They say that diamonds are a girls best friend, but who wants to be BFFs with slavery, child soldiers, and the horrific violence that occurs in Sierra Leone, Angola and Congo because of the diamond mining industry? For those of you who haven’t seen Blood Diamond, the mined diamond industry is a dirty business that has thrived on the exploitation of war-torn nations and impoverished people for decades. And even “conflict-free” diamonds are still mined from the depths of the earth – they may be more socially sustainable, they still aren’t environmentally friendly…

Fortunately, you can still have your cake and eat it too in regards to precious jewelry. Your solution to the environmental and social ravages of the diamond trade is both stylish and high-tech: manufactured gemstones! Cultured gems are exactly like their mined counterparts, but are formed in labs with heat and high pressure machines, rather than in the depths of the earth over thousands of years. Greenkarat is a fabulous eco-friendly jewelry company that deals in cultured gemstones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etc), as well as recycled platinum and gold.

My sweetie recently gave me a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring (see above) from GreenKarat, and I love it – knowing that it is not only pretty, but reflects my values and beliefs as well. The sapphire was created in a lab, so I know no forests (or people) in Sri Lanka were harmed in the process, and the platinum is also 100% recycled. The process of working with GreenKarat was really fun: they are a small and flexible company that will happily help you create a personalized custom design from start to finish. GreenKarat was even nice enough to resize my ring when it was too big the first time around, so I can’t recommend them more highly. Finally, their designs tend towards contemporary stylish minimalism – so you can bypass the tacky bling and know that their tasteful aesthetic also helps fight against violence and environmental degradation. Now that’s real love.

+ GreenKarat Ecofriendly Jeweler

GreenKarat’s recycled gold wedding bands, cultured ruby ring, recycled diamond earrings,
and Binary Code ring (you can put a secret message in there!)

Despite what the diamond cartels want you to believe, “cultured diamonds” are in fact molecularly superior to natural diamonds, as they don’t have mineral deposits and other defects of nature. If you’ve never heard of cultured diamonds – or think we’re talking about cubic zirconium here – its probably because the diamond industry doesn’t want you to know about this. The diamond cartels seem to be terrified that the new technology of manufacturing gemstones is going to break their monopoly and artificially inflated prices, and thus have been trying to paint cultured diamonds as “fake” or “synthetic.” Don’t be fooled – cultured diamonds are every bit as “real” as mined diamonds, only they are less expensive and much better for the planet.