Ethical Engagement Rings – The Diamond Revolution
When it comes to a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ purchase like an engagement ring, the romance and excitement of the process can overshadow some disturbing truths, whilst encouraging a convenient turning of a blind eye to the environmental, human and animal suffering caused by diamond mining.
The human suffering caused by the diamond mining industry is well known. ‘Blood diamonds’, also known as ‘conflict diamonds’, are diamonds that have been mined in a conflict zone and then sold to finance militia groups or a warlord’s activity. Untold numbers of civilians have been injured and killed during such brutal blood diamond-fueled wars, and civil wars in African countries like Angola, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone have been particularly vicious and caused a huge amount of suffering.
Those employed to mine diamonds in conflict zones are forced to work in atrocious, highly dangerous conditions where injury and death are commonplace. Protection for those working in diamond mines is often abysmal and miners are routinely exploited and abused by their employers. Amnesty International reports that children as young as 11 have been forced to mine diamonds in back-breaking conditions in the Central African Republic. Whilst the export of diamonds from CAR was banned in 2012, Amnesty says that as soon as the government meets a series of recently set conditions, the trading ban will be lifted and the country’s blood diamonds are highly likely to again be sold on the international market.
Regardless of whether a diamond is classed as ‘conflict-free’, environmentally fragile ecosystems are destroyed irreparably wherever diamonds are mined, with an estimated average of 1750 tonnes of earth having to be moved to find just one carat of natural diamond.
Diamond mining is a destructive and harmful process which is nearly always overlooked in the procurement of most engagement rings. Whilst most people are aware of the atrocities caused by the natural diamond industry, a lack of awareness and knowledge of the alternatives means that most people will still opt for a natural stone. The fact is there are now valid and worthy alternatives available to natural diamonds, to the point where there is simply no need or justification for supporting and endorsing the cycle of violence and destruction that is an inevitable by-product of opting for a natural stone.
The ethical diamond alternatives that are available range in their nature, price and overall value. The technology exists to create pure man-made diamonds, but the technology is not developed enough to create an abundance of quality stones of any decent size, nor any reasonable price. Many of these technologies also include growing a diamond by using a natural diamond, which somewhat misses the point! There are technologies however which allow real man-made diamond to be built into a non-diamond core, creating an outer layer of diamond with all the visual characteristics of a natural stone. This technology also allows the quality of the stone (in terms of the four C’s of colour, clarity, cut and carat) to be far more easily regulated in order to create top quality stones every time, and at a price point that represents real value.
MADE Diamonds are a UK-based company who have been satisfying UK consumers’ desire for natural diamond alternatives for many years. Their stones are created in a laboratory in the USA rather than mined from the ground, and therefore they avoid any kind of ecological degradation or human suffering. These technologically advanced stones are then set within traditionally handmade limited edition rings which are made-to-order in their workshop located in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. MADE Diamonds offer all the traditionalism of a British-made handcrafted ring combined with an advanced, ethical, laboratory-made stone; hence their motto “Tradition & Progress”.
Being such an important and meaningful purchase, an engagement ring should represent your values, and there are few greater purchasing opportunities to cast a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. Purchasing power is one of the best ways we can influence the world. When it comes to an item of such significance and value as an engagement ring there is a real opportunity to show your support for an ethical and progressive brand, whilst symbolically denouncing the harmful, corrupt and out-dated natural diamond industry.
An engagement ring is a piece of jewellery to be worn every day for the rest of one’s life, and as such it holds a significant amount of meaning. If you are thinking about purchasing an engagement ring for your partner, consider opting for a ring which represents the values of your significant other. If on the other hand you’re expecting a proposal in the near future, drop hints (or even insist!) on a ring which is in line with your ethical standards.
For more information and to view MADE Diamonds’ current range of limited edition engagement rings visit www.madediamonds.co.uk