Ethically Sourced Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

In partnership with Brilliant Earth.

Buying diamonds can sometimes feel like eating foie gras or shopping fast fashion — you can temporarily assuage your conscience by telling yourself plenty of people do, but it still feels a little grimy. Splashy diamond marketing is so glamorous and removed from the realities of the industry that it’s possible to see how shoppers get anesthetized to its evils. Still, diamond mining is synonymous with ethical and environmental exploitation (watch Blood Diamond and you might re-think whether you even care about princess cut vs. emerald cut). Given the extremely fraught circumstances of diamond mining, shoppers have turned to alternatives like antique rings and diamond alternative moissanite. But if your heart is set on a pair of real-deal diamond studs or a tennis bracelet (or if you’re dreaming of a Sweet Home Alabama-esque proposal scene), there is a way to shop ethically. Enter: Brilliant Earth.

Credit: Brilliant EarthMoissanite (a diamond simulant) Bouquet Earrings, $795

Two Types of Conscientious Diamonds: Lab-Grown or Natural

Brilliant Earth’s lab-grown diamonds take the sinister mystery out of the questions: “Where did this diamond come from and who had to do what to bring it here?” They are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds — and they’re not considered a diamond simulant (which cubic zirconia and moissanite are). Celebs who’ve worn lab-grown diamonds include Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Zendaya, Emma Watson, Meghan Markle, Jennifer Hudson — so you’re in esteemed company. Lab diamonds are an excellent option, but if a gem grown in a laboratory strikes you as unappealing and artificial, Brilliant Earth offers another collection of mined diamonds that need not weigh on your conscience either. To learn more about lab grown diamonds, read Brilliant Earth's lab grown diamond guide.

Credit: Brilliant EarthThese lab-grown ¼ carat studs are under $500 (and heart-shaped!)

Transparency sets Brilliant Earth apart from other diamond retailers who label themselves “conflict-free.” Though it may be uncommon, it is possible to mine natural diamonds ethically. The criteria for “conflict-free diamonds” is underwhelming: the narrow definition states only that mining practices do not finance wars against governments. To widen the scope and responsibility of mining standards, Brilliant Earth developed Beyond Conflict FreeTM which raises the lackluster standard by including protection against human rights abuses, minimization of environmental degradation, safe and responsible labor practices, and support of community development. When you select a Beyond Conflict Free diamond, you can be excited about it without reservation.

The Luxe Viviana Diamond Engagement Ring features Beyond Conflict Free diamonds, price varies.

Blockchain is Forever

The story behind grandma’s heirloom ring may be shrouded in mystery, but Brilliant Earth uses blockchain to eliminate opacity in an industry that is notoriously shady. In partnership with Everledger, blockchain-based technology is integrated with the supply chain to securely track gemstone origin and provide greater assurance for responsible practices. Diamonds are often one of the highest ticket price purchases we make, and it makes sense to put as much thought into the origin of the product as we do into the particular stone–especially if you plan to make like Ariana Grande and buy diamond rings for your six best friends.

Credit: Brilliant Earth

Recycle Everything

In addition to lab-grown and blockchain diamonds, you can also shop recycled diamonds with Brilliant Earth. This collection includes diamonds that were previously purchased and require no new mining. It’s a wise compromise for anyone who isn’t fully on board with lab-grown, but also uncomfortable with contributing to new mining (even if such processes are held to more rigorous ethical standards). And unlike purchasing secondhand clothes or shoes, which you’d expect to have some wear and tear, recycled diamonds are graded by an independent gemological lab, so they can be compared to newly mined diamonds for their quality characteristics.

Marseille Diamond Hoop Earrings in 18k gold with round diamonds, $1,150.

Brilliant Earth’s penchant for recycling extends to the precious metals (gold, silver, platinum) used in its jewelry and ring settings. Like diamond mining, precious metals mining has a history of environmental degradation and social injustice. Gold mining is particularly destructive: it requires 20 tons of ore required to produce enough gold for a single ring. Brilliant Earth’s gold jewelry is crafted using primarily recycled precious metals, which helps reduce demand for new mining. Similar to diamonds, precious metals can be recycled repeatedly without degrading their integrity.

Credit: Brilliant EarthThis timeless silver heart can be purchased with either a diamond or sapphire stone, $95+.

In an industry filled with bad actors that hide behind an industry seriously lacking transparency for consumers, it’s refreshing to see a lighthouse brand like Brilliant Earth leading with integrity and commitment to sound ethics. And as awareness grows for lab-grown and ethically sourced diamonds, so too will the stigma around the space as more and more consumers turn to diamond alternatives they can feel good about. And with holiday gifting upon us, now is the perfect time to dip your toes into the world of ethically sourced diamonds. What are you waiting for?

5 More Reasons to Sparkle with Brilliant Earth

  • Pearls & Sapphires & Amethysts, oh my! When shopping with Brilliant Earth, you’re not limited to diamonds. Check out stunning cocktail rings that feature pearls, garnet, topaz, prasiolite, amethyst, and more.
  • Shop with an expert: schedule a 50-minute one-on-one and chat with a jewelry consultant. Both in-person (New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and more) and virtual appointments are available.
  • Responsible sourcing affects every step of the supply chain — even the ring boxes are sustainable. Tasteful wooden ring boxes are crafted with wood sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, which are responsibly managed to protect the forests for future generations.
  • Support causes that range from National Parks to girls' education and equality with Brilliant Earth’s collection of gifts that give back.
  • Brilliant Earth is a certified Carbonfree® company, partnering with to offset our carbon emissions by contributing to tropical rainforest conservation in Brazil.

Shop Brilliant Earth here.

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