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What is an ethical engagement ring?

5 min read

What is an ethical engagement ring?

An engagement ring is a forever jewel; an everyday symbol of a cherished moment in time. Naturally, quality craftsmanship and the right aesthetic are incredibly important. Equally as significant, however, is the journey your ring took before it reached your finger. Gleaming metal and glistening gemstones are magnificent at surface level, but true beauty lies deeper. No one’s forever jewel should be marred by a dubious lack of traceability; yours should tell a story that you’re proud to share.

Here at Lebrusan Studio, we know we’re not the only people who feel this way. Conscious consumerism is on the rise, with significant spikes in online search terms like ‘recycled’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ reported last year. Research in 2021 also revealed that a jewel’s sustainability claims are now just as important as its price when shoppers are deciding what to purchase. It’s feasible, then, that the phrase ‘ethical engagement ring’ has presented itself to you at least once or twice.

But what does it actuallymean?

 

WHAT MAKES AN ENGAGEMENT RING ETHICAL?

In simple terms, an ethical engagement ring is one created with minimal negative impact on the environment and no violations of human rights. Even better is if its existence has given back, in some way, to the communities responsible for bringing it into fruition.

Historically, the mining of precious metals and gemstones has been responsible for unimaginable violations of human rights and destruction on devastating scales – from toxic waste spills to mercury pollution, displacement of communities, slave labour and beyond. Still today, a shocking number of jewellers continue to source materials with murky backstories for the sake of affordability and mass production.

However, ethical jewellers understand that it is now possible to enjoy the beautiful gifts offered up by Mother Nature without needing to associate with any of the organisations driving these atrocities. Thanks to a variety of wonderful materials, certifications, suppliers and manufacturers, we’re able to create engagement rings that are beautiful outside AND in.

An ethical engagement ring can take on a multitude of guises, each depending on the materials and processes involved. Here, we’ll talk you through the variety of ways we ensure that our engagement rings are as ethical as they can possibly be.

 

 

ETHICAL METALS

FAIRTRADE GOLD, FAIRMINED ECOLOGICAL GOLD AND 100% RECYCLED GOLD AND PLATINUM

Arguably the most fundamental element of an engagement ring, metal is the glue that binds the magic together. There are a number of sustainable metal options available, and we’ve chosen those above.

Fairtrade and Fairmined certifications are only awarded to artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations that have proven themselves to adhere to a certain standard of practise principles. In other words, Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined Ecological Gold are mined under safe working conditions by miners who are paid appropriate wages and afforded the opportunity to trade their gold internationally and under fair terms. Environmental sustainability is taken into consideration (particularly in the instance of Fairmined Ecological Gold, which is mined using no toxic chemicals whatsoever), and additional funding is allocated for community projects.

As newly mined metal, Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined Ecological Gold don't boast the environmental 'neutrality' of recycled metals, but the socioeconomic benefits of the Fairtrade and Fairmined initiatives are plentiful. If sustaining miners, their families and their communities appeals to you, a certified ASM gold like Fairtrade Gold or Fairmined Ecological Gold would be a great fit for your ethical engagement ring.

On the flip side, recycled metals avoid the need for further mining altogether, instead utilising material that's already above ground. If minimising your carbon footprint is your utmost priority, opting for 100% recycled gold or platinum is a clever means of doing so.

 

ETHICAL STONES

CONFLICT-FREE CANADIAN DIAMONDS, RECYCLED DIAMONDS AND FAIR-TRADED COLOURED GEMSTONES

No engagement ring is complete without a sparkling centrepiece. Whether you’re wooed by the big and blingy or find yourself drawn to curious hues, luckily there are a variety of ethical stone options for you to choose from.

Diamonds and gemstones can travel through the hands of many dealers until they reach their final destination in a beautiful piece of jewellery. For us, it's vital that we can trace our newly mined treasures back through these long and fragmented journeys. Knowing a diamond or gemstone’s country and mine of origin is key to defining its sustainable credentials, which is why we work with carefully selected and trusted suppliers who can share this information with us. Nearly all of the newly mined diamonds set in our engagement rings are of traceable Canadian origin. Larger stones are even laser-inscribed with a microscopic Canadamark, an independently verified certification confirming where the diamond was extracted and assuring that it was mined under strict Canadian regulations. Meanwhile, our coloured gemstones are sourced from a considered selection of small-scale mines where best practise principles, environmental impact, fair labour conditions and community benefits are of the utmost importance. If stone origin and traceability are your main concerns, a newly mined Canadian diamond or fair-traded coloured gemstone is the choice for you.

Alongside these newly mined and conflict-free gemstones, we also offer recycled diamonds; a beautiful opportunity to rehome a fabled chunk of history and minimise your engagement ring’s strain on our planet. Global warming has reached crisis point, and no matter how fairly traded or carefully sourced, newly mined materials use up valuable resources. It’s vital that we slow down the rate at which we’re consuming water, land and energy. We'll never stop supporting small-scale miners, because they still need an income, but it's time to start striking a balance. By the nature of vintage, reclaimed diamonds don't come with origin assured, and we understand that this lack of traceability doesn't sit comfortably with everyone – but if environmental sustainability is your priority, a recycled diamond is right for you.

 

SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURE

MINIMAL SURPLUS AND TRADITIONAL CRAFT TECHNIQUES

Craft is a language that allows a person to make their mark on the world, channelling history, passion and technique from one generation to the next. For myriad societies, jewellery craft is what the UN would call an ‘intangible cultural heritage’; a relic just as valuable as buildings, monuments and artefacts. When traditional craftsmanship is championed in the present-day, an invaluable flame is kept alight. Maintained is a sense of belonging, as people are afforded a tactile connection to their history – an insight into their heritage.

Great Britain boasts a tremendous history of jewellery craft. From diamond polishers removing minute flaws to diamond mounters setting stones into platinum on a microscopic scale and hand-engravers etching intricate motifs into gold, the people behind our engagement rings maintain centuries of tradition. We choose to commission these small family-run workshops, each specialising in a unique craft, because it’s important to us that these craftspeople can continue doing what they’re doing for years to come.

What’s more, our engagement rings are made to order. This means that each is crafted with love and its lucky new wearer in mind, ensuring minimal surplus.

 

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about ethical jewellery, make sure you sign up below to receive our newsletter and tell a friend about our services. Don’t forget to give us a call or drop us an email if you need further advice.
 
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Love, Arabel & Team
Ruby McGonigle
Ruby McGonigle

Ruby McGonigle is a copywriter and digital marketing professional with over five years of jewellery industry experience. After graduating with a BA in Linguistics, she combined her passions for written word and all things sparkly by joining the Lebrusan Studio team as in-house wordsmith and content creator. Among bi-monthly blog posts, notable examples of Ruby's work include a think-piece on the ‘natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds’ debate, a probe into why traceable and third party certified ASM gold is so important, and an investigation of why platinum is no longer more expensive than gold.