Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going Green With Style: Diamonds and Jewelry

Diamonds. We've all seen them sparkling in the sunlight, or in the well lit cases of a jewelry store. But did the thought ever cross your mind that someone may have died for that beautiful diamond you are planning to purchase?
In 2006 the movie Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou, was released, thus sparking public awareness of blood diamonds and their mass effects. This gripping movie, set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1999, tells of the devastating effects of blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance the conflicts, and profit the warlords and the diamond companies across the world. This well designed interactive map is very interesting and tells much of the historical events occurring in the "blood diamond" industry.
Now that I have totally depressed all my readers, here is a positive note! According to Diamond Facts, more than 99% of diamonds are now from conflict free sources and traded under the unmandated Kimberely Process. However, it is still important to make sure you are getting a conflict free diamond, and still keeping things eco-friendly. Here are some things to keep in kind when shopping for jewelry:

The Kimberley Process Certification
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was adopted in 2002, and outlines the regulations and requirements countries must follow to make sure a diamond is mined and shipped in a humane, legitimate way. When buying a diamond, ask the jeweler to provide the Kimberley Process Certificate, as all diamonds that meet these regulations are shipped with the certificate. If they can't provide this for you, be wary of the stone's origin.(Picture via Kimberley Process.)

Talk to your Jeweler
Any well-established, reputable jeweler should be able to tell you about a diamond's history and guarantee that it's conflict-free. To make sure that your jeweler is telling you the truth, ask to see the diamond's System of Warranties statement. Do your research before visiting the jewelry store so you know what these certificates look like before you shop. Check out Diamond Facts for examples.

Get your diamond from an eco-friendly source
We've all heard of Tiffany and Co., but you may not be aware that this renowned jewelry company deals exclusively with suppliers who use environmentally sound, conflict-free mining. Another great source for conflict free diamonds is Brilliant Earth. Their diamonds come from Canada, and 5 percent of their profits are donated to a fund to benefit local African communities harmed by the diamond industry. There are many more places to shop for conflict free diamonds; just be sure to do your research. (Picture: Left two Tiffany and Co., right two Brilliant Earth)

Vintage Gems
Consider using a family heirloom in your wedding ring. This will save the energy that would have gone into mining a diamond because you are using an existing one! Besides being eco friendly and conflict free, using a diamond that's been in your family is so much more meaningful. My engagement ring houses my great aunt's diamond from her engagement ring and it means so much to me. So when you can, consider vintage! (Picture via Flickr)

Diamond Substitutes
I'm not talking about cubic zirconia here! Adia diamonds are identical to natural diamonds, but are produced in a lab rather than mined. These gems have the exact structure, density, and composition of naturally occurring diamonds. Moissanite stone is also another option. Made from silicon carbonite (a rare and naturally occurring substance) moissanite can also be manufactured in a lab and is completely earth-friendly and conflict-free. These gemstones are also less expensive and more durable than the traditional diamond. (Pictures via Adia Diamonds)

Eco-friendly Gold
Diamonds are not the only place on your rings to be eco-friendly. To really go for the gold (I had to put that little pun in there!), find a ring with recycled gold. Recycled gold simply means that the gold was melted down and re-refined, making it the same quality as a newly mined metal. No Dirty Gold has a list of retailers who support this process. Another option would be wood. That's right, wood! Simply Wooden Rings has some beautiful options all made from wood, and embellished with eco friendly diamonds. (pictures via Simply Wooden Rings.)

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