For the majority of engagement ring purchasers, the first question on their mind is, “Will my significant other like it?” Or, more realistically, “Will it get the job done?” Sustainability isn’t always a top priority.
But several fine-jewelry brands are proving that wow-worthy rocks can still be mindful of the environment by using recycled metals, ethically sourced and vintage gemstones, and eco-friendly business practices. At the forefront of mixing sustainability and luxury is Monique Péan. Péan’s fine-jewelry business has been sustainable since Day One, utilizing recycled metals, fair-trade and conflict-free stones, and fossils collected in Alaska and Colorado that range from 10,000 to 156 million years old. The reasons to buy a sustainable ring are obvious: Péan estimates that “mining enough gold for one wedding band can produce over 20 tons of waste,” in addition to the dangers of the mining process itself, which releases cyanide, lead, and mercury into water sources. “I learned how environmentally and socially damaging many of the industry practices are,” Péan told Style.com, “and wanted to follow a different business model that would affect positive change.”
Since the early days of Péan’s business in 2006, recycled metal and consciously sourced gems have become more popular. Still, Péan encourages consumers to do their research into what they buy. “It is important to consider how the materials used to create the piece of jewelry were sourced, as well as how the jewelry was assembled,” she explained, adding of her own process, “We work with artisanal miners and mines that are dedicated to social and environmental responsibility. All of the pieces are then handmade in New York by master bench workers with no chemicals or pollutants being released into the environment.” And if you think that all sounds a little granola, you better think again. Péan’s elaborate creations are anything but expected. (Those lucky enough to wear an engagement ring by her design will need to get used to the “oohs” and “aahs” that come with it.)
Conscious courters, take note of Péan’s works and the designs of several other sustainable brands featured in the slideshow above.
—Steff Yotka, Style.com