Would you feel good about a wedding ring if it was created by maltreated labor or with materials that trashed the environment? Does your expression of love just extend to your intimate ones; or beyond them to the greater human family? It takes real courage for a bride and groom to even consider these issues, but there is a greater danger for those who ignore them.
With the recent controversies of blood diamonds and dirty gold, it is easy to conclude that many in the jewelry industry lag far behind other business sectors in terms of environmental and corporate responsibility. But there are jewelers out there that are passionately concerned about the environment and the fair treatment of the human family. Finding these fair, compassionate, ethical jewelers can pose problems though.
Here are ten points to consider when purchasing such an environmentally friendly piece of jewelry online. The first five points focus on questions you can ask to determine if a ring is fairly and ethically produced. The last five concern the jeweler’s reputation and things you can investigate on their website – they can be applied to the purchase of any wedding ring online.
1. Ask the jeweler where they source their precious metals. It can take up to twenty tons of mining to produce one wedding ring. It is now possible for a jeweler to produce rings made from recycled gold, platinum and palladium, so ask about recycled metals, as well as the actions the jeweler’s taking against using dirty gold.
2. Ask the jeweler what their in-factory environmental practices are at their own location. Jewelers can offset the carbon use of their employees and production from travel and commutes. They can recycle extensively, purchase green sourced energy if available, and use compact fluorescent lighting. They can choose to use less toxic fluxes and chemicals. Any jeweler who is concerned about these issues will be able to talk about them in detail when you ask.
3. If the jeweler is manufacturing internationally, ask what their environmental practices are off shore. First, determine where the piece was made and then find out as much as you can about the practices of that company by searching for them online and even searching for names of current investors or executives in the company. Their past actions will give you an idea of their current practices.
4. What are the environmental effects of the mining of your diamond? This is a difficult question to answer for just about any diamond coming out of Africa, even with the Kimberly Process. Ethical jewelers typically offer Canadian diamonds that bypass the African DeBeers supply chain.
5. Gemstones. There are just a few gemstones available from environmentally concerned mines. A few jewelers are able to source directly from suppliers who work with environmentally responsible sourcing.
6. Research the reputation of the jeweler. A company that you work with online should have some kind of third party consumer advocacy group, such as the Better Business Bureau, that assures you that the company is reputable. Many companies also list testimonials from satisfied buyers, but such listings have more credibility when they have a last name, physical origin and at least a first initial. A brick and mortar store location that has been in business at least ten years gives added credibility.
7. Consider the depth of the line. A jeweler with a reputable line of wedding rings should be able to offer the same style in various widths. The gents sizes are wider and paired with ladies sizes. Most engagement rings are under 4.5mm. That means that they can be worn with a match under 9mm, which is about as wide as two rings can be for the average person. Most men prefer a ring between 6.5mm and 8.5mm. Some men prefer wider sizes, and some ladies, narrower. The width of a ring is really a matter of personal taste.
8. Sizing of the ring and resizing. This point is often overlooked by someone who purchases a ring online. How will the company help you out after you purchase the ring? Some rings have sizing bands and some are made without. Sizing bands make the ring easier to size, which is important because many people will lose or gain twenty pounds during the course of a marriage. Some are comfort fit as well, which means that the rings are convex in such a way that the center of the ring touches the finger instead of the entire ring.
9. Customer Service. After you have reviewed the products, make a list of questions and give the company a call. A company that is concerned about their environmental practices should have sales people who can articulate the practices. You can learn a lot simply by spending some time talking to the person who picks up the phone.
10. The soul of the ring. Some pieces of jewelry really do feel better than other pieces. A wedding ring is the most important piece of jewelry you will own and it will carry irreplaceable sentimental and spiritual value. The rings should be unique and resonate with your own profound, sacred connection and commitment to your beloved. You may well want to ask the company to send you a sample of the wedding ring before you place your order.
By raising these issues, you will be helping to change an industry. If just five percent of the market asked jewelers about environmental sourcing, we will see a huge shift. Do your part and buy an ethical, green wedding ring to celebrate your commitment to your beloved through your commitment to the great human family!
About The Author: Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images an winning company, www.celticjewelry.com and www.artisanweddingrings.com, that produces fair and ecologically sourced jewelry designs. Marc authors www.fairjewelry.org a movement website for consumers and jewelers supporting green, fair trade, socially responsible business practices in the jewelry industry. He also originated The Circle Manifesto, www.circlemanifesto.com, a business model based on indigenous wisdom traditions.