Sustainable and Ethical Wedding and Engagement Rings

Updated: Sep 29

Getting engaged and married is always an exciting thing! I know many people who get excited about finding the perfect ring and planning for a beautiful ceremony and/or reception whether it be big or small. The key part of a marriage that everyone many are invested in happens to be the engagement and wedding ring. While these rings might not be necessary for all, it is important to some. To some, it represents the union of two individuals and the promise of everlasting love. While it is great to look for a ring that is both aesthetically pleasing and representative of you or your partner, it's also one of the most controversial aspects of marriage. This is due to the impact it can have on the environment and human rights. The harvesting of diamonds has always had vast ethical concerns due to the fact that many miners are subject to unsafe labor practices and unfair wages. Additionally, the harvesting of minerals and diamonds often results in toxic waste that ends up in the ocean, contaminates the groundwater, and/or the land is stripped of vital minerals forever.


While there are negative implications to purchasing wedding and engagement rings, that doesn't mean you can't purchase them! As I've said before, there is almost always a sustainable version of what you're looking for. That still holds true for wedding and engagement rings! One of the most conscious ways to purchase a ring is obvious; purchase second-hand. Luckily for us, there's a HUGE market for second-hand rings! You're sure to find one that embodies your personality! Check out places like eBay, vintage finds on Etsy, pawnshops, or antique stores. Have a jeweler nearby? See if they have a section for pre-owned jewelry. Usually, these are items that were bought and returned, or sold to the jeweler that is resold for a fraction of the cost.


Looked through those second-hand options but still want to keep your mind open to other options? Purchase from jewelers that specifically use recycled materials, or ethically sourced and sustainable materials! Here are some places to check out:


Melissa Joy Manning

Price Range: $$$ - $$$

Melissa Joy Manning is a socially responsible fine jewelry brand based out of California and New York. All of their jewelry is inspired by unique and modern designs inspired by her travels and experiences with arts and culture. All of the pieces are made to order, limiting the amount of potential back stock and waste. Additionally, Manning's production studio has been certified Green by the State of California through their adoption of a zero waste method of production, carbon offsetting, and use of renewable energy in the office. Manning is also the co-chair of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Sustainability Committee. All of the diamonds and stones used in the jewelry are ethically sourced from Canada or are reclaimed. When possible, they focus on domestic sourcing to ensure US labor and environmental regulations are being met. Wanting to customize your ring? Schedule a consultation!



Bario Neal

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$$

Bario Neal was founded by designers Anna Bario and Page Neal. While inspired to create jewelry that told a story, they were also distraught with the unethical practices used to create fine jewelry. Wanting to do their part to put a stop to illegal and unethical practices, Anna and Page made it their mission to create pieces that were not only of lasting value, but also of ethical origins. All pieces, both custom made or from a collection, are designed in their studio and created using reclaimed precious metals. Additionally, Bario Neal sources their materials from ethical and conflict-free regions such as Namibia, Canada, and Australia. Portions of your purchases go to organizations that further support environmental sustainability and marriage equality.



FTJCo.

Price Range: $$ - $$$$

Interested in finding a jeweler that can not only sell from a pre-established collection but also custom made using your own existing pieces? Check out FTJCo.! I love how I can bring in my old jewelry (specifically diamonds and stones) and create it into something totally unique and sustainable. While they can't really use the metal since it gets weaker during the re-melting process, they are more than happy to issue credit for the scrap and swap it with new 18K gold or platinum! In partnership with IMPACT's Just Gold, FTJCo. was the first company to export traceable, conflict-free gold directly from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through IMPACT's Just Gold initiative, miners are loaned equipment and equipped with the resources needed to build ethical and sustainable businesses from the ground up. FTJCo. is also B Corp Certified and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. Major plus: 80% of the company is female!



Trumpet & Horn

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$$

If antique and vintage rings are more of your style check out Trumpet & Horn. When founding the jewelry company, the owners aspired to create pieces that were not seen as an investment but as an heirloom to be passed down to future generations. With this in mind, they sell pieces that fall into three categories: authentic antiques, vintage, and vintage-inspired. These pieces were either previously owned and created in different eras or designed to resemble such pieces (vintage-inspired). Additionally, since many of these are antiques and vintage, there is zero impact on the environment since it was an existing piece. To continue promoting sustainability, any pieces designed by the company are made using recycled metals and repurposed stones primarily made from damaged vintage jewelry.



AUrate New York

Price Range: $$ - $$$$

AUrate New York is one of several brands I always recommend when looking for jewelry! Not only are they very reasonably priced, but they are also one of the most transparent jewelers around regarding their sustainability initiatives. AUrate truly believes that you can sell high-quality jewelry at fair prices without compromising sustainability. All of their pieces are designed using 100% recycled gold that is ethically and sustainably sourced. Additionally, any pieces utilizing stones or precious gems are tracked from the mine to the warehouse using the Kimberly Process. AUrate strictly chooses mines that have safe working conditions, fair labor pay, and are respectful of any local indigenous communities. For every piece of gold sold, AUrate donates a book in your name to local communities.



Catbird

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$$

Catbird is a sustainable fine jewelry brand based out of Brooklyn, New York that was founded by Rony Vardi as a way to share her love for eclectic style. All of Catbird's pieces are made in-house in their Brooklyn studio. All diamonds used in the jewelry are recycled from conflict-free suppliers that exceed the requirements of the Kimberly Process, or they are lab-created diamonds. As for their gold, Catbird uses recycled materials or those harvested from sustainable and ethical mines. Additionally, Catbird has their own foundation through which they donate 1% of their profits to charities selected by the women-run business.



Alexis Russell

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

Combining her creative talents with her love of fashion, Alexis Russell began her jewelry line in 2005. Russell aspires to create jewelry that is modern yet raw, earthy and understated, but also elegant. All pieces are made using recycled metals and conflict-free gemstones and diamonds. Alexis Russell is also a partner of Carbonfund.org.! Personally, I love how many of these pieces can be combined and stacked to create a design unique to you and your personal style.

Taylor & Hart

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$$

Taylor & Hart specializes in designing bespoke jewelry; jewelry custom made for you! While many other brands create custom designs, what I love about Taylor & Hart is how widely available they are. You can find locations or speak with jewelers in the US, UK, EU, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa! However, if you'd rather choose a design from their collection you are more than welcome to it! Taylor & Hart knows your ring should be representative of the love you and your partner share for each other and not a symbol of un-ethical standards. That is why they only use ethically sourced gemstones and diamonds.



Noemie

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$$

Tired with the middlemen and markups of traditional retailers, Noemie set out to pioneer their own process to design, create, and sell directly to the consumer. Noemie uses the finest of materials to create their timeless designs such as reclaimed 18K gold, conflict-free stones, and lab-engineered diamonds. All pieces come lifetime warranties and certification cards so that you can rest assured that your jewelry is insured and authentic. Local to SoHo and prefer an in-person consultation, stop on by!



James Allen

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

Since 2006, James Allen has served as the largest privately held online retailer worldwide. James Allen has more than 200,000 conflict-free diamonds, and a vast library of ring settings, loose diamonds, and pre-made designer pieces; they are sure to have what you're looking for! Additionally, they offer 24/7 customer service, free worldwide shipping, and a lifetime warranty for all of their pieces!

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