Among environmentally and socially conscious couples, traditional engagement rings purchased at Tiffany’s that feature the largest diamond three month’s pay will buy are not so cool when more ethical, sustainable and meaningful options are available. One goal is to use conflict-free or ethical diamonds that are not associated with civil wars, unfair pay, unsafe working conditions, human rights abuses and unsavory environmental practices. Earth-friendlier choices include rings inherited from family members or purchased at estate sales, as well as lab-generated gems and custom-designed, one-of-a-kind rings.
According to jewelry designer Amanda Jaron
, of Naples, Florida, there’s a trend in the younger, first-time wedding market toward alternative gems. “It might be a lab-created diamond like a moissanite, or what they call a salt-and-pepper diamond, which has many black and white inclusions [imperfections], giving the stone a speckled or smoky look.”
Gemstones and jewelry handed down by family members or acquired at an estate sale are also popular and represent the bulk of Jaron’s creative work. “There’s nothing more special than a gemstone that has two or three decades worth of life to tell,” she says. “I love being able to create fabulous, modern pieces that my clients can wear proudly. What’s better than a sparkly treasure that also has sentimental value?”