I was going to ignore Valentine’s Day altogether, except to go out the next day and score some 50% off heart-shaped chocolates — preferably, fair trade; but instead of ignoring it, sadly for the current lack of a significant other, I decided to do some research, and write this:
Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last, but when I became engaged in 2004, and began dreaming of a lifetime of love and togetherness as a couple, I also dreamt about the ring I would wear to signify all that promise and good will. Back then I didn’t understand how very important that choice of ring could be. We tend to think of the things we purchase in terms of the milieu in which we find them — the safe, clean store, the well-appointed website. Rarely do we see the sadder reality surrounding something so beautiful as an engagement ring or a wedding band.
Sometime after I was married, I saw a distressing documentary on PBS about the dangers gold miners face while trying to earn a meager living. These unhealthy realities would appall most of us who wear the fruits of their labor. As any of us look at the artistic expression of fine jewelry, the reality of mining doesn’t much enter our minds — either what it does to people’s lives, or to the beauty of the earth itself. I also began to hear about “conflict diamonds” (more on that in a bit.) This being said, the first picture you see here isn’t a photo of something you’re soon going to be admonished about. It’s a photo of something that doesn’t contribute to the suffering! I’ll explain in just a minute, first I offer a few facts.
If you are a Leonardo DiCaprio or Djimon Hounsou fan, you may be familiar with the 2006 film “Blood Diamond” that, besides being a well done piece of entertainment, also helped to get word out to the public that diamonds can be used to fund conflicts that inflict horrible atrocities onto innocent people. Here is some information I’ve found about steps being taken to right this: According to the DiamondFacts.org website, “In 2000, a coalition of governments, non-governmental organizations and the diamond industry worked together to address this issue. In 2002, they established the Kimberley Process Certification System, a UN-backed process that has virtually eliminated the trade in conflict diamonds. Today, over 99% of the world’s supply of diamonds is from sources free of conflict.” The minimum requirements that KPCS participants must meet, are outlined in a document that can be found on the FAQ page at KimberleyProcess.com. Further information found on their FAQ page, makes it clear that verification of a participant’s adherence to Kimberley Process guidelines, relies mainly on statements of adherence by the supplier of its rough diamonds. The website also states that “Polished diamonds do not require a Kimberley Process certificate.” I found the information they provided to be confusing, and not enough to make me feel comfortable about purchasing diamond jewelry. Amnesty International, as well as other human rights organizations, agree that the Kimberley Process is not appropriately funded, and has not been proven able to address, monitor, or end the international trade in conflict diamonds.
I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone to feel guilty about having purchased a piece of diamond or gold jewelry prior to knowing these facts, but I do think that this knowledge gives us a responsibility. When looking to purchase jewelry of this type, it makes sense to support businesses who demonstrate their awareness and willingness to provide a consciously ethical product. Brilliant Earth sells jewelry made with conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold, platinum, and silver. I can’t afford anything they sell (yet) but people are falling in love, getting engaged, and marrying all around me. How wonderful it is to know that they can have the token symbols of their love that they want — without doing so much harm — and that I can have a part in steering them toward one of the ethical companies that can help them do just that! If you’re looking to buy yourself something sparkly and precious, it makes sense to make sure that you “First, do no harm.” Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun looking around Brilliant Earth’s website and blog, bookmarking an item or two for a future time when I’m able to indulge, or for when I finally have become lucky in love!