When my fiancé (now husband) and I got engaged, one of the first things that came into my mind when he slipped a shiny diamond on my ring finger was- “I hope this diamond is conflict free.”
I wish I was kidding, but after years of learning about the diamond trade in Africa and “blood diamonds,” I didn’t want to carry that weight on my hand or in my heart.
Luckily for me, before I even had to ask, Andrew assured me that the center diamond was a family antique and not a new purchase and that the pave stones he did purchase were conflict-free champagne diamonds from Australia.
I was relieved and thrilled that my husband-to-be had listened to all my diamond apprehensions over the years. The ring was perfect and I was elated.
|No engagement is without a teensy hitch- my ring was just tad big (hence the band aid to keep it on).|
It did get me thinking though, how can other guys planning to pop the question find stones and rings that are conflict free. One company that I ran across in my research is Brilliant Earth.
Co-founded by Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg in 2005, Brilliant Earth donates 5% of its profits to communities impacted by the jewelry trade, which has left a wake of destruction and in some cases war in its wake. Through partnerships with “established, on-the-ground efforts,” Brilliant Earth is working to help communities develop skills to manage their natural resources to help create a self-sustaining jewelry-based economy.
One example of Brilliant Earth’s work in rectifying the destruction caused by the Diamond industry is its investment in the Diamond Development Initiative’s (DDI) Tukudimuna Child Labor program. The initiative is working to end child mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The program removes Congolese children from diamond mines and provides infrastructure that will help foster them into higher education and better economic situations.
Brilliant Earth’s donation of $10,000 sponsors the enrollment of 108 children from the DRC for a full year where they can learn about sustainable occupations that will enable them to leave mining. By introducing young people to healthier opportunities, the program hopes to eventually benefit the communities in which the children live and work as well.
|Children from the Tukudimuna Child Labor program. (Picture from internet.)|
Beyond its operation in the Congo, DDI is hoping to create a model for other organizations to build upon. Child labor in mines is a global problem, with hundreds of thousands of children laboring in hazardous working conditions.
Brilliant Earth has also joined forces with the Institute of Gemology of Madagascar (IGM), for which it funds two full scholarships for disabled students to learn the art of lapidary (gemstone cutting). The scholarships fund students’ training, as well as equipment and supplies.
Also, in partnership with The Conflict Free Diamond Council, Brilliant earth is supporting MedShare International. The Atlanta based non-profit sends essential medical supplies to hospitals in Sierra Leone., where diamonds helped fuel civil war that left thousands of victims, many of whom lost limbs. MedShare efforts in Sierra Leone are solely dedicated to their treatment and care. Brilliant Earth also is working with One Sky and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) to support redevelopment efforts in areas where the land was devastated by unregulated mining.
In addition to the multiple socially conscious partnerships and programs Brilliant Earth is involved with, they also deliver high-quality and versatile jewelry pieces for women and men, even offering a "build your own engagement ring" option. For ladies, like myself who have already tied the knot, the create your own earrings or pendant sections offer a great option for an anniversary gift. You can also peruse the site's top-selling rings and other jewelry to find the perfect gift.
So, for all you guys (and gals) out there looking to buy a diamond that makes a positive difference, Brilliant Earth might be your new best friend ;)