I am not a jewelry person. I could never understand people who wore a ton of jewelry. My minimalistic mindset saw jewelry as an annoying thing to own. Why spend so much money on a piece only to lose it later on? That being said, I do wear earrings on occasion. It spices up my outfits and doesn’t feel too clunky to wear. Plus, I love finding unique earrings from places I’ve traveled. Rings on the other hand are a definite no-go, mainly because I lose them. Engagement rings never appealed to me. At one point I thought I was just going to get a tattoo on my finger instead of an actual wedding ring.
So when my boyfriend (now fiancé) and I started talking about those big “life plans,” we naturally came across the discussion of marriage. He didn’t care to get married, not because he didn’t see a future with me, but because of how institutionalized marriage is. Marriage wasn’t something he needed to “accomplish.” When I became an adult, I also didn’t care for the whole conventional act of marrying and having a large, lavish wedding. But deep down, I knew that I wanted something special to commemorate a loving and enduring commitment. I didn’t want to look back and regret not experiencing that. And what better excuse to get together with all of our loved ones than to throw a party, I mean wedding, and eat loads of vegan food!
Eventually I told my partner that I wanted to get married, but first he had to propose to me. Why the proposal? Again, I saw it as something that I didn’t want to look back on and regret not having. I mulled over the idea of not even having a ring, but then I came across beautiful pictures of these raw stones. Ultimately, I gave him two different engagement ring options. He picked one, secretly ordered it online, and proposed to me in Joshua Tree, California on our two-year anniversary.
My engagement ring has a unique tanzanite stone and a copper band. It’s from a female-owned business that prides itself on highlighting the rawness of Earth’s beauty. The artist ethically and sustainably sources all of her diamonds and stones. They are also “conflict-free,” meaning they don’t come from a country where diamond mining funds armed conflicts. When asked why she chooses conflict-free rings, the artist said, “[It’s] jewelry that I can stand behind. I love that all of the rings I create glitter with uncompromised beauty.” Check out her store here.
My fiancé and I both knew the dark history of wedding rings and I couldn’t stand the idea of wearing “blood diamonds.” These diamonds may end up on stunning engagement and wedding rings, but behind their sparkle and high price tags lies a history of corruption and horrific violence. The diamond market is rife with illegal smuggling, too. Although there’s been an increase in organizations documenting and reforming the human rights violations, a potential buyer doesn’t know where their ring comes from unless it’s sourced by specific “conflict-free” suppliers.
Blood diamonds refer to diamonds that are sourced from areas that fuel civil wars, human rights abuses, forced child labor, and environmental degradation.
The 2006 documentary Blood Diamond showcased just how much violence and killing was perpetuated by the mining industry. Stories of horrific human suffering point to the ludicrous nature of rebel armies and “militias” on their insatiable quest for these jewels. Since then, governments have worked on establishing better transparency. Policies were put into place for when it comes to the selling and transportation of diamonds. A group called the Kimberley Process was formed to oversee the ethical issues of diamonds by none other than the diamond industry itself. Although the group did crack down on a number of human rights violations, their downfall is that they only chose to ban the selling of diamonds that finance rebel militias in war-torn countries. So governments or mining companies that inflicted harm on miners were rarely reprimanded by the Kimberley Process.
I love my ring and couldn’t have asked for a better proposal. Wearing this ring not only benefits me with the healing and metaphysical properties of tanzanite, but it assures me that I don’t have to sacrifice my values for societal trends. For me, a ring symbolizes my commitment to my partner. It also symbolizes the potential of beauty in unadulterated forms. As with my passion for ethical veganism, I strongly value the lives of others. I firmly believe that their lives should not end for the sake of my preferences or aesthetics. In the end, I didn’t have to own a ring. But now I can talk about these issues in conversations where I normally wouldn’t have brought them up. My ring is a conversation starter, and I’m all for that.
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Photo: Rachel McDermott on Unsplash and Paige Butzlaff