Many brides and grooms are opting to plan a “green” or “eco-friendly” wedding, making earth and environmental friendly decisions as they plan their wedding. Couples can incorporate “green” considerations into almost every aspect of wedding planning – from what kind of paper the wedding invitations are printed on, to what kind of wedding toss you’ll use after the wedding ceremony, to what you do with the left over food after your catered event, to selecting eco-friendly wedding rings, and much more. In this article, we’ll focus specifically on how to select eco-friendly or conflict free wedding rings.
What are Eco-Friendly Wedding Rings or Conflict Free Diamonds?
Eco-Friendly wedding rings or Conflict Free diamonds are rings and diamonds whose profits are not used to fund wars and which are also produced and mined under ethical human rights and sustainable environmental conditions. For diamonds, only those that are certified and can be traced from the mine to the consumer are considered conflict-free diamonds. By having wedding rings that are eco-friendly or conflict free (for example, recycled precious metals and stones), it can reflect your commitment to a sustainable lifestyle and preserving the earth for generations to come.
Are you concerned that “green” wedding rings might not be as nice or durable? Don’t be fooled that wedding rings made of recycled precious metals are drab and dreary looking! A good jeweler can match the look of practically any designer wedding ring and perhaps even add some additional nice eco-friendly touches you might have in mind. So, be sure to bring along pictures of your favorite rings to show the jeweler so that they can match your favorite style as closely as possible.
Some Background on Conflict Diamond Concerns
Since the early 20th century, diamond-rich territories have suffered profound devastation for their wealth. The term “conflict diamond” (or “blood diamond”, “hot diamond” or “war diamond”) refers to diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to fund devastating civil wars in those regions (such as Angola, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Burma, and Venezuela) that ended millions of lives were traced back to the diamond trade. These conflict diamond funds have led to unprecedented violence, human rights abuses, the exploitation of child labor, environmental devastation such as the poisoning of local water sources or the pollution of rich agricultural soil, and the proliferation of terrorist organizations.
Although most people in the diamond industry are well aware of the existence of conflict diamonds, up until now, it has been extremely difficult to verify if a diamond is a conflict diamond and under what dire conditions that it may have been produced. This is because these conflict diamonds have been smuggled into other regions, adding to the general circulation of diamonds, thereby making them indistinguishable from the rest of the diamond supply.
The diamond industry attempted to address the problem of conflict diamonds by outlining a process called the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme by which a diamond’s origin could be certified. And, in 2002, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was approved by the United Nations. Despite these and other efforts, however, conflict diamonds still exist.
Available Options for eco-friendly or conflict-free wedding rings:
When shopping for wedding rings, ask the merchant for certificates of origin which will tell you where the diamonds or gemstones originated from.
Purchase US or Canadian mined gemstones.
Purchase synthetic stones so that you can eliminate the mining issue and be sure you are purchasing “green” jewelry.
Shop with jewelry companies that have pledged to go “green” (use sustainable materials and fair trade practices in all aspects of diamond production and sales) – such as Tiffany’s, The Signet Group, Cartier, Zales, etc.
Consider handcrafted, beautiful wooden wedding rings, although wooden rings may have sizing and durability issues. An option would be to consider a wood-inlaid titanium ring. Note that some wood types are considered endangered species such as teak or mahogany – so look for wood types that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or other similar governing organizations. Consider having one custom made for you.
Search for vintage jewelry because no new resources were used to make the ring. Vintage jewelry can be uniquely beautiful. Antique rings, estate rings, or heirloom rings would also fall in this category which are highly collectible.
Consider recycled metals – shop with jewelers, such as greenKarat.com, that only use recycled or reclaimed gold and synthetic stones. Or gather up your old jewelry and have a jeweler re-make a new ring for you using your own recycled jewelry. This is important because an average pair of wedding rings made from non-recycled metal results in tons of waste.
Don’t purchase a NEW diamond, buy USED jewelry. For example, a ring passed down through your family from generation to generation would be a wonderful green choice.
Consider a wedding ring made of coconut – which is light weight and strong.
Shop for fair trade gold and platinum. 18 carat gold and platinum from reprocessed sources is an option.
If you are looking for conflict free diamonds, try to find diamonds that are grown in a laboratory which is a popular alternative.
Have a wedding ring made for you out of a silver coin (one from 1964 or earlier). More recent coins are not made of all silver so they may look as good. For example, a silver quarter makes a nice woman’s wedding ring, and a silver half-dollar can make a nice men’s wedding ring.
Bamboo rings are a trendy alternative. Bamboo is very durable and renewable. You can have it stained to whatever lightness or darkness that suits you.
Try a tattoo ring! A slightly painful alternative!
Consider cultured pearls which are farmed through aquaculture (water). This is considered a lot less damaging on the environment than mining for gemstones on land.
Consider glass beads over plastic which is not easily recyclable.
Consider created gemstones rather than natural gemstones. An example of this would be cubic zirconias.
What search terms to use when scouring the internet for eco-friendly wedding ring choices?
- alternatives to diamonds
- eco conscious jewelry
- hand crafted rings
- vintage jewelry
- ecologically responsible jewelry
- conflict free diamonds
- fair trade gold and platinum
- eco-gold jewelry
- certified conflict free jewelry
- recycled precious metal ring
- fair trade precious trade metal
- eco-friendly jewelry
- antique rings
- Brilliant Earth
Making the choice to select eco-friendly or conflict free wedding rings is a wonderful first step to show your support for a sustainable planet