It may be the smallest thing you wear, but when it comes to saying something about you, that tiny band around your finger shouts louder than everything else in your wardrobe put together. It tells the world if you are married; it can give an indication of class, taste and status. It will be rich with stories of your engagement or marriage that will always make you smile.
##What’s your ring’s story?##
But that little metal sliver had a story before it was slipped onto your finger; a story that would not be recalled fondly…
The tale is set in a landscape ravaged by industry and war. The characters are third world miners forced to work in terrible conditions; labourers and their communities affected by mercury poisoning; children in sweatshops, polishing stones. The plot is about environmental devastation on a massive scale, and armies and warlords funded by the procurement of diamonds on their land.
Industrial-scale gold mining produces on average 20 tonnes of waste to get enough gold for just one ring. And although important steps were taken to prevent conflict, or ‘blood’, diamonds getting onto the market through the Kimberley Process, diamonds from Zimbabwe and the Cote d’Ivoire still hit the high street.
We all know about the everyday things: recycling, energy efficiency, saving water, eating organic and cutting carbon. How can we keep all our good principles in mind for the biggest day of our lives as well?
##An ethical proposal##
More and more couples are thinking ethically when it comes to saying “I Do” and choosing fairtrade engagement rings and wedding rings made from Fairmined gold and conflict-free gemstones.
Before you get your cheque book out to buy that perfect engagement ring – or to indulge yourself in any kind of jewellery shopping in fact – here’s a handy checklist. . .
- Ask where the gold came from
It is now possible to buy Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and platinum. If the jeweller cannot confirm its origin, it is unlikely to have been ethically produced.
- Ask where the diamond came from
Again, if they can’t confirm the source, they can’t guarantee it will be conflict-free.
- Ask for traceable stones
Currently, Canada is the only country that operates a monitoring system to track diamonds from the mine. Under the system, diamonds above about 0.25ct will have a unique serial number lasered on which can be viewed under a jeweller’s loupe but is invisible to the naked eye.
Some Australian and a few Namibian diamonds can also be traced back to source.
- Look for a fairtrade jeweller
Search around for jewellers who specifically market themselves as ‘ethical jewellers’ or who have been Fair Trade certified. There are an increasing number around, and most will offer you a bespoke service to create your own piece of perfect guilt-free bling!