I used to have a thing for diamonds. Maybe it was too many afternoons eating popcorn and watching old VHS movies — Marilyn in the pink dress; Audrey in the oversized sunglasses — or maybe it was just the fairy-tale scenario that little girls seem to be steeped in since birth.
In any case, I brandished my great-grandmother’s single solitaire diamond with pride through high school and college, until the day my husband and I decided — on a whim, after two weeks of knowing each other, at the ripe old age of twenty-five — to get married, and it became my official engagement ring.
I’m still pining for the diamonds that got away, an eternity strand set in yellow gold that would replace the boring old band that has sat primly on my finger for the past 17 years.
But if I knew then what I know now about gold mining — it leads to razed forests, disrupted eco-systems and giant trenches of earth poisoned by cyanide and sulphuric acid and, according to the EPA, generates more toxic waste than any other industry in America — I wouldn’t have chosen that gold ring in the first place, but would have looked for recycled and upcycled options.
Recycled and vintage options are just as pretty and symbolize a commitment to ethical values, too. I would have sought out ethical wedding and engagement ring designers which utilize conflict-free diamonds from environmentally sustainable mines — rather than African mines, which are known for funding wars, child exploitation and environmental degradation.
Better yet, I would have gone vintage! These rings symbolize a commitment to ethical values, as well as love. And we do have an anniversary coming up.
Honey, are you reading this?