Picking out an engagement ring is an important decision. This is a piece of jewelry that’s going to be close to your heart, one that you wear constantly and that reminds you of the future you’re looking forward to. And you’ll want to feel good wearing it, too-- it should suit your taste in jewelry, of course, but it should also fit your ethical principles.
The mining of precious minerals has wreaked havoc on the environment and on international relations for centuries. Besides the fact that diamond mining processes often involve a massive waste of energy and pose problems for the environment-- endangering biodiversity and polluting the water-- the mining of these beautiful stones can also lead to violent conflict between countries seeking to profit off of each other’s resources. As lovely as the engagement ring you’ve had your eye on might be, you may find yourself uncomfortable with the idea that it caused damage to the environment or helped instigate an armed conflict.
Luckily, there are plenty of sustainable and ethical alternatives to traditional, new, diamond engagement rings. Many brands make a point of tracking their precious gems to avoid using materials associated with violence, and several are also eager to use recycled metals and environmentally-friendly processes to make their rings. Some companies make a business of collecting vintage and antique engagement rings-- which is also a sustainable option, since it avoids driving up demand for newly-mined metals and gemstones.
If you’re interested in shopping for sustainable engagement rings, here’s a list of some to take a look at!
This Willow Three Stone Diamond Ring from Brilliant Earth is a beautiful ring to start our list off with. The rose gold band gently twines around your finger, accented by an assortment of stones of your choice-- perfect for anyone who loves soft but regal-looking jewelry.
You won’t have to worry about sustainability or ethics with this ring, either. Brilliant Earth makes a point of ethically sourcing their stones-- all of their diamonds are either lab grown or carefully tracked to ensure that they were mined ethically. Additionally, most of the gold and silver that Brilliant Earth uses is recycled-- 98% and 97%, respectively-- and they are continuously striving to raise that percentage to 100%. If you’re looking for sustainable engagement rings, Brilliant Earth is a great place to start.
The Gabrielle engagement ring from Octavia Elizabeth is excellent if you’re looking for a simple, elegant ring-- not too flashy, but graceful all the same. Octavia Elizabeth suggests that this engagement ring would look nice alongside a slim wedding band. The ring’s light hammer and high shine finish is the signature finish of the brand’s founder, Octavia Zamagias.
Octavia Elizabeth as a brand also maintains high sustainability and ethical standards. They work alongside UN Fair Trade compliant mines, use as many reclaimed diamonds as they can, use lots of recycled gold in their jewelry as opposed to new gold, and hand make each piece in Los Angeles to reduce carbon emissions and minimize their environmental impact. If you want a unique, handmade engagement ring, check Octavia Elizabeth out!
We think this Twin Hearts Ring from Erica Weiner is too cool to leave off of our list. Erica Weiner collects vintage and antique engagement rings and polishes them up to sell. Buying older rings instead of new ones can help the environment by not driving up demand for materials with damaging mining processes. Plus, older rings like this one have lots of character and are always unique-- you won’t find more like this one in stores!
This ring in particular is dated to around 1850, during the Victorian Era. Its two main stones are a diamond and a ruby, both framed by small rose-cut diamonds. The gold band, too, is beautiful, curving into flourishes that set off the stones.
If you’re looking for a more modern, unconventional design, this ring from WWAKE is a great option. An ethically-sourced sapphire is set in a thin band made of recycled gold and accented by a small diamond, giving this ring a unique-- yet classy-- look.
WWAKE aims to keep all of its jewelry production ethical and eco-friendly. They prioritize using recycled materials and ethically-sourced stones, and they keep production local in order to minimize carbon emissions in transit. WWAKE also supports several charities, whose goals range from making mines safe for workers to helping homeless women take control of their lives.
For those looking for a beautiful ring that fits nicely into their budget, this moissanite ring from Automic Gold should call out to you. The gold band, made of recycled gold, is hand-carved to look like the branches of a tree, and the lab-grown moissanite stone in the center is extremely durable and glitters more than diamond.
Automic Gold works hard to remain an ethical and sustainable brand from the beginning of their production process all the way to the end. The company works only with sustainable materials, handcrafts every piece to minimize environmental impact, and reasonably prices all their jewelry-- protecting their customers’ wallets.
This Diamond Cluster Ring from Mejuri is perfect if you love both simplicity and sparkle. The band is handcrafted from 14k gold, so it won’t discolor with time, and all diamonds used are ethically sourced from Kimberley Process compliant suppliers.
Mejuri prioritizes environmental protection, fair labor, and health and safety when deciding what suppliers to work with. The vast majority of gold and silver that the company uses are also recycled, making this a great sustainable brand to look into.
This simple-- yet refined-- crossover ring from Aurate is another great option if you want to watch your budget while engagement ring shopping. Made from recycled gold, like all of Aurate’s jewelry, it’s studded with an assortment of beautiful Kimberley Process compliant diamonds. For someone who much prefers minimalist jewelry over flashy pieces, this ring is perfect.
In addition to using almost exclusively recycled gold and ethically-sourced diamonds and pearls, Aurate also gives back to various charities and organizations, whose goals range from protecting women’s rights to making a positive impact on the environment by planting trees. You won’t have to worry about hurting the environment while shopping with Aurate.
Price: $693 (Regular Price $990)
If you’re looking for a more traditional engagement ring, this cushion-cut ring from James Allen will suit you. Made of 14k white gold and set with a 1-carat diamond, flanked by a series of smaller stones, this ring is one you’ll be excited to show off to your friends.
James Allen is among the most successful wedding jewelry retailers in the business right now, and for good reason-- they use only conflict-free diamonds and offer customers the chance to inspect their ring settings and diamonds themselves in order to ensure that they only send out pieces of the utmost quality. These engagement rings are meant to last, so you can rest assured that your ring will be both ethical and sustainable.
Price: $4,535 (Regular Price $4,970)
Do you like both glitter and simplicity in your jewelry? This ring from VRAI may be right for you. With its classy-looking, simple gold band and three settings for beautiful lab-grown diamonds, this is a perfect choice for those who want a more traditional engagement ring.
Even better, VRAI has a good reputation for sustainability in their jewelry. All of VRAI’s diamonds are lab-grown in their own US-based foundry using a net-zero carbon emission process.
If you’re looking for a flashier engagement ring, the Bella Ring from Valerie Madison might suit your tastes well. The modern-cut stone set in a vintage-inspired setting made from recycled gold offers a unique mix of styles that draws the eye.
Valerie Madison also makes efforts to be sustainable and ethical with their other jewelry, prioritizing using recycled gold and platinum metals, Kimberley Process compliant diamonds, and lab-grown moissanite stones in their rings to minimize their impact on the environment. Valerie Madison is a Black female-owned business, too, so shopping here helps support an innovative woman with an eye for jewelry design.
Price: $5,310 (Regular Price $5,900)
The jewelry industry is notoriously environmentally unfriendly and has a history of instigating violent conflicts. But thanks to the efforts of sustainable and ethical brands like the ones on this list, the damage to the environment caused by jewelry production is starting to decrease. With the current ecological crisis going on, it’s important to support efforts to be sustainable in any way you can-- so next time you’re thinking of making a big jewelry purchase, consider shopping through one of the brands on this list!