resource such as No Dirty Gold to select a retailer who has taken steps to clean up their mining practices. Remember, each and every step you take when searching for ethical, eco-friendly engagement rings makes a difference!
5. Watch out for greenwashing
It can be difficult to determine which companies truly are eco-friendly and which ones simply claim to be. Doing as much research on your retailers and jewelers as possible will help you to sort out which companies truly are employing more eco-friendly, fair-trade practices, and which ones simply claim to be. It can seem like a lot of work at first, but it will be with it when you’ve selected a beautiful ring you can be proud of for years to come. Click here for great recommendations on companies that are already doing a great job with this!
Bonus: Keep up the good work
You’ve come this far, so keep up the great work! There are so many ways you can work towards planning a more sustainable wedding, and searching for ethical, eco-friendly engagement rings is just of them. From jewelry to flowers to catering to stationery, there are tons of little ways to make your special day less impactful on our planet.
Follow us on Instagram @petalsforhope for more eco-friendly wedding tips!
Remember, we don’t need everyone to plan the perfect eco-friendly wedding, we need everyone trying their best to imperfectly incorporate a few eco-friendly practices into their wedding! Every little bit helps, and doing what you can makes a big difference!
Here at Petals for Hope, we are passionate about reducing waste from weddings and events and helping our communities. To learn more about how our nonprofit can help you recycle your wedding flowers and distribute them to those in need, click here!
For more great tips on planning an eco-friendly wedding, check out these posts: