Even the most minimal among us appreciate the artistry behind a piece of fine jewelry; it’s expressive and personal. I don’t have a lot of jewelry, but every piece has a story, and it’s incredibly important to me that my pieces are made by well-paid artisans and of ethically sourced materials. So, that pretty much means I stay away from diamonds entirely. Natural diamonds represent a toxic system of exploitation and greed; miners are paid significantly less than a living wage, if they’re paid at all. There’s also the issue of child labor. And let’s not forget that many mines are also tied to violent authoritarian regimes or rebel movements (these conflict diamonds are depicted in the box office smash Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio).
On top of all that, mined diamonds are not actually worth what they cost; most natural diamonds are owned by one of a few corporations that create a false scarcity of the rocks, keeping stores of them tucked away and releasing only a few each year. Even the tradition of giving a diamond as an engagement ring is a fairly new tradition, and even that was created by an advertising campaign by De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. Luckily for us, there’s a new crop of conscious jewelers who are tackling this industry-wide problem with new technologies married with traditional techniques, like Clean Origin.
Clean Origin is a company founded by third generation jewelers that creates and uses lab-created diamonds. They not only sell gorgeous engagement rings and other jewelry, but also sell their diamonds alone, meaning small artisans can have access to their ethical lab diamonds and shoppers can find stones to give life to keepsake bands or damaged heirloom pieces. Alexander Weindling, the founder and CEO of Clean Origin, recognized that there’s no longer a reason to harm the earth and others for dazzling stones. Now, he’s most proud of the impact Clean Origin makes by offering shoppers a green alternative to diamonds. It’s not always easy, he says. They do a lot of education about the sustainability and worth of lab-made diamonds. Consumers go with what they know, and the popular belief has been that if it’s not from the ground, it’s not a “real” diamond. It’s hard to change people’s minds, especially if they’re making investments in engagement rings that embody their love for someone else.
“Sustainability is part of larger ethos of caring for each other. Once we start to value every human life as a brother and a sister, our thinking naturally evolves to include our home- planet earth.” — Alexander Weindling, the founder and CEO of Clean Origin
It seems the tides are changing, and Clean Origin is at the forefront of the movement away from mined diamonds. Their lab-grown diamonds are identical to real diamonds, down to the molecular level. They’re both made of pressurized carbon. The only difference is that one likely came from the ground and was unearthed by exploited mine laborers.
Now the process of “growing” the diamonds mimics the natural process, and the result is something that looks, feels, and acts just like a naturally occurring diamond. These consciously created diamonds are simply more ethical and sustainable than natural diamonds. As I mentioned above, natural diamonds are linked with terrible labor practices, but these mines are also connected to environmental destruction as they dig deeper and more aggressively for stones, they destroy huge stretches of natural habitat. Also, lab-created diamonds aren’t backed by millions of dollars and decades of marketing, so you’re not manipulated into paying significantly more than they’re worth. The capital costs of mined and lab-grown diamonds are fairly similar when it comes to cutting, polishing, and inspection. Both are graded to the same standard, but you’ll get the lab-created diamond for significantly cheaper.
Thankfully for Weindling, he has a great team behind them. Clean Origin requires zero labourers and has no brick and mortar stores so they can keep their costs low and focus on making great products and changing popular opinion about created diamonds. To help customers feel good about their choice, they offer free shipping, free resizing, a 100-day return policy and a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
Every one of their customer service team all have at least five years of experience in the diamond industry, so they can answer questions with authority about the difference between diamonds, the cuts and styles best suited for different rings, and the process of making versus mining them. It’s slow going, but they’re truly disrupting this old industry that’s in need of a shakeup.
“I believe we are the only online retailer of lab grown diamond engagement rings whose small side stones are also exclusively lab grown. We won’t handle a mined diamond of any size—ever,” promises Clean Origin founder and CEO Alexander Weindling.
So if you love the look of diamonds but hate the exploitative, manipulative nature of the diamond industry, there’s finally a solution – it’s Clean Origin.
To view Clean Origin’s range of diamonds, rings, wedding bands, earrings and bracelets, visit cleanorigin.com.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Clean Origin. Specific product information is provided and checked with the company. All images supplied. For more information about our policies, click here.