Conflict-free diamonds can be a good girl’s best friend
~ By Leslie Harlib.
The Cascade matched set from Brilliant Earth, inspired by the sea. In 18K white gold or platinum, from $2,275.
Conflict-free diamonds are hot.
“People ask for them,” says Lori Brooke, manager of Alix & Company Fine Jewelry in Mill Valley. “It’s definitely a trend.”
Books and movies — Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Blood Diamond,” for example — have fueled global concern over where diamonds come from as well as how they are mined. Fortunately, you can now buy stones and settings that are not only stunning, but also will make you proud to wear them. Keep these points in mind:
- Look for diamonds certified by The Kimberley Process, an effort among governments, industry and broader society to halt the flow of “conflict diamonds” — used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. As of 2012, 50 participants representing 76 countries have signed on.
- Some jewelers specialize in conflict-free diamonds. Others are happy to provide supporting information. Says Cherl Spitz, owner of Spitz Jewelers in Walnut Creek, “Consumers can ask for a guarantee that the diamonds have been tracked from site holder to cutter to seller to retailer.”
- Consider laboratory-made stones. Diamond-growing technology has been around for 50 years, but the ability to create gem-quality stones is a recent achievement. The best of these have brilliance, and even colors, comparable to mined diamonds, yet cost from one-quarter to one-tenth the price.
- Eco-friendly settings for your jewels are a glam alternative. Brilliant Earth, which sells only Canadian as well as Namibian and Botswana diamonds mined, cut and polished with fair labor practices, uses recycled gold and platinum in settings to great effect.
- Make a long-term commitment: The Bay Area-based Clarity Project creates and sells fine jewelry that is also ecologically and socially sustainable. Founded in 2009 by three childhood friends and entrepreneurs, it works directly with nonprofits to improve quality of life for gem miners and their families.
Lucida® diamond pendant and ring in platinum, Tiffany & Co., price upon request.
Pear-shaped, 18K white gold teardrop earrings, 1/2 total carat weight. Brilliant Earth, $1,475.
Platinum double bail four-prong pendant with Canadian diamond, on a delicate cable chain. Brilliant Earth, from $1,300.
Vivid pink diamond ring in 18K white gold; custom designs available with various center stone options, Lustre Precious Gems, from $8,000.
Artisan ring, hammered bezel, shown with .7 ct stone in 18K Fair Trade yellow gold, The Clarity Project, from $3,000.
Leaflet and droplet eternity bands, available in recycled white and yellow 18K gold or recycled 14K rose gold, Alix & Company, from $2,200.
Alix & Company, Mill Valley, alixandcompany.com
Brilliant Earth, San Francisco, brilliantearth.com
The Clarity Project, virtual company with offices in Santa Clara and Los Angeles, as well as Sierra Leone, clarityproject.com
Lustre Precious Gems, Westfield Valley Fair, Santa Clara, lustrepreciousgems.com
Spitz Jewelers, Walnut Creek, spitzjewelers.com
Tiffany & Co., stores throughout the Bay Area, tiffany.com
Quadra shaped band of recycled palladium set with a one carat, environmentally friendly synthetic yellow diamond, Alix & Company, from $7,550.
Koala brooch of diamonds, pink sapphires, tsvorites and onyx in 18K yellow and white gold, Tiffany & Co., $75,000.
Lazare Tesoro diamond ring or band available in platinum or 18K white gold. Ring: .26 total carat weight, 7 stones. Band: .18-.23 total carat weight, 10 stones. Spitz Jewelers, from $10,000.
Leaf and vine band in recycled 18K white gold. Set with a rose-cut diamond of approximately one carat and at least .40 carats of diamond pavé. Alix & Company, from $10,100.
Intense yellow diamond ring in 18K white gold, Lustre Precious Gems, from $8,000.