If you are planning on getting engaged you might already have been reading up on ethical gold and wondering where to find conflict free diamonds. But it is unlikely you have come across much on the subject of pre-loved engagement rings being the most ethical choice for brides to be, and that makes us pretty mad!
Over the years I have written many articles devoted to ethical jewellery but have never explored the ethics of buying pre-loved jewellery specifically. This is partly because jewellery journalists are always chasing newness, but also because it’s a far cry from the aspirational world portrayed by brands and designers. Jewellery is a glamorous world; ethics are not. But with more consumers questioning what they are wearing – from where it came from to who made it and in what conditions – it's a topic that’s important to us at The Vintage Ring Company and also a growing number of jewellery lovers.
The first and most important thing to know about pre-loved engagement rings is that they are 100% ethical. That’s a pretty astonishing statement, but it’s true nonetheless. With ethical gold, the metal must still be mined, causing unavoidable, and often irreparable, damage to the environment, while even recycled metal needs to be refined and mixed again before it can be reworked into a new jewel.
There are many grey areas surrounding diamonds and gemstones that are sold as conflict free, also (something the Ethical Unicorn covers very eloquently here). And that’s before you consider the environmental impact and human rights violations associated with the multi-billion-pound diamond and gemstone mining industry.
With a pre-loved engagement ring you are recycling something that has already been made, which creates no ecological footprint whatsoever. This makes a second-hand engagement the greenest option out there.
My partner at The Vintage Ring Company, Arabel Lebrusan, lives her life according to the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – and her ethical fine jewellery brand reinforces her beliefs. I have a long way to go in that respect, but over my years as a journalist I have become more interested in the ethics of jewellery, and how important it is to look at a jewel and consider its journey – how it came to be – rather than admire it for its beauty alone.
"Understanding the origin and life of a jewel will help you make an informed judgement on its ethics. A piece of ethical jewellery with a great story behind it is beautiful both on the outside and the inside too," says Arabel. Whether you lead a completely zero waste life, are at the start of your own ethical journey or are just in love with the idea of a vintage engagement ring, buying a ring that has been worn and loved by someone else before you is not only more meaningful, but also one of the most significant ethical decisions you will ever make.