This guide will reveal the options you need to solve the moral and ethical issues associated with why people seek alternative engagement rings.

This will be a 3 part blog. The reasons that people choose alternative engagement rings are numerous. There are moral and ethical issues; issues about style; and issues about gemstone options other than diamonds.

I’m going to tackle the first issue in this guide about moral and ethical problems. Two of the guides will feature new designers who are using alternative styles, so by the end of this series, you’ll have plenty of great style options!

If you don’t want a diamond because you are concerned with ethical or moral issues, read on.

Ethical Diamond Mining in Alternative Engagement Rings:

People often want an Alternative Engagement Ring because they object to the moral issues surrounding diamond mining. I applaud your environmental consciousness. You do have diamond options! You can re-use estate diamonds. Estate diamonds are a great way to avoid new mining issues. Many stores have considerable inventory when it comes to estate diamonds (diamonds used from other rings). You can either re-use antique diamonds or modern round brilliant diamonds in that quest to become more ecologically aware. Both are considered estate if they came from a previously worn ring and any jewelry store that deals with loose diamonds will have both on hand. If you want an Ideal cut diamond set into a ring, you’re also in luck. People reclaim ideal cut diamonds along with the lab reports all the time too!

New Designers also use reclaimed and antique diamonds. Here’s a ring from Luana Coonen Jewelry. She reclaimed an antique rose cut diamond in her design.

Here, she reclaimed a Transitional cut from the 1940’s.


Todd Pownell has reclaimed an antique Old European Cut diamond in this ring.

Ethical Gold Mining in Alternative Engagement Rings:

Often, people want an Alternative Engagement Ring because they object to the moral issues surrounding gold mining. I’m glad you’re concerned about this too! I’m happy to tell you that when the price of gold goes up, people turn it in for cash causing more gold to be recycled! I had heard accounts of the gold in the American supply in previous years being as high as 60%! Now that the price of gold is lower than it was several years ago, the gold recycling has gone down, but according to the World Gold Council, recycled gold is accounting for a full 1/3 of the TOTAL supply. That’s a lot, but if you are still concerned, you can request your ring to be made from recycled gold. A lot of jewelry suppliers who supply gold are offering it as a more ecologically sound alternative.

If you want a designer who is VERY concerned with ethically sourced gemstones and metals, go straight to Judi Powers. ALL her materials are ethically, sustainably and morally sourced. If you want rings that FEEL good as well as look good (a very important factor when wearing something every day), she makes jewelry with a nod to how to it feels. Here are what a few of her styles look like, but I recommend putting one on your finger. Once you do, it will feel so good you won’t want to take it off.

Conflict-Free Diamonds in Alternative Engagement Rings:

The biggest reason that people are looking for Alternative Engagement rings is the moral issue of conflict diamonds. Thank you for being so human conscious that you’re worried about this problem. Let me put your mind at ease. The powers that be in the diamond trade together with the United Nations came up with something called The Kimberly Process in the 1990’s. It went into effect in 2000. It’s basically like having a passport for diamonds. It ensures where the diamond originated so you can be absolutely certain that no conflict diamonds entered the market where you are buying an engagement ring.  81 Countries including the United States, Canada, South America, the European Union and most African Countries where diamonds are found are part of this process ensuring that our diamonds are conflict free for almost 20 years!! With the Kimberly Process in effect, I’m not even sure how you could go about getting a conflict diamond in any of the 81 countries now. You might have to travel to one of the countries involved in conflict diamonds to get one yourself. Since you’re not going to do that, it’s safe to say that after 17 years of this enforcement, we’re basically conflict free at this point.

TapByToddPownell has recently begun using a select few man-made diamonds in his designs by request. This way, you have the option of still using a diamond, but avoiding the issues of mining and Conflict diamonds altogether! (Man-made diamonds are physically, chemically and optically identical to natural diamonds. Man-made diamonds((or Woman made, I’m sure there’s at least one woman making diamonds)) are just grown in a lab instead of the ground.) Imagine the diamonds in these earrings set in a gorgeous ring!



Here are some Engagement Rings Todd made using Foundry man-made diamonds.

Besides all the designers here that I know and have spoken to personally about these issues, there are plenty of other designers and jewelry stores who use ethically sourced and reclaimed materials. Just call or email and ask them. Most people in this business are very nice people and will spend time to answer any of the questions you ask them. In fact, most designers and stores I know would be so honored that you have chosen them out of all the people to work with, that they will do everything they can to accommodate your wishes. Tell them what you want, and then be delighted and amazed by what shows up on your finger!

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One Response to “Alternative Engagement Rings- The Guide to Solving Moral Issues”

  1. Judi Powers

    Thank you so much for putting the spotlight on sustainably sourced jewelry! It’s such an honor to be included in the company of my friends Luana and Todd! Talking about sustainability is so complicated and you’ve done a wonderful job of giving clarity to the subject. Thank you!


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