Diamond Mining & Ethics
Blood diamonds. Sounds scary ominous, right? To be frank, it might be. Blood diamonds are frowned upon by some people since they are associated with abuse, negative environmental effects, and you guessed it - blood. Yet, many people default to a diamond engagement ring, even though there are now options for grown diamonds. The inflated price of diamonds might be an ethical issue in and of itself.
Luckily, our jewelry is affordable and ethically made with sparkling Cubic Zirconia or Moissanite that is indistinguishable from a diamond to the naked eye. Beyond being timeless, our pieces protect against the abuse of human rights, use safe labor practices, and minimize the negative impact on our environment. With a recent general shift toward diamond alternatives, let's dive into how they compare to the real thing and how they can actually be superior in many cases.
THE HISTORY OF DIAMONDS
At the end of the 19th century, enormous diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa, which made diamonds so common that their value was at risk of plummeting, and therefore would bankrupt several diamond mines. Instead, previously competing mine owners made a plan to join together to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. For over a century, this newly formed company had an almost complete monopoly over the entire world’s diamond supply. De Beers stockpiled diamonds and sold them in deliberate quantities to control and artificially inflate the prices.
A SNEAKY MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Diamonds haven't always been associated with marriage. In fact, a clever marketing campaign by De Beers actually created the tradition of diamond engagement rings to combat their own dwindling sales. This campaign changed society’s standards for proposals and the effects of that campaign are still felt today
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, people were struggling to survive while De Beers, despite a near monopoly over the diamond market, was trying to find ways to get people to pay more for their product. They worked with an advertising agency to create a campaign in 1938 with hopes of boosting diamond sales and discouraging resale. Because diamonds weren’t worth much at that time, the course of action was to link diamonds with valued human emotion.
“A Diamond is Forever” campaign, as it is best known, utilized cunning marketing tactics and celebrities in order to persuade the public to believe that a diamond engagement ring is the only proper way to propose - and they succeeded. It became one of the most wildly successful marketing campaigns to this day and caused diamond sales to soar.
For decades, diamond sales remained strong until the late 1990s and early 2000s when it came to light that diamonds were horrifyingly harmful from both a social responsibility and sustainability standpoint. Diamond sales had been found to be funding warlords, violent conflicts, government coups, civil wars, insurgencies, and primarily profited western gem buyers. Consequently, these gems became known as Blood Diamonds.
Beyond bloodshed that was funded by diamond mining, the alarming abuse of human rights, including forced child labor, had been linked to the mining of diamonds. Around 3 million deaths have been traced to conflicts surrounding the mining of diamonds. It has been estimated that at one point about 15% of the diamonds sold were linked to bloodshed and death. Although there are several resolutions aiming to stop what are known as "conflict diamonds" from being sold and to track the origin of diamonds, they are easy to smuggle across borders, and issues of corruption in many countries allow conflict diamonds to be sold to this day.
Due to this fact, people are becoming increasingly less likely to use diamonds as a part of their engagement ring. Many companies that have seen a decline in sales have started to guarantee that their diamonds are conflict-free. However, there have been companies that have had their claims proven false. Although some brands do their best to ensure their diamonds are ethically sourced, it is extremely difficult to track a diamond’s origin with 100% certainty.
Beyond horrifying human rights abuse, the mining of diamonds also contributes to environmental degradation and is extremely damaging to the earth. It pollutes the soil, water, and air around the mine and advances deforestation, soil erosion, and ecosystem destruction. Many leading diamond mines are in countries that cannot afford to lose their limited natural resources. Although there are now efforts to promote more responsible mining practices, there is little accountability, and there continues to be infringements on human rights.
WHAT IS MOISSANITE?
Moissanite is a near colorless gem that is considered to be the closest substitute for a diamond. It is lab-created to be equally durable and have even more luster, fire, and brilliance than a diamond. When naturally occurring in nature, Moissanite is found almost exclusively in meteorites, and therefore is extremely rare. In the early 90’s, however, techniques of making Moissanite in a lab were discovered which allowed it to be used commercially.
With this being said, Moissanite is an excellent choice for people who are concerned about the artificial price inflation of lab-made diamonds or about the other moral issues connected to natural diamonds. There are no moral issues in relation to Moissanite as they are never mined for commercial sale, never associated with bloody conflicts, and have no environmental impact. Moissanite is an ethical alternative that protects human rights, the environment, and your wallet.
For an even less expensive option, Cubic Zirconia is also another popular sustainable choice. If you would like to learn more about how these compare to Moissanite or diamonds, please click the link HERE!
DIAMONDS OR AN ALTERNATIVE?
What attracts our customers to diamond alternatives are affordability, availability, and of course, the avoidance of purchasing blood diamonds. If you are considering purchasing a diamond but are worried about the artificially inflated price and ethics of them, then Moissanite is the perfect option for you. They are dazzling, conflict-free gemstones at an attractive price, thereby freeing up funds to use toward your future home, honeymoon, or for the wedding itself! Learning about your alternative options and their associated properties (which can be found HERE) can assist you in making your final purchasing decision.
If you would like to check out some options for gorgeous engagement rings or anniversary bands, come browse our selection today! To find something more custom, you can build your own engagement ring to fit your own personal style. If you need any assistance, please contact us directly for prompt and courteous help! We would be happy to support you in any way we can.