Jaime in the Sky With Diamonds?

Engagement rings seem to be the topic of conversation these days. (Calm down! Just talking in general!) As much as I like glamour and flashy things, I don’t quite thing I’m a diamond sort of girl. While discussing the alternatives to diamonds, I was informed that the diamond mining industry can be a pretty horrible thing!

Before I continue, let me add this DISCLAIMER: In NO WAY is my intent to demean the value and priceless worth of anyone with a diamond engagement ring. Just posting food for thought.

Here’s an excerpt about “conflict diamonds”:

Conflict diamonds are not just a public-relations problem. About one in every ten gem diamonds, it has been estimated, is smuggled from four African nations—Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola—that feed money to a large black market. Some of the profits go to criminal gangs, some to brutal ruling regimes, some to outright terrorists. And the stones are mined under oppressive conditions for the smallest of wages, using methods that damage the countryside.


In the past I had done searches on engagement rings (just lookin!) and found websites for “conflict-free diamond rings”, though I admit I didn’t understand what it meant. Brilliant Earth is at the forefront of conflict-free diamond jewelry, or they at least have the best marketing. They make a promise to socially and environmentally responsible mining – Diamonds have a guarantee to be carefully tracked to ensure no (or little) environmental devastation and that citizens and workers are treated fairly.

In the other side, you have economies boosted by the sales of diamonds. But at what price?

This is a new topic for me – I am sharing the tiny bit of information I’ve researched, and hope if you have any information about the diamond industry, for or against, you’ll supply it in the comments!

14 thoughts on “Jaime in the Sky With Diamonds?

  1. I am not a diamond-kind-of-girl either Jaime, so I ended up getting a Tourmaline in a beautiful brown/pinkish color & I love it! There are many alternatives to diamonds (which are used because how strong of a stone they are). Anyway, while I was researching gems that would also stand the test of time, I found that many precious stones are mined. So, you must do your research even if you do not want a diamond because it doesn’t mean that it conflict-free!!!

    • OOohh.. I would love to creepily stare at your ring next time I see you!

      Thank you for the input, Helene. As I said, this is something I NEVER even thought about until this just came up in a conversation, so I’m eager to know more about the the whole issue, but also – what’s a girl to do!? As in, what are some not-horrible alternatives? Thank you for responding!

  2. Things I know about!

    There’s a great write-up about diamond engagement rings at Slate.com:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2167870/

    Which is basically everything you need to know about it.

    My issues with diamonds are:

    They’re a really boring stone, visually.
    They’re not even rare (only thanks to de Beers’ monopoly are they outrageously priced).
    We only think of engagement rings as something that happens because they’ve been heavily marketed at us.
    There are smarter things to blow “two months’ salary” on (two months’ salary is the recommended amount you spend on a diamond, according to the official literature from some professional jeweler’s association).

    I don’t even intend on getting married, ever. But if it comes up, I have a few heirloom/estate options I already own if my man wants to “put a ring on it.”

    Unfortunately the reality is that most gems—not just diamonds—come from environmentally and socioeconomically disastrous conditions.😦

    • Katherine, thank you once again for your infinite wisdom🙂

      I sometimes go back and forth two on the whole idea of a ring – the freshman year of college gender studies student wants to whine about how gross it is that it marks us as “property” or “belonging to” someone else, blah blah.

      On the reverse, I feel that if you personally are so pleased in a healthy and loving relationship and it makes you feel proud to be so in love, why not show it off?

      Over the past year or two I have also explored the concept of marriage – not just “oh whatever I’m married”, but like… REALLY, what is marriage? Being engaged or married carries a lot more weight to people across the world than having a boyfriend or girlfriend. In a perfect world, marriage increases the level of respect among those in the relationship and those outside.

      Annnyhow, as for rings, I LOVE the idea of estate jewelry, 1) because, like most second-hand items, it’s the least harmful way to shop, and 2) I like vintage stuff!

      Do you have any information about mining other times of stones and gems? The lid just flew off this whole idea and I want to know more!

      • There are four big gem-mining “spots” in the world:

        1. Africa (my African geography is laughable and so I can’t point you to direct countries)
        2. India
        3. China
        4. Australia
        5. Sri Lanka
        6. South America

        We used to have a big map in our lunchroom at the cave (heh, not the strip club in Philly, the cave in Hellertown) of the localities of various (semi-) precious stones and the biggest concentration of dots was in those locales, but you can find stuff all over. Just to smaller degrees. (Did you know you can find amethyst out in Amish country?! Down in the south it’s also relatively rich with pretty stones.) I can tell you right now, though, that the source for most of our incoming stock is China, Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.

        Exceptions: we get glass from Austria and the Czech Republic, some of our lapis from Afghanistan, and some turquoise from out West (Arizona, New Mexico, etc.).

        And even if the economic ethics on these stones are on the up-and-up, many of the mines are still (most likely) environmental disasters. Strip-mining, etc. The money is needed more than the conservation and oversight.

        Fortunately there are synthetic (aka, lab-grown) options available for pretty much anything. Either that or estate would probably have the least “footprint” behind it.

        Precious metals are equally disastrous, environmentally, but are a lot more local to home. Plus, with metals, there is the chance for recycling/reclamation. “Green” gold wedding bands are an option nowadays. There’s only so much of it in the world, too. All of the total platinum in the Earth’s crust could fit into a space about the size of your typical American living room.

        Reading:

        http://www.allaboutgemstones.com/gem_history.html

  3. Hey, when I thought I wanted to get engaged (the world and relationships change so quickly due to life circumstances) I checked in with my jeweler (who happens to be my aunt, if you need a jeweler let me know she is amazing!) about conflict free gems. I was in no way going to put a ‘blood diamond’ on my hand. She informed me that ever diamond she purchases goes through the kimberly process (check it out here: http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/) which deems it free of conflict. If you are considering and concerned about this kind of thing I’d check in with your jeweler and have a convo about it before you purchase the gems.
    Also, I love the idea of estate jewelry for all the same reasons you do, however what makes me pause is knowing that there may not have been documentation or processes in place when it was made to ensure it was conflict free.
    Just thought I’d share what I had considered on the same topic. Hope it helps!

    • Tracy, it’s GREAT to hear from you, thank you for chiming in! You brought up some more food for thought (pun intended? eh?) and this is all great stuff to explore further. I love what you said about talking to a jeweler – I assume if they are anybody worth working with, they won’t be weirded out or offended if this topic comes up🙂 Thank you!

  4. When i got engaged i gave susan my great great grandmothers in engagement ring and wedding band. I had researched other rings and looked into synthetic diamonds made by Apollo, but thenn my father offered me the family ring. I think that estate or heirloom rings are probably the most green and meaningful. U know the first thing Susan says when someone asks her is that it was my grandma Sally’s ring.

    • Aww that’s beautfiul, Jenny, it gave me goosebumps🙂 I don’t think I knew you guys were engaged officially, but CONGRATS, she is so purdy and I love spying on your facebook photos🙂

  5. My now-husband and I struggled with this as we started looking for a ring. I didn’t want a diamond due to the above issues but all the other stones had some sort of color to them and I couldn’t imagine wearing a colored stone all the time (I obsessively match things). We found a great alternative:

    Moissanite.

    It’s a clear, lab-created gem with very similar properties of a diamond (it’s very nearly as “hard” as a diamond and the refraction is a bit different—making it optically more “sparkly”). It’s also a bit cheaper than a diamond—which meant I could get a bigger rock.😀

    • Julie Mack, get the heck out, nice to see you!
      I am not familiar with this at all, but so kind of you to post and give your 2 cents on the topic! You should post a photo of your awesome jewel🙂

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