Thinking of popping this question this Valentine’s Day or maybe later this spring?
You can do it with green style by offering your desired a ring with a history, an antique diamond that’s on its second or third go-round.
And you don’t even have to troll pawnshops to find one of these gems (literally), you can shop the selection at Brilliant Earth, an online diamond retailer that specializes in recycled and conflict-free new diamonds.
Brilliant Earth has been recycling gold and diamonds for about five years now and championing the concept of buying “conflict-free” diamonds that don’t contribute to warfare and dictatorships.
Because diamonds endure, virtually unaffected by decades of use, and gold can be easily melted and purified, jewelry presents a perfect opportunity for recycling or upcycling. Diamonds aren’t just a girl’s best friend, they’re also the hardest rock around. So what was good for your grandmother, can work perfectly for you, without the loss of quality.
If you’d rather wear your jewelry in a more contemporary setting, no problem, the continuing value makes it worth the remodel.
When it comes to buying new, a good green shopper will look for ethically sourced, or conflict-free, diamonds.
So what exactly is conflict-free?
Brilliant Earth defines it as jewels that don’t finance or aggravate political strife in diamond-producing nations.
By contrast, “conflict diamonds” are those obtained by repressive regimes to sustain warfare or oppressive practices. Diamonds obtained with child labor or worker exploitation also qualify — creating a much bigger pool of conflict diamonds than some would like, according to Brilliant Earth.
“For years, the diamond industry has tried to sweep under the rug problems like killings, torture, sexual violence, child labor, corruption, and extreme poverty” in some diamond-producing regions, said Beth Gerstein, co-founder of Brilliant Earth, in a recent statement.
The statement took the diamond industry to task for claiming that only 1 percent of the diamonds on the market come from these war zones.
Brilliant Earth has dubbed this the “1 percent myth” and accuses the mainstream diamond industry of perpetuating this idea “by relying on an overly-technical definition of ‘conflict diamond’ and promoting a deceptive statistic.”
“Only by excluding almost every diamond tied to violence can the diamond supply be said to be 99% conflict free,” Gerstein said.
Her statement offered this example:
“The clearest example of the diamond industry’s refusal to properly acknowledge violence tied to diamond mining is Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is looting the country’s diamond wealth to fund his political party and maintain his corrupt dictatorship. Since 2008, Mugabe’s military has been deployed in valuable diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. The military has massacred civilians, enslaved adults and children in the mines, and run camps where disobedient miners are tortured and raped.”
Despite such obvious human rights abuses, the diamond industry does not count Zimbabwean diamonds among those considered blighted by conflict, she said.
The World Diamond Council, which formed to identify and attempt to stop exports of conflict diamonds, maintain that its system is working to keep them out of the global supply. Its system, known as the Kimberley Process, has kept diamonds from Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe from being sold on the global market, according to WDC statements.
The WDC maintains that its watchdog efforts have paid off, declaring in December:
“While the rate of progress is sometimes slower than desired, the Kimberley Process has proven over the years that it is effective and does have teeth. Legal exports from the Marange region of Zimbabwe were effectively held up for two years, before it was decided that the situation at certain mines has improved to the point that monitored exports could proceed. Indeed, while boycotts against Zimbabwe have almost all proven ineffective, the KP was the only organization able to report actual progress in getting the government to change its approach.
Want to insure you’re diamond has an ethical pedigree? Go recycled (though there could be some bad history associated with those antique rings) or buy from Brilliant Earth or similar ethical sellers.
That way you can tell her, it’s forever blood-free.
- Read more at Brilliant Earth’s Guide to Buying an Ethically Sourced Diamond.