Conflicted by diamonds? Here are your best options....

Myth and Stone Arabesque charm on model

Diamonds! Girl’s best friend or not so much? I’ve been wanting to talk diamonds for a while but it felt like a daunting topic for many reasons so I put it off. With diamonds being April’s birthstone and considering I used a fair amount of them in my most recent Sacred Spaces collection (I am clearly in the natural diamond camp here), I felt like it was time to dive in.


First off, I’m no diamond expert (so much to learn!) but I notice that the enigmatic diamond can evoke confusion or strong feelings in some customers about where they come from, whether they are ethical, what the alternatives are etc, so maybe we can navigate that together. Read til the end to find out what your best options are for natural diamonds! 


I’m going head first to confront the ugly. We’ve mostly all heard of the 2006 movie Blood Diamond by now, it was created in response to some very real and terrible diamond mining conditions during the civil war in Sierra Leone. I think this movie was important in highlighting these issues but also left us to never trust a diamond again. The good news was this conflict prompted diamond producing countries to create what’s called the Kimberley Process where they are required to prove their diamonds are conflict free. This greatly reduced the number of forced labor diamonds from the market (but from what I’m hearing it isn’t entirely foolproof). 


The other piece of news that trips people up about diamonds is that DeBeers essentially created a campaign in the 1940’s to convince us that we all need them in engagement rings and employed the slogan “A Diamond is Forever.” Also that they control the market through price fixing and that diamonds aren’t in fact all that rare. All of this is arguably true and I would agree that knowing these things is enough to scare anyone away from wanting anything to do with these stones–BUT I feel like this isn't the whole story on diamonds.


Diamonds both are and aren’t rare. They only occur in a handful of places on earth….the thing is when you do find them, you tend to find an abundance of them based on the way they form. Diamonds are made up of pure carbon and form under extreme heat and pressure hundreds of miles below the surface of the earth in these volcanic tubes called kimberlite pipes. They were created anywhere from hundreds of millions to billions of years ago when these incredibly deep volcanic eruptions pushed them towards the surface. 


Isn’t that fascinating? Something so beautiful–and extremely hard, as they are the hardest substance on earth–created under such extreme conditions….I find the metaphor appealing. They are 50 times harder than the next hardest stone, the sapphire. And the way their atoms form in lattice-like structures enables them to bend and scatter white light into rainbows. Yes please. 


To go back to our current (diverse) opinion of diamonds–I’d say we are only looking at recent history to form our judgments. Before diamonds were ever found in Africa, India was the main source for thousands of years–as long ago as 4th century BC. They would find them mainly by panning riverbeds (as they are found in many places in the world) and they were always highly prized, to be a diamond expert was a coveted position. In the Hindu tradition, diamonds formed the eyes in sculptures of deities and were believed to bring good fortune. Diamonds have an important role in Indian jewelry historically and still today.


Being made up of pure carbon, a diamond symbolizes purity and strength–due to their hardness and the story of their creation. They are said to help us gain clear insight into our life situations, adopt a higher perspective, to help us problem solve, and to dispel depression and fears. And as I said earlier–they bend light into rainbows (called refractive index) more than any other natural stone. 


I feel there are many reasons to love a diamond and so I spend time looking for reputable dealers who make transparency and traceability their priority. As promised I wanted to offer my best options for getting that sparkle without the worry. 


The diamonds I use are all certified conflict free from companies I trust but if location is important to you, I can source Canadian mined diamonds. Diamonds can also be sourced from Brazil and Australia but to a lesser degree. Some of the smaller diamonds in my recent collection were recycled–I have a source for those too, but you might think about reusing some from your own jewelry box. Another exciting option is ocean diamonds. I found a company in South Africa that employs a small boat of divers to find diamonds on the ocean floor and I’d love to work with them. 


Though I’ve said all this–there’s still no need to desire a diamond if a diamond is not what you desire! I think the best alternative is a sapphire….they are strong and durable and come in every color of the rainbow. And they are a bit easier to source with traceability. I find all natural gems beautiful and I’m excited that this movement is now unfolding for small miners to have a place in the market and for customers to know where their stones are coming from. The more we care, the more things improve. 


I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you would or wouldn’t choose a diamond and answer any questions you might have if I can! Everything in this world exists in neutrality…our judgment, perception, or value of that thing is simply a projection, and does not make a thing inherently good or bad. It’s so interesting to see how these perspectives can shift over time. This conversation is one that is ever evolving but I hope this helps bring a clearer perspective to the topic of diamonds.


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Xo Meryl 

PS. A lot of people are jumping on the lab grown diamond trend and I have to say it’s just not for me–I’m a natural stone kinda girl. There’s a lot of greenwashing in that field and while the effects of mining are thwarted, it actually takes three times as much greenhouse gas to produce a lab grown diamond than a natural one. They are currently dropping in value and from what I’ve read they are mostly produced in China and Russia and controlled by their militaries. So these aren’t sounding as sweet as they once did, but the choice is always yours to make!

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