Rings and Things

I’m a liberal girl. I also have a healthy dose of white guilt. There’s no way for me as an American to be completely sure that I’ve removed all sources of cruelty to others, short of going completely off the grid and becoming mountain man self sufficient. But I do what I can.

I’ve known for several years that I didn’t want a diamond. The whole industry just strikes me as too shadowy to be trusted (*cough*DeBeers*cough*) Add this this the whole issue of blood diamonds and the decision was final.

But… when the issue of rings came up, I found that my determination wavered. Where initially I insisted that I only wanted the simplest of wedding bands, I found myself being drawn to the idea of an eternity band. Then when I realized that wearing precious gems everyday might not be a good idea, especially considering how I use my hands, I now found myself wanting two rings (wedding band and something sparkly).

So I began to do some research.

I spent way too much time reading Diamond Talk forums, which almost lulled me into thinking that I could have a diamond without guilt*. After all, it’s only about 4-5% of the diamond supply that is actually from war zones. But even so, I just couldn’t condone it.

I suggested to my fiance that we get a synthetic diamond or a look-a-like, thinking the lower cost and simplicity of the suggestion would be appealing. But he said no. He had a variety of arguments that I’m not going to paraphrase, but basically it came out to his belief that I’m worth much more than cubic zirconia. Aww… :)

I began investigating Canadian diamonds (warning: annoying music with index page). Cruelty-free, environmentally conscious mining techniques, sparkly stones… sounds great! But… more expensive.

The whole “two month’s salary” idea is absolute bunk. I refuse to have that much spent on me. So there went the idea of Canadian diamonds. Having ideals is great, but only if you can afford them.

So I thought about sapphires. Less cruelty, but by now I was thoroughly disenchanted with the whole gem mining industry; even at its best it can be distasteful.

At the end of all this fretting, I’ve decided on lab-created sapphires. They’re made in a lab, not pulled from the earth by underpaid laborers; that’s the only difference between lab-made and “natural” sapphires. A compromise both I and my fiance can live with.

As for the rest of the ring… I’m not even going to begin researching platinum. A girl’s gotta draw the line somewhere.

*If you have a diamond ring, more power to you. I often wonder if all this fretting has done me any good whatsoever, especially considering how many other ways I could be doing more to help those in need. It’s also been argued that if people stopped buying diamonds the economies in several African countries would collapse, leading to strife seen in other countries. It’s one of those situations with no easy answer. I did my research and am now happy with the result. You can do your own research and decide for yourself. I just hope more people will think about diamonds beyond the advertising.

You could start with these books.

Some other websites:

On DeBeers
Wired article on man-made diamonds
National Geographic on diamonds
Common Dreams on conflict diamonds

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  • Michael Higgins

    I’m not real keen on the whole diamond thing, either. Have you read the old article, Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?

  • kate

    I don’t even know if you’ll get this comment since this was written so long ago, but I just wanted to thank you for your reflections. My FH and I are looking for rings right now, and my very favorite has diamonds in it–much to my surprise, as I have all the same hesitations you do. The artisan who designs and makes the ring has assured us that the diamonds they use are “conflict-free,” but I’m not so sure I buy that. Talk about a conflict diamond! I’m spending way too much energy going back and forth on this… :)

    Anyway, thanks for all the info here.

    -another indiebride