Conflict-Free Ring Buying
It used to be that, when it came to choosing a diamond engagement
ring, only the four Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat) mattered.
These days, socially conscious couples are increasingly asking dealers
about a fifth C-whether a gem is conflict-free. Stones dubbed conflict
diamonds originate in rebel-controlled areas of Africa (such as
in Sierra Leone and Angola). They are mined using slave labor and
the proceeds are used to finance civil wars. What can politically
correct brides and grooms do to ensure that the symbol of their
love doesn't come with a hidden price?
1. Ask retailers you're visiting if they use conflict-free
diamonds. Though retailers in the U.S. can't guarantee that their
diamonds are conflict-free, you'll be sending a strong message to
them just by asking.
2. Go Canadian. The Canadian diamond industry has taken
steps to identify diamonds originating in Canadian mines, thus eliminating
any suspicion that diamonds come from conflict areas.
3. Ditch diamonds altogether. Many jewelers have begun
carrying rings set with moissanite, a naturally occurring mineral
that Charles & Colvard manufactures in a lab. It's second in hardness
only to diamond, and displays 2.4 times more "fire" (brilliance,
in diamondese). Moissanite costs about $700 a carat-a fraction of
the price of diamonds.