“To create products for a lifetime and for generations.”
We all know how important it is to make ethical choices, particularly when deciding what to buy and which brands to buy from. We put limits on our fast-fashion habit, seek out ethical brands, and opt for quality, long-lasting products over disposable items, all in a bid to reduce waste and ensure the long-term future of our planet.
How we shop for diamond rings should be no different. But why does sustainably matter, and how do we make it part of our decision to purchase?
We’ll explore the various ways diamond rings can be produced sustainably so that they both stand the test of time but also make a positive social and environmental impact.
Sustainable materials mean lasting jewelry
A fundamental in shopping sustainably for diamond rings is researching how the raw materials are sourced. Knowing how both the metal and diamond have been mined and manufactured will tell you something about how sustainable it is as an item, but also how durable it is.
Look for sustainability accreditation
A brand that holds this to be important will tell you about their practices, letting you know about the accreditations and standards that are important to them and their suppliers.
If you’re buying your ring new, diamonds that are ethically sourced under the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), will mean that they adhere to sound ethical standards.
The KPCS brings together members under the mission to reduce “the flow of conflict diamonds - ‘rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments’ - around the world.” With so-called “conflict” or “blood” diamonds being so damaging to people and communities, the KPCS gives consumers the peace of mind to know their diamonds have been sourced ethically.
Look for ethically sourced precious metals by checking if a brand uses suppliers certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, or other organizations that ensure their supply chain adheres to social, ethical and responsible business practice.
Buy recycled diamond rings
Another path you can choose as a consumer is to look for recycled or repurposed rings. This way, you can make the choice to create a circular product lifecycle, reinventing something from the past for the future. .
Alternatively, “new” contemporary rings can be crafted by repurposing vintage diamonds to give the stones a new lease on life. Vintage rings or other jewelry can have their diamonds removed and reset in a contemporary band for example, while the metal of the old ring can be melted down to be recycled too.
So when you’re shopping for your diamond ring, take a look at collections of post-consumer recycled gold and silver, which include vintage or repurposed diamonds. Not only are you ensuring that good quality diamond rings endure through generations, but you’re reducing waste and any of the detrimental effects associated with sourcing raw materials.
Consider lab diamonds
Lab diamonds are a relatively new category for the jewelry industry, but they have great potential as alternatives to traditionally mined diamonds.
Lab diamonds are synthetically made in a factory setting through methods that replicate the processes whereby huge pressure and heat forge naturally occurring diamonds 100 miles underground. And, while they can’t guarantee to be 100% sustainable, some consider them to be a sound sustainable alternative to natural diamonds.
Notwithstanding the above, keep in mind that while we visit many recycled and repurposed ideas, new materials throughout the supply chain can be part of a sustainable process if they are sourced responsibly and allow the communities from which they come to grow and develop.
Craftsmanship means quality
The cornerstone of sustainable diamond ring production is the quality with which the rings are designed and manufactured.
It would be easy to paint with broad brushstrokes and tell you that mass-produced items are universally harsh for both people and the environment, and that all hand-crafted products are just the opposite of that. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
What is true, however, is that a brand that values its relationship with suppliers and manufacturers will have more quality control over their diamond rings at each stage of the production process. They’re more likely to take an interest in the techniques and processes employed throughout the supply chain, and ensure that materials are sourced ethically, the workplaces that create their products are well managed, and the carbon footprint remains as low as possible.
In short, a closer relationship with suppliers and manufacturers means a higher quality, longer lasting finished product.
Take our working relationship with our suppliers as a case in point. We work with the finest artisans in New York, Europe and Thailand, and continuously strive to make sure our business goals and workplace values are aligned. And because we have such close communication with our partners, we can ensure the highest quality products make it to our customers.
High-quality suppliers and manufacturers
Whether a brand uses smaller artisans or larger scale manufacturers (or a mixture of the two), it’s the quality of the process that matters.
A sustainable supply chain will mean that both the sourcing of raw materials and the production techniques follow best practice in terms of their impact on the environment and on society. And there are certain certifications as mentioned above that brands can qualify for in order to demonstrate their commitment to quality sustainable processes.
Another certification to look out for in jewelry brands is Certified B Corp status. Certified B Corps are businesses “that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.” Assessed every three years on five key areas - governance, workers, customers, environment and community - these brands are judged on the impact on their sourcing, manufacturing and supply chain on the environment and communities in which they operate.
A sustainable product life-cycle means less waste
Broadly speaking, although not always the case, a mass-produced fashion item may tend to involve a more wasteful product lifecycle. When inventories are large and production fast-paced, there’s usually less control over supply-and-demand and on consequential waste.
Conversely, brands which invest in a sustainable product life-cycle will ensure that inventories are kept as efficient and streamlined as possible. Batch lines will be kept smaller so that waste can be managed and that products reach the end consumer in the most straightforward way possible.
Packaging, shipping and energy efficiencies will reduce environmental impact
If you take into account all aspects of creating diamond rings - from mining raw materials, manufacturing the end product in the factory, and shipping the final ring - there is a complex chain of supply to monitor.
Also important are the efficiencies and practices related to the logistics and packaging that will get your diamond ring to you.
Look for jewelry brands that talk about the details of their packaging and transportation. Do they make efforts to pack their products efficiently? Do they use renewable energy in their factories? How about their carbon offsetting programs?
Monica Rich Kosann has made great strides in achieving good practice in the production and shipping of our diamond rings. We use shipping boxes made with 70% recycled cardboard and we ensure the smallest shipping boxes possible are used for our products.
Both our tissue paper used for packing, and our marketing materials and paper jewelry boxes are manufactured using 100% SFI certified materials, meaning environmental impact is kept at a minimum.
We also use UPS Ground Shipping, which is part of the UPS carbon offset program. This means that for each ton of CO2 a package produces during transit, the equivalent level of CO2 is saved by an emission reduction project elsewhere in the world.
We also ensure all our offices and factories are set up with renewable energy - wind, small hydro and landfill gas - complying with the renewable energy definition in the Connecticut statutes. We use LED lighting, automatic timers and programmable thermostats to ensure that energy isn’t wasted.
All these extraneous factors inherent in how a diamond ring is manufactured, packaged and transported add up to determine whether a diamond ring is sustainable.
A commitment to continuous improvement
We’re all learning new ways of living ethically and sustainably, and the same is true of even the most thoughtful brands. Sustainability is hard to achieve, especially when not all parts of the supply chain can be controlled.
That said, a jewelry brand embracing these values will also be committed to learning and adapting to new ways of achieving sustainability. They’ll spot opportunities to improve on sustainable practices, and take you with them on their journey of also giving back to their communities.
Take our “Monica Cares” initiative as an example. We launched this in 2015 to support various causes such as Blessings in a Backpack, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, North Shore Animal League, Women in Need, Girls Who Code and Embrace Race.
More recently, we launched our Volunteer Days program which sees full-time employees either spending a paid work day within the community or Monica Rich Kosann will make a payment equivalent to their daily salary to a charitable cause of their choice.
Introducing our Diamonds Reborn collection
Monica Rich Kosann recently launched our Diamonds Reborn collection.
For a while, we’ve been thinking differently about sustainable and responsibly sourced diamonds, and have recently been inspired to focus our energies on a collection that celebrates recycled and repurposed diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
The collection will include 18K gold pieces set with recycled diamonds that have been repurposed from older vintage items. Also included will be sterling silver styles incorporating lab diamonds.
Diamond rings have received extensive examination over the last few years, with increasing concerns over the sourcing, manufacturing and shipping of the final product. And in a world where attention is increasingly focused on sustainable shopping, many in the jewelry industry has been evolving and adapting its practices.
Sustainable diamond rings are produced in a way in which the social, economic and environmental impact is limited in the hope that tomorrow can be better than today. .
But it goes further than this. Rings that are produced by recycling and repurposing old metals and stones can mean that not only do pre-loved jewelry components not get wasted, but that energy isn’t spent on manufacturing all the elements of brand new pieces from scratch.
Whichever way you look to acquire your diamond ring, a sustainable diamond ring offers beauty and you know that it will be built to last too.
What matters most to you when shopping for diamond rings? Have you managed to find the right sustainable diamond ring?