Thinking of popping the question? I recently got engaged, so I can confidently say sustainable engagement rings have a soft spot in my heart. My fiancé did right by me and proposed using an ethical engagement ring and I couldn’t have been happier – he custom made it and everything too! I get compliments on it everywhere I go, but most importantly, I can feel good wearing it. If you’re an environmentalist, or the person you’re proposing to is, you’ll want to get them a ring that’s as beautiful as it is good for the environment.
Believe it or not, a lot of engagement rings are anything but sustainable or ethical. Harvesting diamonds has a history of fueling conflict and mining precious metals is often detrimental to the environment. Not to mention miners are often denied fair wages, safety provisions or health benefits. Metal mining, gold mining in particular, is one of the most environmentally destructive kinds of mining around.
For socially and environmentally conscious couples, an ethically sourced engagement ring is a must. Thankfully, there are several brands that create sustainable engagement rings using recycled or fair trade metals as well as conflict-free diamonds and jewels. Many of these brands also give back by helping local communities and funding environmental projects.
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The Best Ethical + Sustainable Engagement Rings
What is the most ethical stone for an engagement ring?
In many instances the most ethical stones for engagement rings are actually synthetic alternatives made in laboratory. Before you tune out completely or say “Well that is not the same”, from a chemical and physical point of view they are actually completely identical! Not only that, but it also has the added bonus that they are much better for the environment and have significantly higher ethical standards. Always look for conflict-free, lab grown diamonds if you can.
What is an ethical engagement ring?
For me, there are several easy ways to ensure that an engagement ring is ethical and you can show off your gorgeous rock without guilt! The first thing I would always look for is a vintage or second hand ring, however, not everyone is comfortable with that and that is totally fine. An engagement ring is an important symbol in so many cultures so I would always recommend doing what is best for you and your partner.
Other ethical options are those which have recycled metals, repurposed gemstones or even lab grown diamonds. Whatever your style or taste there are some great options out there. If in doubt, I would always recommend going to a smaller store, as this will often have higher ethical standards as well as having a higher chance of finding some gorgeous and unique rings that will be special to just you and your loved one.
What is a sustainable ring?
Unlike many other sustainable items, when it comes to sustainable engagement rings, it is much less about the impact of plastic packaging and more about the impact of mining the metals and gemstones, as well as the ethical impacts on the workers involved in this process.
I’ve gone ahead a listed several brands that make sustainable engagement rings below – but you can always check out Etsy for some beautiful vintage rings as well.
What are the most ethical diamonds?
If you are dead set on the idea of having a diamond, there are really three options available to you. The first is you can opt for a vintage ring, which can be really lovely, especially if you are keen to find a really unique and maybe quirky design. The resources and energy it took to harvest this diamond are already depleted, making it a much more eco-friendly option.
If this isn’t so much up your street, there are plenty of places out there where you can have ‘new’ rings designed using recycled natural diamonds. Both of these options are far more sustainable as they require no new mining of diamonds and therefore require no additional environmental devastation and human exploitation.
The alternative if you don’t want to opt for a previously owned item is to look into lab created diamonds. This is particularly good if you are on a bit of a budge. Lab grown diamonds are a much more affordable option while being physically and chemically identical.
Why are diamonds not ethical?
Diamonds have an incredibly complicated political history, for which wars have even happen over! This is why you may have heard the phrase blood diamond. Thankfully, there is the Kimberly Process which ensures that at least a minimum level of ethical standards are upheld, although some argue this still isn’t enough. I would need an entire blog post to explain this fully however, they are often sourced through slavery and bloodshed. On top of that, any kind of mining has a detrimental impact on the environment so this adds to the complications of the diamond.
What is the most eco-friendly gemstone?
When it comes to eco-friendly gem stones there are three main options. First, and the most eco friendly is to go for a vintage or recycled gemstone. The carbon footprint of this will always be as minimal as possible.
Alternatively, if you are dead-set on having a new gemstone you can opt for a lab grown diamond or a Moissanite gemstone. Lab Grown diamonds are chemically and physically exactly the same as natural diamonds and only differ from their origins, with lab grown being the far more sustainable. It is additionally much quicker to create a lab grown diamond which takes around 2 weeks compared to millions of years for a natural diamond.
If you are looking for a non-diamond alternative you can also look into moissanite, which was developed as a more sustainable alternative to diamonds and is more affordable. Moissanite doesn’t have the same chemical make up as a diamond.
Where can I buy an ethical engagement ring?
Thankfully, there are tons of amazing places you can buy ethical engagement rings out there and I have shared some of my favorites below, so if you are in the market for a sustainable engagement ring, make sure you check them out.
- Sustainably Grown Diamonds in the USA
- Lab Grown Gemstones
- Design Your Own Ring
- Carbon Neutral Certified Since 2017
- Matching Bridal Jewelry
Vrai is one of the market leading specialists when it comes to sustainable diamonds. All of their diamonds are made sourced directly from their very own foundry, making their supply chain incredibly efficient and completely controlled from an ethical standpoint.
It is not just ethics that they pride themselves on, they are also leading the market in sustainable jewelry too. The company as a whole was developed to create beautiful diamond without the environmental and human toll of mining, and create all of their products in zero emission foundry’s using 100% hydropower from the Columbia River. Knowing the exact origin of a product, especially for such a huge investment as a sustainable engagement ring – is a great way to ensure it is as sustainable and ethical as possible. Oh and added bonus, the gorgeous Leonardo DiCaprio invests in them!
- Natural and Lab Based Diamonds
- Certified Member of the Responsible Jewelry Council
- Carbon Neutral
- FSC Certified Ringboxes
- Charitable Contributions to Environmental Organizations
FYI, this was where my fiancé got my engagement ring – Brilliant Earth!! So I have a special place in my heart for this company – they did a beautiful job and I’m obsessed.
If you are not so sure about the idea of a lab created diamond then you definitely need to check out Brilliant Earth Sustainable Jewelry. They offer two different options when it comes to engagement rings either lab created diamonds or recycled diamond which have been repurposed after a prior purchase.
Brilliant Earth also has the option to design your own rings, if you choose to – which my fiancé did! They also have plenty of matching jewelry, whether you wish to purchase a full bridal set or some complementary pieces for the wedding day. Something I really love about Brilliant Earth is their selection of gemstones, whether you have your heart set on an Emerald, a Sapphire or another quirky color, you can definitely do that here as they allow you to search by gemstone or color!
- Natural or Lab Grown Diamonds
- Customizable Designs
- Ethically Transparent Supply Chain
- Filter out ‘Blood Diamonds’ – Canadamark Available
- 3D Design Service
We all love a love story right? Well Taylor & Hart is exactly that. It was born when a friend of the founders wanted to create a completely unique engagement ring for his soon to be Fianceé, the ring that became the first right Taylor & Hart ever created. They believe that in order to create a truly perfect ring, they must first start with ethical sourcing. Not only that but Taylor & Hart have been called the “best place to buy a custom engagement ring online” and have featured in numerous publications including, Vogue, BBC News and Professional Jeweler.
- Natural Ethical Diamonds
- Certified Member of the Responsible Jewelry Council
- All Gold 100% Recycled
- Female Owned Business
- Diamonds Adhering to the Kimberly Process
Aurate New York is a company who openly discusses how they use 100% recycled gold in all of their jewelry, as well as ethically sourcing all gemstones and pearls. Something amazing about this brand, is they are reasonably budget friendly as well. All of their products have an incredibly short supply chains which means they are also able to make their prices as affordable as possible, allowing you to get the ring of your dreams, even if your budget is a little more restrictive.
5. Catbird NYC
- Recycled and Ethical Rings
- Variety of Gemstones Avaliable
- In Person or Virtual Appointments
- Based in Brooklyn
- Matching Accessories
Since 2004, Catbird has been working with the ethos of making beautiful, long lasting jewelry with the lowest possible environmental impact. All of their products are made in their Brooklyn studio using almost entirely recycled gold and diamonds. Catbird even carries a few lab grown diamonds, so definitely take a look if this is something you’re interested in. On top of that, they have a lovely variety of different gemstones however, if you are dead-set on a custom ring, this isn’t easily done online. However, if you are NY based, you can opt to have your appointment in person which is a lovely touch.
- Lab- Grown or Natural Diamonds and Moissanite
- Without Retail Mark Up
- 1% of Purchase to Charity – Cause Selected by Customer
- Family Owned Business
- In House Manufacturing
It has been over 4 decades since, Kobelli went into business and now work entirely on an online basis, reducing manufacturing costs and therefore reducing the cost of the product to the consumer. They are focused on their social responsibility so you can be assured that all of their natural diamonds are ethically sourced and you can even opt for Moissanite or Lab Grown Diamonds if you choose to. On top of all of that, 1% of your purchase goes to a charity or cause of your choosing which I think is a really lovely touch. Imagine proposing to your loved one knowing a substantial amount of money has gone to a cause close to both of your hearts.
7. Blue Nile
- Conflict Free Diamonds
- Bespoke Designs Available
- Virtual Appointments
- Ireland Based Company
- No Middleman Prices
The Irish Company Blue Nile offers some really beautiful engagement rings, with bespoke, build your own options available on their websites. For years now they have worked on a virtual business model which allows them to sell their product at a budget friendly price, by cutting out unnecessary costs of a bricks and mortar shop. For their handcrafted rings, they only purchase ethically sourced diamonds, ensuring they are sticking to the Kimberly Process. Another benefit of being an entirely online based company is that they are able to offer a 24/7 online chat, so you can have support at any time that suits you for the important investment that is a sustainable engagement ring. Oh, and they have a price match guarantee… definitely worth a look!
8. Clean Origin
- 100% Lab Grown Diamonds
- Showroom in Dallas-Fort Worth
- International Shipping
- Phone, Chat and Email Consultations
- Bridal Sets and Matching Jewelry
Clean Origin was set up by industry experts with over 100 years combined experience, to provide the most ethical and sustainable engagement ring options on the market. 100% of all of their diamonds are lab grown and even have options to have matching bridal sets or other jewelry for your special day! All of their diamonds have an independent certification and there is the benefit of free international shipping too!
- 100% Lab Grown Diamonds
- Renewable Energy Sources
- Net Zero By 2022
- Portland Based
- White, Blue and Pink Stones
Lightbox is a Portland based lab committed to minimizing their environmental impact as much as possible. In fact on their website they specify exactly how much energy is required for each lab based diamond and how they offset this, while also reducing the amount of energy used in the first place. Something really unique about this company is you have the option to simply purchase the loose stone, and then you can choose what to do with it. So if there are any budding ring makers out there, this could be a great option, however, there are limited rings available on the site directly.
10. James Allen
- Conflict Free Diamonds
- Real Time Virtual Diamond Inspection
- Variety of Gemstones
- Bespoke Ring Design
- Free Engraving
James Allen boasts over 150k happy couples with their engagement rings and you could be one of them. You can order online or visit one of their three showrooms, based in New York, Maryland and Washington DC. They stock over 200,000 conflict free diamonds, which you are able to view each one through their unique 3D ring inspection. If you need a bit of support they also have a 24 hour chat service which means you can chat at any time, and for any reason if you need to return the ring, they also have a 100% money back guarantee, which is great for peace of mind.
- Less Traditional Rings
- Female Owned Business
- 100% material traceability goal
- 70% of all Gold Recycled
- Other Bridal Accessories
One of the first things you will read on the Mejuri website is about their focus on changing the jewelry industry from being about men gifting to women to women celebrating themselves! Yes, Yes, Yes!! Mejuri is also super keen to reduce their environmental impact too! This ethical jewelry brand is aiming to have 70% of all of the gold in their products to be recycled and the further 30% to be entirely traceable. They also have clear goals, with further environmental goals being published by the end of 2021. If you are looking for a less traditional sustainable engagement ring, this is definitely the place to look, with beautiful turquoise rings and matching bridal accessories.
- Conflict Free or Lab Grown Diamonds
- Reclaimed Gold
- Family owned company
- Visit in Store in New York and Aspen
- Short Supply Chain Prices
Noemie makes some beautifully crafted sustainable engagement rings from completely reclaimed metal and lab grown or ethical diamonds. They make all of their products to last and their products at the fairest prices by minimizing their supply chain. They believe you shouldn’t have to pick between the planet and something special, such as an engagement ring and so they don’t make you pick! There is also the added bonus of customizable orders and plenty of help on their website including an online chat and finance plans.
- Wide Variety of Options
- Supports Small Businesses
- More Affordable Options
- Unique Designs
Etsy is a great place where you can support small businesses but did you know you can actually find sustainable engagement rings on there too? On top of this, it can also be a much more affordable place to buy beautiful jewelry and you can even contact the seller and discuss the item. There are some super unique designs and some really gorgeous vintage items too so I definitely recommend checking this out too, which is probably a bit more alternative than most people might think.
- One of a Kind Jewelry
- Each Piece is handmade to Order
- New York and California Boutiques
- 100% Recycled Metals
- Custom Engagement Rings
Melissa Joy Manning created her own ethical and sustainable jewelry company which creates unique, one of a kind pieces. All of the jewelry is handmade in their green certified studios. Nobody will have a ring like yours, which is something special about many of these sustainable engagement rings. In fact, if you wish to have a completely customized order, you can contact her directly to discuss this. Melissa Jot Manning’s founder is actually the co-chair of the CFDA Sustainability Committee. All of the metal used within the products is 100% recycled and the gemstones are ethically sourced, following the Kimberly Process and are often reclaimed.
So, what do you think of these sustainable engagement rings? Think you’ll pop the question with one of them? Let me know your thoughts below!
For more wedding inspo, check out my guide to a zero waste wedding here! In 2023, I’ll be getting married so be sure to stick around for updates!
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