When deciding to buy a diamond ring to commemorate a special occasion, I was concerned about contributing to the ongoing conflict in Africa and other regions of the world. As a responsible consumer, I wanted to avoid feeling guilty for feeding a trade that has done so much damage to human rights.
I started my research with an internet search that quickly led me to the Brilliant Earth website. The website is sleek and easy to use, but anyone can build a nice website and claim that their materials are ethically sourced. I decided to dig a little deeper.
I first spent some time reviewing Brilliant Earth reviews across various sources. Most of the reviews were positive but focused on the quality of the jewelry or customer service. Only a few customers had taken the time to do diligent research about their ethical sourcing methods.
Brilliant Earth’s website claims they are a certified member of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC). That sounds great, but I had no idea what the council was or what it meant to be a certified member. Another quick internet search verified that Brilliant Earth is a certified member of the RJC. The RJC requires that certified members adhere to the Code of Practices, which is certified through a third-party.
The Code of Practices outlines sustainability best practices and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The Responsible Jewelry Council institutes initiatives on responsible sourcing as well as enforcing supply chain diligence. I liked the concept of third party oversight, but I still wanted more information.
What does conflict-free mean?
The most basic definition of conflict-free diamonds come from the United Nations (UN) Kimberly Process Method. The Kimberly Process Method ensures that the entire supply chain does not support or finance rebel movements. That is the minimum a business must do to comply with the Kimberly Process Method and decry their diamonds as conflict-free.
Brilliant Earth takes their conflict-free claim a few steps further by ensuring that their diamonds are sourced from places that comply with the Kimberly Process Method, but also:
- Protects against human rights abuses
- Minimizes environmental impacts
- Maintains safe and fair labor practices
- Supports community development
One of the many complaints that I saw about fine jewelers that advertise “conflict-free” diamonds is that they do not have a systematic way to track their diamonds. Last year, Brilliant Earth instituted blockchain technology to track the source of every diamond they sell from the mine to your finger.
Brilliant Earth also uses recycled diamonds, lab-made diamonds, and track all of their diamonds from Botswana, Canada, and Russia.
The buying experience
Once compiling sufficient research to feel assured that purchasing from Brilliant Earth was responsible consumerism, I genuinely started searching through their inventory. I was surprised to find that a large portion of their inventory was priced competitively with other online retailers. I had expected a significant premium for the work they do to ensure their diamonds are genuinely conflict-free.
The website was easy to use, and though the pictures were well presented, I did find it hard to narrow down my selections. There is something to be said for being able to try on rings in a brick and mortar store. I visited a local jewelry store and tried on numerous rings to get an idea of the size and style I wanted.
Once I had tried on rings in person, I had a clearer picture of what I wanted from Brilliant Earth. I found that I could design a ring similar to what I had seen at the local jeweler in the lab-created selection. After all my research, I still felt better with a diamond created in a lab. Lab-created diamonds not only ensure the diamond is conflict-free, but it also reduces the environmental impact of mining.
I used the create your own tool to customize the ring exactly as I wanted, but a few things caused apprehension. First, as I mentioned, it is disconcerting to spend so much on a product you cannot slip on your finger and see. I also had some concerns about whether the diamond would look real.
It arrived before the estimated delivery date, and I am pleased with the quality and the design. I might have over-thought the entire purchase process, but I feel good about what I bought. Surprisingly, the price was lower than what I could buy locally and yes, the lab-made diamond has the same clarity as a mined diamond.