STAFF GUIDE | OCTOBER 2016
Ethical Engagement Rings
When it comes to choosing the perfect engagement ring, there are both human rights and environmental concerns to be considered. The harvesting of diamonds has a history of fueling conflict and the mining of precious metals is often damaging to the environment. Beyond this, miners are frequently denied fair wages and adequate health and safety provisions.
For the socially conscious bride-to-be an ethically sourced engagement ring is a must and thankfully there are a range of stunning and affordable options. These 14 jewelry companies source recycled or fair trade gold, and vintage and conflict-free diamonds and jewels to create their engagement rings. Many of these brands are also green-certified and give back to their communities or the environment in a number of ways.
Ethics | Conflict-Free Diamonds, Environmentally Responsible, Fair Labor Practices
Best For | Free Shipping and Returns, Giving Back to the Community
Average Price Range | $1,500 - $10,000
Brilliant Earth is one of the leading sources for engagement and wedding rings around the world; each of their materials are environmentally sustainable and goes beyond “ just conflict-free”. Their diamonds, stones, and metals come free of any human rights abuses, use fair labor practices, and contribute to local community development in countries like Canada, Russia, and Botswana. With vintage, non-traditional, and custom rings, there is endless potential to create the perfect piece for the perfect person.
Ethics | Conflict-Free Diamonds
Best For | Free Shipping, 30 Day Returns, Lifetime Warranties, 360 Degree Views
Average Price Range | $500 - $10,000
James Allen doesn’t agree that buying rings should equate to environmental destruction and blood diamond deaths. They do believe, though, that you should be able to create the ring of your choice, using conflict-free diamonds, with the option for a financing plan. They even include 360-degree views so you can see every angle and shimmer, and provide around-the-clock customer service to answer any question you may have. With settings ranging from side-stone to pave to a royal halo, they offer a variety of styles tailored to your ideal design. Starting at a few hundred dollars, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at James Allen.
Fair Trade Jewellery Co.
Ethics | B-Corp, Fair-Trade and Fair-Mined Nickel-Free Gold
Best For | Custom Rings, Proposal Loaner Ring
Average Price Range | $995 - $5,495
Fair Trade Jewellery Co is a Canada-based online retailer that provides both pre-set engagement rings and custom-made rings for every proposal. They became the first North American business to use Fair-Trade certified gold, and is also a certified B-Corp. In addition to being sustainable and environmentally responsible, they have strong partnerships with the Responsible Jewellery Council, the North American Gem Association, and the Competition Bureau of Canada. Ready to propose but don’t have the perfect ring yet? No problem! They provide proposal loaner rings for just the occasion.
Stone & Strand
Ethics | Conflict-Free Diamonds
Best For | Personal Concierge, Hand Engraving, Free Shipping and Returns
Average Price Range | $65 - $6,500
Working with a collaborative of US-based designers, Stone & Strand is an e-commerce retailer that provides all kinds of creative and exquisite engagement ring options. With brands like Crow’s Nest, Stephen Webster, and Jennie Kwon, Stone & Strand turns the online shopping experience into so much more with a concierge service and gemologists on staff. Their rings include styles shaped as leaves, the evil eye, and even words like “boom” - each piece can bring an incredible amount of personality into a proposal.
Melissa Joy Manning
Ethics | Conflict-Free, Ethical Sourcing, Green-Certified, Recycled Materials
Best For | Non-Traditional, Inspired by Nature
Average Price Range | $560 - $7,500
If you’re looking for an unique ring that has recycled and up-cycled materials, is green-certified, and made in the USA, then Melissa Joy Manning will be your one-stop shop. Skilled artisans in California and New York use conflict-free diamonds and ethically sourced materials like turquoise and pearls to create pieces influenced by Mother Nature herself. And with the possibility to create your own custom ring, your commitment to your beloved will be just as unique as the ring you choose.
Ethics | Conflict-Free Rings, Recycled Metals, Sustainability
Best For | Light, Ethereal Rings
Average Price Range | $200 - $3,400
Designer Monica Ruzansky started Aili Jewelry (Aili means ‘light’ in Gaelic) in New York City, handcrafting timeless and fine pieces for the classic girl. Using recycled metals, conflict-free diamonds, and materials from sustainable-certified companies, Aili rings use thin bands with small stones that will sit delicately on any finger. Each piece named after Greek history and shimmering perfectly in the morning light, your Aili ring will glow and so will you.
Ethics | Conflict-Free Diamonds
Best For | Free Shipping, Build Your Own Ring, Referrals, 24/7 Customer Service
Average Price Range | $1,500 - $10,000
Blue Nile is a popular online retailer for engagement rings, but did you know they use conflict-free diamonds that are ethically sourced? Whether you’re buying a pre-set solitaire style ring, Monique Lhuillier’s line, or building your own, they have an outstanding customer service policy to ensure satisfaction with each purchase. Each ring listed also comes with reviews, so you know exactly what you’ll be getting with every piece. They’ve made the work of ring shopping as effortless as possible.
Vrai & Oro
Ethics | Ethical Labor Practices
Best For | Simple, Clean Styles
Average Price Range | $125 - $1,040
Committed to transparency and quality, Vrai & Oro crafts engagement rings without the markups. Standing for truth in French and gold in Spanish, their classic styles are incredibly affordable and timeless. They offer pieces with either white or black diamonds, stacking rings, and various stone sizes, striking the perfect balance between simple and unique. Made in the USA with solitaire diamonds with SI2 quality or better, getting back to basics has never been easier.
Ethics | Recycled and Fair-Trade Gold
Best For | Variety of Designers
Average Price Range | $455 - $6,500
Catbird has been based out of Brooklyn for the last 12 hours, and only keeps growing. Their pieces are handmade in a small Brooklyn studio, using fair-trade and recycled gold, while all of their stones are conflict free. Their engagement rings are crafted by a variety of designers, like Erstwhile, Jennie Kwon, and Kataoka, in addition to their own Catbird Wedding line. Named after princesses, swans, and fairytales, your bride-to-be will truly feel like a queen with one of these beautiful and exquisite pieces.
Ethics | Ethically Sourced Metals & Stones, Fair-Trade Gold, Environmental Sustainability
Best For | Custom Rings, Marriage Equality Proponents
Average Price Range | $2,500 - $10,000
Using environmentally-conscious practices, Bario Neal handcrafts one-of-a-kind engagement rings that mixes dynamic shapes with unique settings. Sourced from conflict-free regions such as Canada, Namibia, and Australia, all styles comes with the option to customize each part of the ring, including an option for engraving. Plus, a portion of proceeds benefit organizations that support marriage equality and environmental sustainability. With a wide range of prices and multiple causes, there’s a ring for every heart and budget.
Ethics | Fair Trade and Ethically Sourced Gold and Silver
Best For | Modern Designs
Average Price Range | 749 - 3,499 £
Since 1996, Cred Jewellery has made clean and modern engagement rings mined ethically. They were the first jeweller to use fair trade silver, the first to use origin gold, and the first to have a fully open and transparent supply chain. In the past 20 years, they’ve done a site visit to every single mine they’ve sourced from, assuring customers they can feel good about their conflict-free pieces. Their simple yet stunning engagement rings are ideal for the modern-day bride!
Ethics | Conflict-Free, Antiques
Best For | Styles From 1800’s to Present Day, Free US Shipping
Average Price Range | $575 - $10,000
Based out of Seattle, Isadoras believes in selling rings that predate political and ethical conflicts, and avoiding the Blood Diamond trade. Purchasing only antique and vintage diamonds only, some of their rings date back as far as the early 1800’s and each ring comes with a “circa” date so you know just when it was mined. With looks from the Edwardian and Victorian eras, you’ll feel like you’re in Downton Abbey, but more socially and environmentally conscious.
Trumpet & Horn
Ethics | Antiques, Conflict-Free, Eco-Friendly
Best For | Vintage Styles, Wide Range of Prices, Free US Shipping
Average Price Range | $775 - $10,000
Trumpet & Horn believes that vintage engagement rings are treasures, valued and passed on through generations. Their antique rings are created with recycled metals, repurposed jewelry, and diamonds found prior to conflict mining, ensuring that their pieces are conflict-free, eco-friendly, and one-of-a-kind. Adhering to the American Gen Trade Association’s Code of Ethics, and a supporter of the Kimberley Process, Trumpet & Horn is leading the way for sellers to be both environmentally and socially responsible. If you want a ring that is truly the only one in the world, Trumpet & Horn is the way to go -- and they offer free shipping and free sizing on all orders!
Ethics | Antique Gems
Best For | Vintage Styles, Affordable Prices
Average Price Range | $1,000 - $8,000
Using charms, chains, and accessories originally produced in New England factories in the 20th century, Erica Weiner began to find their gorgeous, eclectic gems in old warehouses. Initially made by hand 10 years ago in a small New York apartment, today they operate out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, creating some of the most unique engagement rings we’ve ever seen. The majority of their beautifully designed rings fall between $1,000-$4,000, remaining affordable for most couples - it’s the perfect mix of new and antique for a non-traditional bride.