Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Eco-Friendly Wedding Jewelry
Learn about the sustainable practices, source materials, and socially-conscious methods to determine what makes certain jewelry eco-friendly!
Whether you try not to lean into trends and fast fashion, curate a capsule wardrobe for each season, or attempt to limit how much you shop, there are plenty of ways to keep the environment in mind for your everyday look. But have you ever paused to consider whether or not your jewelry is eco-friendly? Unfortunately, many pieces are not, and it’s definitely not due to the errors of a single person (you simply can’t fix what you don’t know about!). However, the good news is there are plenty of ways to start to embrace eco-friendly style for your wedding day (and beyond)—and you can begin with something as meaningful as your engagement ring.
Below, we’re offering a primer on why jewelry typically isn’t eco-friendly, the terms you should know, what to look for while you shop, and which brands you can trust to create beautiful pieces that also keep the planet and its people at the heart of every design.
Why isn’t some jewelry eco-friendly?
Just like a lot of clothing, many pieces of jewelry are not eco-friendly due to the processes required to produce each piece. Many diamonds are mined, which can emit chemicals (and more) into the environment due to the depths workers must go to reach them, and deforestation is prominent. Plus, diamonds must be transported to design houses in order for them to be transformed into rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, which promotes a reliance on transportation and the supply chain. Essentially, most of the jewelry creation process involves chemicals and the movement of products, which all causes pollution.
Beyond that though, some jewelry practices are not kind to people. The workers at some diamond mines are not treated well or compensated fairly. As a result, full communities can be negatively impacted by diamond mining. However, there are practices that are now in play to keep people safe–more on that below!
What is the Kimberly Process?
The Kimberly Process is an initiative that “is a multilateral trade regime established in 2003 with the goal of preventing the flow of conflict diamonds.” Essentially, by choosing to adhere to the Kimberly Process, jewelry companies agree to only purchase and use diamonds in their designs that are from sources that do not use the gems to fund violence.
Many of the companies we highlight below adhere to the Kimberly Process if they choose to purchase mined diamonds. Other companies look to lab-grown diamonds for their engagement rings and fine jewelry pieces.
What is the difference between a mined diamond, a lab-grown diamond, and a recycled diamond?
A mined diamond is exactly that — a diamond that is grown underground and unearthed in a mine. This is a practice that is typically not very eco-friendly.
A lab-grown diamond is one that is grown in a lab. In many cases, these diamonds are much more eco-friendly. The key thing to keep in mind is a lab-grown diamond is a real diamond!
A recycled diamond is an existing diamond that is reused to create a new setting. Examples of this can include reshaping a diamond, resetting a ring, or using a diamond from another piece of jewelry to create something new. These diamonds can originate from conflict (those that don’t adhere to the Kimberly Process), but the difference is because the diamond is being recycled it is not coming from a harmful situation again.
What should I look for while shopping for an eco-friendly engagement ring?
Some companies have eco-friendly lines, while others boast an entire eco-friendly business. So, make sure the ring you purchase truly is eco-friendly. (There will likely be plenty of notes about this in the ring’s description!) You will also want to consider how a jewelry company’s lab operates if they produce lab-grown diamonds (solar, wind, and hydropower are big wins!), what materials are used to create the metal elements on the ring (some companies use some or 100% recycled metal), how they package their items, and how far away the creative studio is from your home (a U.S. base is key). Mentions about the Kimberly Process are also very important!
Where should I shop for an eco-friendly engagement ring?
The excellent news about eco-friendly engagement rings is there are plenty of companies who have jumped on board with this practice! To learn about some of the best resources we’ve found, check out this post on 10 Eco-friendly Engagement Ring Companies.
Are you considering an eco-friendly engagement ring? What has stood out the most to you while you’ve been researching? We would love for you to share in our community!