Five Key Points To Consider When Purchasing Ethical Jewelry
Recycled precious metal, fair trade gems, fair trade gold, Canadian diamonds, Namibian- Kalahari Diamond, Botswana diamonds... How do you differentiate between all these products and the companies making claims for their ethical jewelry sourcing?
The truth is that basically, there's a small group of us producing ethical wedding rings, paying for Google Ad words and sourcing from many of the same companies. The supply chain is very limited. Many of us at this point in the game know each other and some of us are even friends. So what are the differences between all of these ethical jewelry companies?
1.) The most critical issue in the purchase of ethical wedding rings is that you can trace the jewelry back from mine to market, along the entire supply chain, including manufacturing. Knowing how your ring is made from mine to market will enable you to make your own informed decision. The rest of the points below, expand on this one point.
2.) Check out the ethos of the company, as expressed through its marketing. The acid test is how they talk about 'conflict free' diamonds for your ethical engagement ring. If a company tries to tell you about natural diamonds as being 'conflict free,' they are hiding information. There's no such thing. All natural diamonds have their impact, and some companies marketing Canadian as 'conflict free,' minimize the environmental impact of mining in the Northwest territories.
3.) Everyone in the ethical jewelry space is using the term 'fair trade' to describe their product. It is an important key word. Fair trade diamonds do not exist. Fair trade gemstones is a concept that is in it's infancy. But there are people working in the spirit of fair trade. Learn more here...
4.) How your ring is physically made is an important issue. The manufacturing issue is one thing that is bypassed in much of the marketing of ethical engagement rings. If you buy a straight band that looks like so much other jewelry on the market, the company probably does not want to tell you that your ring is being mass produced from a CAD program or stamped out with a machine.
One way you can tell what is going on is by looking at the image. If the image of the ring looks fake and not photographed on the website, it was rendered on CAD. This means that the company probably makes mainly commercial jewelry which involves lots of machine work and little individual artisan work. Our view is that the finest work is hand made by an artisan. These things may or not matter to you, but if they do, then ask about their manufacturing. Who made the ring?
5.) All precious metal comes from the Earth. That involves some conflict with the environment at some point. In definitions of 'conflict free,' the environment and human rights are often not considered. The best two options are recycled precious metal or fair trade precious metal, which is now available mostly in the EU and costs more. Any gold that's outside of these two options you should assume contains dirty gold, a product seeped in human and environmental misery.
In sum, there are only a few things you need to consider, no matter where you purchase your wedding ring or engagement ring. Where does the metal come from, where does the gem come from, and how is the ring made? It is the rare company that can answer all these questions transparently.