Choosing an engagement ring can be a daunting process. The pressure to find a ring that you’ll love for years to come, the overwhelming number of choices on the market, and the ethical implications of deciding on which stone to get all add up to create an intimidating process.

The mining of jewels is a big business with a tainted history, and you need to be aware of the environmental implications of buying a particular ring. Unique engagement rings are relatively easy to come by – ethical and eco-friendly engagement rings require a little more investigation. Below you will find some top tips and ideas on how to choose an eco-friendly engagement ring:

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Do your research

Most of the world’s diamonds are mined at large industrial mines that have huge negative impacts on the local environment. Colored gemstones mostly arrive on our markets from smaller digging sites, and even though their impact on the environment is less severe, there are still repercussions.

Even if you are looking at a diamond that is promised to come from an eco-friendly mine, the majority of the stones are then sent to sweatshops in India to be cut and polished. Unfortunately, there just aren’t the means to track exactly where your gemstone came from and whether it was mined, cut, and polished in an ethically and eco-friendly manner.

While the Kimberley Process tries to make tracking your gems possible, it falls short, and many unethical gems are often smuggled into the process, and sold as eco-friendly stones.

Go vintage

There are beautiful vintage engagement rings available on the market that don’t come with any negative environmental or ethical baggage. What’s more, some of the rings even come with a detailed history that can be extremely interesting – adding another level of value to your ring. Don’t fret if your family does not possess a grand heirloom, check out online stores such as Doyle & Doyle or even try eBay.

Go Green

Aware of the political stigma surrounding the mining of diamonds, a whole host of companies have jumped on the bandwagon to offer an eco-friendly alternative to you—recycled engagement rings. Combining antique gemstones with recycled metals is a fantastic way of getting the unique engagement ring you desire without having to compromise your ethics or your commitment to the preservation of the environment.

Modern options

Synthetic gemstones, like moissanite, are another eco-friendly alternative. With the same chemical and physical characteristics as natural gemstones, lab created stones may very well be the way forward for eco-friendly engagement rings. Although it is a relatively new venture and it may take time for your bespoke ring to find its way to your finger, rest assured that your purchase is an ethical one! The icing on the cake is that synthetic gemstones are a great deal cheaper than their natural counterparts.

If you’re going to commit to a ring for the rest of your life, make sure it’s the best possible option (just like you did with your future spouse!). Your conscience will forever thank you if you choose a ring that both you and the environment will love.

Images by Shutterstock

Kyra Kuik works for a creative internet marketing company in Seattle, WA. You can connect with Kyra on Twitter.