It was a beautiful warm summer’s day on the beach in Malibu when my fiancé got down on one knee and asked me for my hand in marriage. The sun was just setting as the waves crashed against the beach. It was the perfect setting for a romantic proposal.
The only thing that was unusual was that he didn’t have a ring in hand.
I know what you’re thinking – how could he have proposed without a ring? Well, we decided beforehand that we would shop for the ring together. And only purchase a conflict-free diamond. I didn’t have a clue about what conflict diamonds were until my fiancé explained to me.
By: Kathy Lee
Amnesty International reports that an estimated 3.7 million people have died as the result of violence fueled by conflict diamonds.
Profits from conflict diamonds have financed wars and been used to force over 100,000 child soldiers to fight in wars. Workers who toil in the mines often earn less than $1 a day.
However – summer is still the most popular season for weddings. And that means more diamonds are being purchased than any other time of year.
Diamonds are beautiful and we’ve come to associate them with the union of man and wife, but they can come at the cost of human lives.
So when you’re shopping for a diamond ring, how can you be sure it is conflict-free?
There are several key factors to buying an ethically-sourced diamond ring. I used these when I was shopping for an engagement ring with my fiancé and found the perfect conflict-free ring for a great price. Discovering the diamond’s journey – starting from where it was mined to how it arrived at market – is key when buying conflict-free diamonds.
1. Mine To Market
Every jeweler should know the origin of their diamonds and how each one got to their shelves. If you ask them, they should have no problem telling you a diamond’s origin and showing you a certificate, like a Kimberley Process Certificate.
The Kimberley Process Certification scheme was established to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the market. It requires buyers and sellers to declare diamonds to have been purchased by legitimate sources not involved in conflict.
But – keep in mind that just because a diamond may have a KP certificate doesn’t mean it was ethically-sourced.
Canada is a country well-known for conflict-free diamonds.
2. Jewelers With Ethical Commitment
Many jewelers have caught on the trend of conflict-free diamonds and are aligning themselves with this ethical standard. For one, Tiffany & Co. is a popular brand that has aligned itself with conflict-free, ethically-sourced diamond rings. Ask the jeweler about their ethical commitment before buying from them.
3. Synthetic Diamonds
Synthetic diamonds are an excellent opportunity for you to acquire a perfectly-cut diamond that is conflict-free.
In many ways, synthetic diamonds are better than natural diamonds.
They are harder than natural diamonds, which makes them more resistant to scratches and dents. Synthetic diamonds are free of impurities, unlike geological diamonds. If you want to buy a conflict-free diamond ring and can get over the stigma of a synthetic diamond, you can get a higher-quality diamond for a better price.
4. Identify Written Policy On Ethical Sourcing
Most jewelers that are committed to ethical sourcing will post a visible notice or declaration of their conflict-free standard. If you don’t see something posted in the jeweler you visit or on their website, feel free to ask them about it.
Exercise caution with a jeweler that doesn’t advertise or display their commitment to ethically-sourced diamonds. This should be a red flag for you that they don’t share the same commitment.
Buying ethically-sourced, conflict-free diamond rings doesn’t have to be a suspicious and mysterious process. If you want to know about a ring’s origin, just ask. Ask to see the certificates, and find out the journey from mine to market. Find out if the jeweler is taking a stand for ethically-sourced diamonds, and look for a written policy. Consider synthetically-sourced diamonds if you are willing, as they are oftentimes better in quality and more affordable.
Purchasing a conflict-free diamond is important to me because I don’t want the symbol of my union to fund civil wars and contribute to the diamond-fueled violence in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, and the Republic of Congo.
It is important to me that my purchase doesn’t support child labor and that the workers who mined my diamond are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions. I wouldn’t be able to find happiness in my union if it meant that another person had to suffer.
As citizens of the world, we have a social responsibility to to look after the well-being of others. Researching where our money goes when we make a purchase and how it affects the lives of others is the first step toward making a difference.
I am grateful that my fiancé opened my eyes to the importance of purchasing a conflict-free diamond and look forward to spending the rest of my life with him.
Kathy Lee is an associate beauty editor at Her Glow Up, a beauty site offering makeup reviews, beauty tips, and more.