Propose Responsibly – Part Two

Posted on January 30, 2008 by Allie


Right before we got engaged, my husband and I saw a documentary on blood diamonds, and I knew I could never wear one. We went for a ring that’s artsy, original, and diamond-free. I’ve never been a traditionalist though, so there was no sense of loss in not having the classic engagement ring. But if a diamond ring is part of your engagement fantasy, what are your options?

Again, and antique or family heirloom ring is a great way to go. The damage has already been done and when you buy an old ring you’re not supporting the current diamond industry. If you don’t like the idea getting engaged with a ring that belonged to someone else, consider purchasing an old diamond and having it reset in a new ring made from recycled metals.

Canadian-mined diamonds are considered to be conflict-free, but the environmental and social repercussions are still great.

According to Mining Watch:

  1. The (Canadian) mines are often built in environmentally fragile ecosystems, have significant ecological footprints, and will significantly impact upon the caribou, wolverine, bears, ptarmigan and fish which provide food for Aboriginal peoples.
  2. Exploration and mining distort and disrupt the cultural and social lives of Aboriginal peoples and the regional economy and very few of the financial benefits from the mines return to the people who suffer most of the impacts.
  3. The federal, provincial and territorial regulatory frameworks in Canada are inadequate to protect the environment from long term and cumulative environmental effects

Lab grown gemstones like Chatham Created Diamonds are a great option. According to GreenKarat, created diamonds have the same “chemical, optical, and physical properties as their natural counterparts,” without the negative environmental and social impact.

Don’t narrow it down to diamonds either. Opening up your options gives you a wide range of antique and created stones to chose from. Sapphires and rubies are hard enough for every day wear, and the character and variance in stones will make your ring one of a kind, even in a traditional setting.

An engagement ring is nothing more than a token of the love and committment you share. Do a little research, get creative, and make sure your engagement token has a small footprint.

Already have a diamond ring?  Enjoy it and consider passing the ring down through the family later on.

No Comments +

  1. What about asking the jewelers for a certificate stating that the diamond isn’t in fact a blood diamond?

    January 30th, 2008 at 7:50 pm
    Comment by Sid
  2. I watched that same documentary, but man, I still would love me some diamonds.

    January 30th, 2008 at 8:19 pm
    Comment by shelley
  3. Sid — the Kimberly Process ( was set in place to try to track diamonds so they can be certified as conflict-free, but it’s not a fool-proof system. It also doesn’t speak to the environmental issues involved. If you go to and look in the downloads section they have a guide you can download to help you buy a conflict-free diamond.

    Shelley — go for recycled ones — all the sparkle and none of the guilt. :)

    January 30th, 2008 at 9:05 pm
    Comment by Allie
  4. But doesn’t wearing gold or diamonds, even recycled ones, help perpetuate the mining of them by perpetuating the fashion? I guess I see it like fur: even wearing an heirloom fur helps promote wearing fur in general because no one knows it’s recycled.

    But I’m also acutely aware that the whole concept of a diamond engagement ring is an invention of DeBeers that’s only been around for about a century. Diamonds are good for making saw blades and drill bits, and little else. Diamond and gold lust is all in our heads.

    I told myself I wouldn’t get into it and look what I’ve done.

    January 31st, 2008 at 5:24 pm
    Comment by mickey
  5. No, I think you’re right, Mickey. Wearing any jewelry could certainly be part of the cycle. It raises an interesting question of responsibility.

    The diamond engagement ring trend has actually only been around since the 1930′s, and as you said, it was a marketing ploy by DeBeers because the general population wasn’t buying diamonds.
    Interesting, huh?

    January 31st, 2008 at 7:54 pm
    Comment by Allie
  6. [...] an updated vintage setting, and set with a giant green rosecut amethyst.  We’ve talked about ethical proposals before, and I think this would make an amazing engagement ring, (or an anytime ring, [...]

    December 5th, 2008 at 9:17 pm
    Pingback by Greener Holiday Gift Guide - Lunessa Jewelry
  7. I’ll be doing a diamondless engagement ring myself, one day.

    February 10th, 2009 at 9:14 pm
    Comment by Jessica

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