While there are responsibly harvested diamonds, many people object to the environmental problems associated with mining both gold and diamonds. Others object to the costs in humanitarian terms that were brought to light by movies such as Blood Diamond (2006). Other couples simply have better uses for the money.
The most cost-effective, eco-friendly and trouble-free ring is one you already own. A ring that has been passed down from generation to generation is a beautiful symbol of family, and it does not tax the environment. Rings can be resized and even remade. However, before you consider remaking a ring in a different style, make sure to check with the original owner. If you don't have a family ring, consider looking for a vintage or antique ring. Make sure to have the ring appraised by a professional jeweler before buying it.
Although the diamond engagement ring has come to be the norm, it wasn't always. Almost any hard stone such as emerald, ruby or sapphire can make a beautiful and unique engagement ring. Companies such as Turtle Love Committee (TLC) specialize in creating unique engagement rings with unusual stones. If you have environmental reasons for not wanting a diamond engagement ring, make sure to discuss the possibility of using recycled gold, silver or platinum for the band of your ring.
Although most African diamonds have a troubled past, there are conflict-free diamonds from places such as Canada. If this is important to you, verify that your diamond is certified conflict-free. Companies such as Brilliant Earth specialize in providing conflict-free diamonds.
In nature, it takes a really long time to create a diamond. Labs can use pressure and heat to actually create diamonds – in a lot less time. This process has been used for a long time to create tools and other supplies, but has just recently been used for creating jewelry. Lab grown diamonds are not fake diamonds (cubic zirconia). They are real diamonds created in an alternative environment.
Although there is much more information about environmentally responsible jewelry available today then there has been in the past, buying a ring that is truly conflict-free as well as eco- and budget-friendly definitely takes more leg work than a traditional ring. Make sure that any jeweler you work with can prove his claims, and that your desire to be responsible isn't being taken advantage of by an irresponsible jeweler.
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