New couples are fortunate to have endless options when it comes to choosing their engagement and wedding rings. More and more couples are looking to choose pieces that not only look beautiful but make them feel good about their purchase. If you’re looking to find an ethical alternative to a mined diamond there are more options than ever, making it easier to check those important boxes. If you’re looking for an ethical engagement ring, but are unsure where to start, we’ve gathered everything you need to know before you embark on this exciting next step.
What Are Conflict Diamonds?
You may have heard the term “conflict-free” when referring to lab-grown diamonds, but what exactly does this mean? Let’s start with conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds, or ‘blood diamonds’, are defined as diamonds that are, “illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa, according to the World Diamond Council, which represents the commercial diamond trade” (source CNN). In 2000, deciding enough was enough, over 70 countries, the United Nations, the World Diamond Council, and the European Union agreed upon an organization aimed at encouraging ethically sourced or “conflict-free diamonds”, commonly known as the Kimberley Process.
The Kimberly Process
The goal of the Kimberly Process was to push out individuals who were still participating in illegitimate practices and try to bring peace to many of the war-torn areas where these diamonds are extracted. Its purpose is to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream diamond-trade market. However, while the Kimberly Process has done a great job in bringing down the crime rates, there have been other concerns. It has been discovered that members of the Kimberly Process were continuing unethical practices and getting away with it due to lax political will. The Kimberly Process has also been criticized for its lack of transparency. But it should be noted that still about 99.8% of the rough diamonds on the open market are accounted for by this process, which has helped to create jobs, save lives, and supported governments where conflict-diamond trading has traditionally supported armed rebellion.
Conflict-Free Mined Diamonds?
If you are looking for a conflict-free diamond, you will find that many traditional mined diamond retailers will promote their diamonds as “conflict-free.” However, while this sounds like a great option for those looking for an ethical engagement ring, the sad reality is that there is no way to ensure that a mined diamond is 100% conflict-free. Whenever a diamond is going from a mine all the way to your finger it’s extremely difficult, if not close to impossible, to track it individually. Remember the supply chain of mined diamonds. These diamonds that are mined together, transported to be cut and polished, moved again to be graded, then possibly transported multiple times to arrive at distribution companies. With diamonds coming from all regions of the world, from Botswana to Russia to Canada, it is a long journey for a small diamond to make. With so many steps, it’s hard to be 100% sure that those mined diamonds are truly a ‘conflict-free’ diamond.
Conflict-Free Lab-Grown Diamonds
The only way you can be sure that your diamond is conflict-free is by purchasing a lab-grown diamond. Lab-grown diamonds provide a 100% conflict-free solution, without forcing buyers to settle for non-diamond simulants. Made in a lab, there are no unethical practices happening during this high-tech process, giving you and your partner pure peace of mind with your purchase. However, even when purchasing a lab-grown diamond from a reputable source, be sure that your entire ring is crafted with lab-grown diamonds. There are retailers who will use a lab-grown center diamond, but the accent diamonds (on a pavé band or three-stone setting) will actually be mined diamonds. Be careful and be sure to do your research before purchasing an engagement ring with any brand.
Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Traditionally, brides have chosen mined diamonds as their center stone, with round cut diamonds being the most popular shape (then and now). Today, brides are getting more creative and choosing styles and gemstones that represent their personal styles. Lab-grown diamonds are the most ethical choice a bride can make for their engagement ring. But beyond that, lab-created diamonds have other amazing benefits.
We’ve previously gone over the long supply chain that traditionally mined diamonds must go through to go from the mine to an engagement ring. This long supply chain contributes to the overall cost of that diamond. Because lab-grown diamonds remove the mining process, thus making the supply chain much shorter, these diamonds can be priced much less than their mined counterparts. In fact, lab-grown diamonds are around 20-40% less expensive. This will allow you to: Save money, use those savings to get a better quality diamond in terms of the 4 C’s, or purchase a more expensive setting.
With the removal of the mining process, lab-created diamonds are inherently and significantly less detrimental to the environment as it takes less energy and resources to grow a diamond inside a lab than it does to dig it up from the ground. 1ct of mined diamond = nearly 100 sqft of disturbed land & almost 6000 lbs of mineral waste. 1ct of lab-grown diamonds disrupt just 0.07 sqft of land & only 1 lb of mineral waste. It’s incredible that couples today are able to purchase a diamond that is 100%, chemically and physically identical to a mined diamond, but without the negative impacts on the environment.