Exactly a year ago today, after 5 weeks isolating apart, Jack drove round to pick me up (after I gave my Mum her last injection, as part of her Cancer treatment) and asked me to marry him!
Not only was it beautiful timing and witnessed by my other two favourite people on the planet (my Mum and my Sister) but he also presented me with a gorgeous ring made by Ethica Diamonds, a local Cornish company run by Mother and Daughter who create ethical engagement rings.
Jack knew that if he was going to propose, the ring could not be detrimental to the planet and he lovingly searched for a small business that aligned with our values.
Ethica Diamonds jewellery is hand-crafted in the UK, under strict labour conditions, safety standards and fair pay, so I know that my gorgeous ring hasn't produced a huge carbon footprint by being shipped across the world.
They use recycled or Fairtrade precious metals to decrease the global demand for newly mined metals, as this will diminish the environmentally and socially destructive effects of dirty gold and other metal mining practices.
They only produce laboratory grown diamonds - this process creates gemstones entirely for the jewellery market, which are of the highest quality, colour and clarity and independently certified by the GRI. They are optically identical to a mined diamond and are hand cut and polished, to exacting standards as mined diamonds are cut from the rough.
If you don't know what the issue if with diamonds you can find lots of information on their website here, but I will cover some of the main points first:
On average, 1750 tonnes of material is extracted to find a 1ct diamond. Extracting diamonds requires deep mining operations, creating a huge hole, with extraction and processing plants on the surface, massive machinery, and a vast spoil heap of rock without diamonds in.
An alternative scenario, where diamonds have been eroded from their deposits over time, and are found in the sediment by rivers, also create huge scars in the landscape, with topsoil stripped, filtered and dumped, either by hand or in huge industrial operations.
Ecosystems are destroyed in the creation of these mines, whether they are looking deep underground or on the surface. Downstream from these mines, water is contaminated, the water table is altered, toxic materials leach into the soil, and migrating creatures are diverted, leaving the people in the area destitute and starving.
Diamond mines occur on lands associated with, or belonging to indigenous people. Some are displaced, some are fobbed off with offers of funding or reimbursement that pay no regard to their traditions or needs. Others remain in the land, exploited, and ground down by the effect of the mine and miners on their health, land, livestock, livelihood and culture.
Global Witness, the human rights charity, estimates that there are over one million miners in Africa living in poverty, earning less than a dollar a day. Their working conditions are highly unsafe, training is minimal, and they lack safety equipment and proper tools. These workers are often forced into this life to pay off debts, or under threat to their families, and their conditions of servitude last for their whole lifetimes.
The cutting and polishing of many of the world’s rough diamonds takes place in India, where child labour is commonplace in the industry. These children are bonded labourers, working to pay off debt, which they are often unable to do before they reach adulthood when the debt is passed to their own children or younger siblings.
Blood Diamonds still exist - Blood diamonds are defined as diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance insurgency.
Ethica Diamonds share much more information regarding how we are paying out way too much for an item that isn't an investment, isn't rare and carries a lot of humanitarian and environmental cost. Instead, make your engagement even more special by gifting them a clean, ethical ring or a secondhand/vintage ring!
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