Vintage Engagement Rings: A Beautiful Solution to the Ethical Diamond Question (Part 2)

Customers are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental and human impact of the engagement rings they buy. Newlywed couples do not want their wedding, a day of joy and celebration, to come at the expense of unethical treatment of workers half a world away. In this post, we explore why vintage engagement rings are a solution to the ethical diamond question.

Is Your Newly-Mined Diamond Conflict Free?

The supply chain for diamond production still contains human rights abuses. Conflict diamonds, or diamonds mined from the earth that finance rebel armies and guerrilla groups, are still a harsh reality in 2016. The methods in place that identify a diamond’s origin still contain many loopholes and one can never be sure that a brilliant stone set in a modern diamond ring is 100 percent conflict-free.

Alluvial Mining

Alluvial mining of diamonds, otherwise known as small-scale mining occurs in deposits that don’t require satellite imaging involvement, sampling, engineering and machine digging. A total of 10 to 15 percent of the world’s diamonds are obtained through alluvial methods. Most alluvial mining occurs in Africa. Deposits are found in local riverbeds and coasts and are locally mined using crude methods like digging pits or panning in riverbeds.

Unfortunately, alluvial mining does not use the same standards as other, more organized mining efforts. Two such examples of modern non-alluvial methods are the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada and the Argyle diamond mine in Australia, where unearthed diamonds rarely come into contact with human hands. In such technologically advanced mines, strict policies and documentation are necessary in order to ensure human rights standards as well as environmental health.

Alluvial mining workers, therefore, are at the highest risk for exploitation. In Africa, more than one million workers are alluvial mining diggers, most of them living in extreme poverty and harsh conditions. These conditions are made even harsher should a rival guerrilla group take control of a mine and force the locals to work. Sadly, the supply chain of diamond production still contains diamonds mined with an alluvial methodology. Lack of oversight and demand for diamonds continues to fuel human rights abuses and the mining of conflict diamonds all across the world.

What’s Good For the Earth Should be Good for Earth’s People

Vintage jewelry and vintage diamond engagement rings are at least 50 years old and have usually been worn in the past. They are obtained from individual sellers who no longer find the item sentimental or are more commonly purchased at estate sales. Vintage jewels that antique jewelry stores sell leave no negative impact on our planet. The diamonds used do not have to be mined from the earth. The methods used to restore fine estate jewelry pieces to their original condition contain no waste or dubious politics. For consumers looking for ethical jewelry — who want to have their marriage bring joy and peace into the world — vintage jewelry is an option to the ethical diamond question.