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What Does a Diamond Ring Mean?

Brilliant Earth rings

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!

Brilliant Earth wedding band

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16 thoughts on “What Does a Diamond Ring Mean?

  1. Now you just make sure that Brilliant Earth pays you for that awesome endorsement! LOL! And for when you do fall in love this time, I am assured that you’ll buy a conflict-free diamond! Thanks for the info, Re!

  2. Sigh. It’s really hard for me to think about wedding rings — I actually started my Valentine’s Day crying about this — because when we got engaged, Erik spent a long time browsing stores (and he hates shopping) to find the perfect ring for me: a 1930s setting with a new aquamarine stone. I loved it so much, and I loved the effort he put into selecting it… and then I lost it. I still have no idea how it happened, but we searched everywhere and never located it, and the thought of it still never fails to bring me down.

    Anyway, this is only marginally related to your post. 🙂 I guess my idea was to point out that antique rings are another way of not contributing further to a conflict-ridden trade!

    • I’m so sorry about your ring! I know there’s nothing I can say that would comfort you, even though I have the impulse to try. I just thank you so much for even commenting on this. And you’re so right about antique (and pre-owned) rings being a wonderful way to avoid dangerous eco practices, as well as conflict gems.

      • Thank you, Ré. 🙂 It’s okay; most of the time I don’t think about it and I’m fine. It’s just when I start to really remember how much I loved that ring and how much I enjoyed having it, then augh! Bring on the waterworks. ;b

  3. We all have things we’ve loved from the past, some even now that we feel badly about, in some respect. I wore a fur jacket for many years, shame shame….and now I look back and can’t believe that I did. It was so common, here in Canada, being very cold on the Prairies, where I lived. No one thought twice about the cruelty involved, just the luxury of owning one of these garments.

    This was a very interesting post. I agree with the comment above about the antique or estate ring as being the way to go if possible. I like recycling in all forms and more and more it’s also the trendy way to go too.

    Glad I stopped in. G

    • I’m glad you did, too. Sometimes I think recognizing our own individual impact on each other, the Earth, and its creatures, comes to us in layers. I’m grateful that we humans have the power to heed this insight, if we listen. Thanks for your comments.

  4. “If you are a Leonardo DiCaprio or Djimon Hounsou fan, you may be familiar with the 2006 film ‘Blood Diamond'”

    Or you can listen to Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” All the same information, condensed down to 3 and a half minutes! Passing on the savings to you!

    • Thanks for passing this on! It’s good to know that there are a lot of different ways that the message can be found. I’m sure people who are really into news from different sources also knew this information. Inclusive news sources and art, can and often do walk hand in hand.

  5. I love this source for beautiful jewelry that’s been fairly produced and manufactured. I completely resisted a diamond when I got remarried because I hated the whole idea and practice of diamond mining. The antique-style band that you picture at the top is absolutely stunning. Might even have to save up and buy it for myself someday.

    I’m the youngest of 5 sisters, with 3 female cousins, so have ended up with absolutely nothing in terms of heirloom jewelry. This band might have to be the “heirloom” I buy for myself and pass on to my daughter. Thanks for sharing about this great jewelry designer/manufacturer/company.

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