Get Schooled on Jewels

Brilliant Earth educates about eco-friendly diamonds and gold

When hubby and I were shopping for engagement rings way back in ye olden days of ’07, we didn’t know much about environmentally safe jewelry, and had lots of questions. What’s a blood diamond? What makes “dirty gold” so, well…dirty? Why is a Namibian diamond different from a Brazilian diamond, and how are we supposed to know where it came from anyway? The information I found online was scattered, conflicting, and confusing. <!–more–>  So we bought my beautiful vintage 1920s engagement ring at a local jeweler’s, found a recycled eternity band from Craigslist, and happily sidestepped the whole responible jewelry issue. After all, who wants to go digging for info in the bowels of the Internets? Picking out wedding jewels is supposed to be fun.

Pearl pendant with diamond accent by Brilliant Earth

Pearl pendant with diamond accent by Brilliant Earth

If only I’d discovered Brilliant Earth back then. Brilliant Earth makes exquisite eco-friendly engagement rings and jewelry. They’re the Tiffany of the green scene; a Harry Winston for brides with a conscience. And their inspired Reflections Collection (which includes the jewels pictured in this post) features some of the most interesting and beautiful ethically-sourced gems in the world. But the coolest thing about this company is their innovative website, which has become the absolute best resource online for information about diamond, gold, and gem mining.

Silver Grape Garnet pendant by Brilliant Earth

Silver Grape Garnet pendant by Brilliant Earth

Learning about the environmental and ethical hazards caused by the jewelry industry might sound like a big ol’ snooze-fest, but Brilliant Earth’s Education center is a fascinating treasure trove of shock-and-awe facts. Did you know that gold mining causes cyanide and mercury to bleed into our water supply and contaminate the fish we eat? That gold miners in South America and Africa work 6 to 8 week-long shifts that, drawing commercial sex workers to mining villages and facilitating the spread of HIV? And gold is just part of the story. Children from India to Madagascar to Romania are exploited for labor in diamond mines, and money from the diamond trade funds civil wars in Zimbabwe, Congo, and other African countries. The sale of rubies generates $300 million a year  for the brutally violent ruling junta in Burma. And in Cambodia and Brazil, colored gem mine workers live in poverty while their high value products are cut, polished, and sold in other countries. The story of the jewelry industry is an international drama of epic proportions.

Gold Fair Trade pendant from Brilliant Earth

Gold Fair Trade pendant from Brilliant Earth

Your wedding jewelry may be among the priciest purchases you ever make. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your hard-earned money is funding sustainable businesses instead of evil oppressive regimes? And isn’t it worth a few minutes of reading Brilliant Earth’s articles to get informed? Rest assured that all of the information on the site is unbiased and well-sourced. Their articles are cited and linked to reliable papers that contain a mind-boggling amount of social and environmental research, which the good folks at Brilliant Earth have translated into brief, digestible articles designed to arm consumers with the power and knowledge to make responsible choices.

Scoot on over to Brilliant Earth now and get your education on!

What do you think about gold and diamond mining practices? Tell me about it in the comments, and share your favorite sources for ethically sourced and eco-friendly jewelry with other Recycled Brides.

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5 Comments

  1. I like to buy antique jewelry, and I know people who have bought recycled gold wedding rings online and been very happy with them, from green karat. My family used to live in Africa and it’s important for people to understand all the problems in Africa because of diamond mining. I’m glad that Brilliant Earth is making it easy to get information about this terrible problem.

  2. Although I never used to think about it in the past, now I absolutely want to know where my diamond and gold comes from and how it’s mined. I recently read an article in the National Geographic magazine about gold mining and it made me stop and think. And then the movie “Blood Diamond” revealed many of the awful practices that go along with some companies acquiring these treasures. I want to wear my jewelry in good conscience. Thanks for telling us about Brilliant Earth, I’m going to check it out.

  3. Brilliant Earth, which specializes in conflict-free jewelry (their diamonds come from Canada, and 5 percent of their profits are donated to a fund to benefit local African communities harmed by the diamond industry). And a store you’ve certainly heard about — Tiffany & Co. — deals exclusively with suppliers who use environmentally sound, conflict-free minin — I would only use those two trusted sources.

  4. I’m loving these pieces — And with V Day just around the corner, I think it’s time to buy me a gift…!

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