Your Guide to Ethical Engagement Rings and Conflict-Free Diamonds

January 19, 2022

Your Guide to Ethical Engagement Rings and Conflict-Free Diamonds By Valley Rose


Buying an engagement ring is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make – and you want to make the right one. If you’re popping the question this year, you want to do it with an ethically sourced engagement ring. We’re more aware than ever of issues around sustainability and ethics within the jewelry industry.

Your engagement ring is an eternal symbol of love. You want it to encapsulate your relationship and love for each other as something your fiancée will wear for the rest of their lives. Engagement rings are a timeless heirloom and a part of your love story – which shouldn’t be tainted by the issues of unethical diamonds and unfair labor practices. 

We want you to find an engagement ring that is beautiful on the inside and out. This guide tells you everything you need to know about buying an ethically sourced engagement ring and responsibly sourced diamonds. We’re covering why you should buy a traceable diamond ring and whether a recycled gold engagement ring is the right solution.

ethical engagement rings with conflict-free diamonds

What is an ethical engagement ring?

Thetruth is that many engagement rings arenotethical – but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s easy to get distracted by terms like “eco-friendly” and “sustainable”. With the industry not being regulated for this terminology, it’s easy for greenwashing to happen. When in truth there is no zero impact and truly sustainable option when buying newly made jewelry, and every material comes with highly nuanced issues and considerations.

An ethical engagement ring uses responsibly sourced materials and is made by workers throughout the supply chain who benefit from fair labor practices. The engagement ring gemstones are ethically mined and cut with minimal impact on the planet. Even ‘conflict-free’diamonds can miss the mark with this. 

One of the better alternatives for ethical engagement rings is lab-grown diamonds with a more transparent supply chain and manufacturing process. The majority are fully traceable gemstones with known provenance. You also want to consider the metal used in your engagement ring.Fairmined gold – and other certifications like fair-trade gold – the best choices for modern engagement rings.

ethical sapphire engagement rings with eco-friendly gold

Why you should buy an ethical engagement ring

Buying an ethical engagement ring helps you do your bit to protect our planet and create a fairer and more equitable jewelry industry. Ethical engagement rings can have a lower carbon footprint than their traditional counterparts. Conventional diamond mining produces more than 125 pounds of carbon for every carat. By comparison, a lab-grown diamond that was grown with clean energy and sequestered carbon from the air can be carbon negative. 

Ethics is one of the biggest questions that surround diamond mining. While diamonds can now be certified as ‘conflict-free’,it doesn’t mean that they haven't been mined by organizations that use slave labor, child labor and unfair working practices as these issues fall outside the “conflict-free” Kimberly Process Certification Scheme. 

Ethical engagement rings are the future. Almost70% of millennials say they would opt for a lab-grown diamond or an ethically made ring. Everyone fromMeghan Markle toBindi Irwin has lab-grown diamonds in their jewelry box. If you want an engagement ring that represents the future, you want to choose an ethical one.

ethical gemstone choices for ethical engagement rings

The best gemstones for engagement rings

While diamonds and sapphires are the best gemstones for engagement rings, it can be complicated (but not impossible) to find a truly ethical one.The mining and the cutting of the gemstones needs to be considered in order to ensure a responsible choice.

That’s where lab-grown diamonds come in as an alternative. Because they are made in an entirely new production process the circumvent all the labor and some environmental issues associated with diamond mining and are inherently conflict-free. It is important to know they are not zero impact as many do heavily rely on fossil fuels to produce, but when compared side by side to conventionally made diamonds they do come out on top as a slightly cleaner and straightforward option. 

Our favorite innovative lab diamonds are AETHER Air lab diamonds, these diamonds are made in a facility that is run on clean energy and to make each diamond they sequester carbon pollution. Each carat compresses hundreds of pounds of CO2, equal to an average Americans annual carbon foot print. 

The other responsible option is sourcing direct from miners, diamonds and gemstones with known provenance can be free of labor and safety issues and often times have more accountability and lower impact when it comes to the environment. These gemstone purchases support micro-businesses that are vital to the economic sustainability of many communities.

Our certified ethically mined diamond favorites are certified Canadian diamonds and Ocean Diamonds from South Africa that both offer assurances and guaranteed traceability. 

fairmined gold material for ethical engagement rings

The best gold for engagement rings

It’s easy to get caught up thinking about the diamond and gemstone as the centerpiece of your stone, but you don’t want to forget about your metal. Gold is the most popular choice for engagement rings with its timeless look and durability, but it can be as problematic as diamond mining.

Fairmined gold is the perfect ethical alternative for those who want an engagement ring as it is more environmentally friendly and addresses many issues within illicit artisanal gold mining. This gold comes from certified small-scale mines that have gone through a strict training and regulatory processes to ensure worker safety, environmental safeguards and responsible toxic chemical handling. All Fairmined certified mines have the eventual goal to be completely chemical free as the mining operations develop. 

Another option many people gravitate towards is recycled gold. Don’t let the name fool you. Many may think recycled gold is just using melted down gold from an existing jewelry piece and refining it into another jewelry piece and thus preventing new mining. This process is true for a very tiny percentage as gold jewelry has always been repurposed since the dawn of time because of gold’s intrinsic value.  

Recycled gold is synonymous with conventional gold and is a meaningless claim as it has never had a waste stream. In fact there have been talks to ban the term “recycled” as it technically does not meet the definition of a recycled material. 

The issue with a recycled gold engagement rings is that while it appears more sustainable, it doesn’t decrease the demand for gold mining.  The truth is the majority of recycled gold content is newly mined untraceable and illicit gold due to a definition loophole. This conventional gold is contributing to deforestation, human rights issues, and toxic pollution.

We use fairmined gold in our ethical engagement rings as it is fully traceable and comes from artisanal small-scale mines in Columbia and Peru. This gold meets ethical practices as miners operate in safe working conditions and are paid a living wage. It’s also more eco-friendly as fairmined mines are required to meet rigorous environmental standards to prevent water contamination and excessive habitat loss. 

When you buy an engagement ring made with fairmined gold, you’re making a positive difference by promoting ethical mining practices and supporting artisans. 

emerald cut ethical lab diamond three stone ring

Don’t forget about who makes your jewelry 

While supply chains and worker’s rights have been put into the spotlight within the fashion industry, it’s also worth considering who makes your jewelry. When you buy an ethical ring, you have the peace of mind that workers aren’t exploited and that ethical labor practices are in place.

Our ethically sourced engagement rings are made by talented artisans who work on every piece by hand in the USA. Unlike mainstream jewelry, these stunning heirlooms are not mass-produced. You’ll get a bespoke engagement ring that represents your union while knowing that the artisan behind your ring was fairly paid for their work. It’s guilt-free luxury and makes your engagement ring a true work of art. 

When you are engagement ring shopping, you want to give your future bride only the best. A responsibly sourced engagement ring with ethical diamonds and gemstones is one that they’re guaranteed to fall in love with. Your engagement ring is a symbol of love and one that reflects your relationship. 

Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than an ethical engagement ring. 

ethical engagement ring custom design service by valley rose

Explore our Ethical Engagement Ring Collection Here >

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Sizing & Care

Ring Sizing Guide

Print and download this chart to find your ring size. Make sure you use exactly 8.5"x11" letter paper. You can use a string or a piece of paper and wrap around your finger or nuckle to measure the circumference and match to your size.

Brilliant Earth Ring Sizing Guide ↠


Necklace Sizing Guide

Follow this chart to see where the necklace will fall. All necklace sizes are described on the product pages. We suggest getting a piece of string and measuring necklace on your neck to ensure best fit. 


Special Care Instructions

To keep your jewels looking their best please keep these tips in mind to extend the life of your pieces. 

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