News

3 Conflict-free & Ethical Alternatives to Black and Salt & Pepper Diamonds October 17 2017

We love black diamonds, raw diamonds, and salt and pepper diamonds as much as the next person looking for a unique, alternative engagement ring. But unfortunately, the majority of those diamonds aren’t truly conflict-free (because at Aide-mémoire Jewelry, we know that relying on the Kimberly Process alone does not actually mean that a diamond is conflict-free)—so what’s a person to do? Well, we’ve tracked down a few great ethical, eco-friendly and conflict-free alternatives.

Black Spinel

.50ct Solitaire Octagon Engagement Ring with Black Diamond Alternative Ethical Black Spinel

Our 5mm Octagon Engagement Ring in matte 14k yellow gold, with a fair trade black spinel center stone.

We're excited to be able to offer black spinel as an ethical gemstone alternative to black diamonds! Black spinels look similar to a black diamonds, but are much less expensive. They are a deep, opaque black color, and are an 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. These black spinel are a fair trade level one, meaning that they can be traced back to the mine in Tasmania Australia, where our fair trade stone supplier have a significant impact on the mining itself. Black spinel is softer than a sapphire, but generally wears well and is more durable than topaz. 

Grey​ ​Moissanite

5mm Gray Salt & Pepper Moissanite Rustic Solitaire Engagement Ring in Rose Gold

Our 5mm Rustic Solitaire Engagement Ring, pictured in matte 14k rose gold with a grey moissanite.

Looking for an ethical and eco-friendly option for salt & pepper diamonds? Grey moissanite has a similar speckled appearance, making them a great (and ethical) alternative. Moissanite is about a 9.25 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which makes them well suited for daily wear. These grey moissanites were part of a limited edition run by Charles & Colvard. We have several in stock in a range of sizes/shapes/colors. However, because they were limited edition, once they're gone, they’re gone.

For more information on moissanite, check out our blog posts here and here.

Dark​ ​Blue​ ​Australian ​Sapphires

Blue Black Sapphire Crown Solitaire Engagement Ring in Palladium

Our classic 5mm Crown Solitaire in matte 950 palladium, with a deep blue Australian sapphire center stone.

These deep blue/black Australian sapphires are a unique alternative to black diamonds. They have a fascinating depth to them, appearing mostly black, but flash with subtle hints of blue under direct light. Sapphires are a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, so are suited for daily wear, and we have a limited number of these beautiful stones in stock in 5mm round.

Send us a message to get started customizing your engagement ring with one of these gorgeous stones!


Fair Trade Montana and Australian Sapphires April 19 2017

While diamonds and moissanite remain popular choices for a more traditional engagement ring, a lot of customers are interested in the array of fair trade sapphires we have to offer. From light sky blues to deep blue greens (and just about everything in between—honestly!), we have the have the perfect stone with which to customize your engagement ring.

Sapphires are considered one of the most durable colored gemstones and are great for everyday wear, making them well-suited for engagement rings. Our fair trade sapphires are closely tracked from mine to market following strict protocols—including environmental protection, fair labor practices, and health and safety standards—which makes them the perfect choice for an ethical engagement ring. 

5mm Teal Blue Montana Sapphire

Above: 5mm Teal Blue Montana Sapphire

5mm Rustic Classic Engagement Ring, 14k White, Teal Blue Sapphire Square Solitaire crown solitaire

Left to right: 5mm Classic Engagement Ring with Rustic Texture, 14k White Gold, Teal Blue Montana SapphireSquare Solitaire Engagement Ring, 950 Palladium, Denim Blue Australian Sapphire5mm Crown Solitaire with diamond side stones, 14k White Gold, Light Denim Blue Montana Sapphire

3mm Australian Sapphire, Princess Cut 

Left to right: 3mm Princess Cut Denim Blue Australian Sapphire; 3mm Princess Cut Green Australian Sapphires

5mm Crown Solitaire, 950 Palladium, Light Denim Blue Montana Sapphire

Above: 5mm Crown Solitaire, 950 Palladium, Light Denim Blue Montana Sapphire

 

Left to right: 5mm Light Olive Green Montana Sapphire, 5mm Green Montana Sapphire

4mm Rustic Solitaire, 14k White Gold, Light Green Sapphire 6mm Stone Texture Hand-carved Classic Band, 950 Palladium, Flush Set Australian Sapphire Three Stone Ring, 14k White Gold, Australian Sapphires

Left to right: 4mm Rustic Solitaire Engagement Ring, 14k White Gold, Pale Green Australian Sapphire; 6mm Stone Texture Hand-carved Classic Band, 950 Palladium, Australian Blue SapphireThree Stone Engagement Ring, 14k White Gold, Australian Sapphires

Above: 6mm Teal Blue Montana Sapphire

Not sure if our fair trade sapphires are right for you? Still interested in our customized rings? Have a look at some more of our customized items or check out our blog post on Chatham Padparadscha Sapphires and Grey Moissanite! 

**Please note that stone coloring may vary depending on lighting conditions, your own monitor screen, and stone settings. If you'd like to see additional images of any particular stone, please send us a message


Customize Your Ring with Fair Trade Sapphires June 30 2015

We just got in a great selection of fair trade Australian and Montana round sapphires. These sapphires come in a beautiful range of blues, greens, teal, and aqua. They can be used in most of our current ring styles, and are a great custom option for your ring!

Fair trade stones are closely tracked from mine to market following strict protocols – including environmental protection, fair labor practices, and health and safety standards. 

You can view some more of the available stones here, or contact us about customizing one of our engagement rings with one of these ethical and eco-friendly sapphire. 

 


4 Ways to Choose an Ethical Diamond January 12 2015

You know that you want an ethically and environmentally conscious diamond. That’s great! But if you are like many people out there, knowing precisely what that means is an entirely different story. What exactly is a conflict-free diamond? How is a diamond gemstone related to environmental risk? Here is a guide designed to explain the separate characteristics and benefits of the four types of diamonds that we offer. We’ve very carefully chosen these diamonds to work with because they have minimal environmental impact and high labor standards – we only select sources where workers are treated well and paid fairly.

Octagon Ring with Recycled DiamondsOctagon Ring with Recycled Diamonds

Recycled Diamonds

A “recycled” or second-hand diamond is our standard conflict-free diamond option. It is one that has already been previously mined. These classic beauties are meticulously graded, re-polished and buffed to their original sheen and luster to be placed in new settings. A recycled diamond is, on average, significantly less expensive than a new one. By choosing a recycled diamond, you are not contributing to the more than 150 million carats of new diamonds that are mined from the earth each year. Unlike lab-grown diamonds, second-hand diamonds also have greater availability. But, perhaps one of the best features of recycled diamonds is the allure of time; these gemstones have the aura of having seen different decades and periods in history. It is rare, but some recycled gemstones are so old that they were cut by hand directly at a mine more than a hundred years ago!

Classic Band with Lab-grown Flush-set DiamondClassic Band with Lab-grown Flush-set Diamond

Lab-grown diamonds have several great features that make them another ideal choice for socially and environmentally conscious brides and grooms to be. They are typically twenty to thirty percent less expensive than newly mined diamonds, have extensive options for customization in size, cut, clarity, and color, while still maintaining the exact same chemical composition of a natural diamond. New diamonds from heavily sourced, conflict-zone locations further pollute the surrounding environment and often place mineworkers in danger for shockingly low wages. In contrast, the lab-grown diamonds we work with are created in the Netherlands. No water or air pollution result from their production and only a modest amount of energy is consumed. For this process, they primarily use renewable resources.

Three Stone Ring with Champagne DiamondsThree Stone Ring with Austrlian Champagne Diamonds

If a newly-mined natural diamond is your choice, then choosing a mine that ethically sources diamonds is key. We only work with two diamond dealers for newly-mined diamonds who have proven that they adhere to the highest labor and environmental standards with mine to market traceability. They go far beyond the requirements of the Kimberly Process, which aims to prevent any “conflict” diamonds from entering the marketplace, but relying on the Kimberly Process alone is not enough to insure that a diamond is conflict-free. 

Newly-Mined Canadian Diamonds

Newly-mined diamonds from the Canadian Arctic must adhere to strict standards outlined by the Canadian Code of Conduct and other government authorities. They are all certified as conflict-free and must be cut and polished responsibly. Employees in the industry are paid fair wages, and efforts are made to reduce negative environmental impact as much as possible.

Newly-Mined Australian Diamonds

Similar to Canadian-mined diamonds, newly-mined Australian diamonds are also subject to closely monitored standards that value socially ethical and environmentally responsible practices. One of the more unique aspects of Australian-mined diamonds is the array of natural colors available. They range from translucent yellows, soft chocolate browns, and other earth-tone varieties.

Square Solitaire Engagement Ring with Recycled DiamondSquare Solitaire Engagement Ring with Recycled Diamond

Availability

In our efforts to provide the very best ethically and environmentally conscious diamond options to our customers, we adhere to the strictest standards of traceability that sometimes limit the availability of certain gemstone cuts. Raw diamonds and black diamonds are typically hard to secure as they very often can be traced back to conflict-zones. However, we are more than happy to work with you in your search for the perfect diamond regardless of your varied needs.

3mm Classic Engagement Ring with Recycled Diamond3mm Classic Engagement Ring with Recycled Diamond

Grading

Diamonds larger than .23 carats, which is approximately 4mm in diameter, typically come with a certificate outlining the stone’s grading for cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and origin. Diamonds smaller than this carat weight are considered “melee” and are traditionally loosely graded and will not be paired with an accompanying certificate.

If you would like a diamond other than our standard recycled diamond option, or have any questions regarding specific aspects concerning carat weight and other factors, please feel free to contact us! We will work one-on-one with you to determine your best available options. We can either work with information you supply us, or we can do all the hard “sleuthing” and come up with an ethically and socially responsible diamond we know you will love forever.

 

 


An Eco-Friendly Choice: Lab-Grown Gemstones October 02 2014

Here at Aide-Mémoire Jewelry, we meet a lot of new clients who are perfect examples of what makes the Pacific Northwest so special: they value the environment, and love living in an area where the ocean meets the mountains meets the forest meets the city. They are nature-lovers through and through! This is what makes us the perfect team.

Image courtesy Andie Powers. Photo by Jaquilyn Shumate Photography

Most couples who value nature and the environment want to wear a piece of nature: a natural stone. The term “lab-grown” makes them feel uncomfortable and as if they are choosing something unnatural. However, one of the best things that eco-friends can do for the environment is invest in a lab-grown, synthetic or cultured stone.  

Does that mean that a lab-grown gemstone is not a real gemstone? No! The only thing that differentiates a lab-grown stone from a mined gemstone is its point of origin. Here are some benefits to a synthetic or cultured stone:

• They are REAL gemstones in every sense: chemically, physically, atomically and optically.  
• Lab-grown gemstones have a significantly lower impact on the environment.
• They are typically created by skilled laborers that receive fair wages and benefits, unlike most foreign mining practices.
• Lab-grown diamonds are rated with the same rating system as mined diamonds--the Four C’s--which are Clarity, Cut, Color and Carat Weight, and are available in different colors. 
• The primary lab-grown stones that Aide-mémoire offers are lab-grown diamonds (by request) and Chatham created gemstones (an option for many of our engagement rings).


Another type of gemstone is a simulant (not to be confused with a synthetic gemstone). Some common simulants are diamond simulants--stones that resemble diamonds--such as cubic zirconia, Moissanite, white sapphire, and lead crystal. These stones are usually much less expensive than mined or synthetic diamonds.

  

5mm Moissanite Rustic Cushion Cut Engagement Ring
5mm Moissanite Rustic Cushion Cut Engagement Ring. Choose from Moissanite, Forever Brilliant Moissanite, or a Chatham Sapphire.

Moissanite is another type of gemstone to consider if you want to minimize your eco-footprint--and one of our favorites! This is a jewel created from silicon carbide (SiC), based on naturally-occuring Moissanite (very rare--and originally found in meteorite particles). These are very hard and durable gemstones, second only to diamonds, but are much more brilliant!  

If you’ve really got your heart set on a non-synthetic or non-cultured stone, a recycled diamond may be another option for you. These are diamonds that are naturally occurring in nature and were previously set in jewelry which has since been removed, re-polished, then sold as loose diamonds. 

Questions about lab-grown or synthetic gemstones? Send us an email! We'd be happy to talk you through your options.


Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Wedding or Party September 18 2014

Here at Aide-Mémoire Jewelry, we very much value practices and products that promote ecological consciousness and sustainability. It is what we are all about! So, we thought we'd put together a few eco-friendly tips for your upcoming wedding or party! See below for how you can make your event just a little more sustainable:

Invitations: This one is a given. Avoid deforestation for the sake of an invitation that may just be throw away! Recycled papers can be just as stunning, and come in all colors and textures. Recycled paper or recycled cotton stocks are best, plus for a bonus, find a printer that uses earth-friendly, soy-based inks. Also, consider placing a "please recycle me" notation on the back of your invitation.

Image courtesy Artcadia

 

Tableware: If you've got your heart set on disposable tableware, make sure to avoid plastic at all costs! All disposable plastic (that includes balloons and other favors!) is bad for the environment on many levels. Bamboo cutlery and paper straws are better options.

Another option is biodegradable, compostable plastic. However, make sure that the product packaging states that the plastic is approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) with a logo seal. All biodegradable waste should be disposed of at a commercial composting facility. 

Image courtesy Ali Express

Beverages: Did you know that according to Band the Bottle, "last year the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38"? All the more reason to ditch those plastic bottles for your event! Unneeded, disposable plastic water bottles are a reception no-no. Opt instead for decanted water, diffused with fruit and herbs! (Click the link below for a fabulous citrus and cucumber water recipe). For more facts about why we should "ditch the bottle," head over to Ban the Bottle.

Image courtesy No Gojis No Glory. Click for citrus & cucumber infused water recipe.

Decorations: There are so many lovely ways to decorate your event with eco-friendly options that are useable event after the event! Recycled paper materials are best for any necessary favor bags, and consider decor and gifts that keep on giving like succulents, baked goods or vintage accoutrement. Think minimal, and reduce decorations as much as possible. Waste not, want not!

Image courtesy One Fab Day.

We hope these tips help you create the most perfect, eco-friendly event that you possibly can, and don't forget the cake!