65% of the world’s diamonds come from Africa. We save months’ worth of salaries to buy one ring.
But why is Africa still plagued with poverty, starvation, and conflict? More than a million diamond miners earn less than a dollar a day. Children are taken out of school to work in the mines. And the diamonds they unearth are used to fund armed rebel movements. Despite the ban on blood diamonds, these continue to infiltrate the market. But there are ways for couples to buy more ethical diamonds and engagement rings. And when they make this conscious choice, it contributes to a greater social change.
Why buy ethical diamonds?
Buying ethical diamonds ensures that, in your own way, you support enterprises that seek to give back to miners and their families. For example, charity foundation The Greener Diamond has funded a 100 acre farm in Sierra Leone which employs over 500 reformed child solders to grow food instead of mining for diamonds. It was created by MiaDonna & Company, which sells lab-created diamonds.
How can you buy ethical diamonds and rings?
Know where your diamond comes from.
Avoid diamonds from Zimbabwe and Angola. Human rights abuses have been documented there by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Namibia and Botswana are better options. These countries have made efforts to ensure that income from mining creates jobs and leads to development.
Buy from jewelers committed to ethical sourcing.
Brilliant Earth works with advocacy groups to promote awareness about conflict diamonds and labor and mining issues. They also donate 5% of their profits to directly benefit communities harmed by the jewelry industry. Also consider Hume Atelier or Leber Jeweler. They help fund organizations that support small-scale miners around the world.
Buy vintage or second-hand rings or have an old one reset or recut. They may have been blood diamonds but this ensures that you do not fund further conflict.
Try alternative stones.
Mia Donna creates diamonds in laboratories to stimulate the earth’s natural growing environment. Their rings are ethical, ecological, and can be tried on at home! In the Philippines, Golcondia offers cultured diamonds in their Shangri la Plaza showroom. You can also take it a notch further and try a different stone altogether. Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia, and Sapphire are good choices. And who said it had to be white?
Keep an eye on the gold.
Gold mining leaves toxic wastes that damage the environment and harm the people who mine it. Make sure your ethical diamond is set in recycled or fair trade gold, like those from Brilliant Earth.
How else can you help?
The Diamond Development Initiative works to transform artisanal mining into a source of sustainable development. You can visit their site to get involved, help educate, or donate.