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!


Customize Your Ring with Colored Gemstones July 29 2016

You know you want a unique ring and you're pretty sure that you're interested in a colored gemstone--but where do you go from there? What are your ethical options?

We have a wide range of ethical gemstones to select from, with two newly available options!

Chatham Padaradscha Sapphires

Pink stones have been increasing in popularity in recent years, but many available options aren't hard enough to hold up to daily or near daily wear in a ring setting. We have a wide range of Padparadscha sapphires available to us, ranging from light pinks and peachs to more vivid pinks and fiery orange reds, in a wide range of cuts and sizes to fit our Engagement Ring settings.

4mm Chatham Padparadscha Sapphire Crown Solitaire Engagement Ring

Peach Chatham Padparadscha Sapphire Cushion

5mm Rustic Cushion Engagement Ring, 14k Rose, Light Peach Padparadscha Sapphire

padparadscha sapphires

5mm Rustic Cushion Engagement Ring, 14k White, Light Pink Padparadscha Sapphire

chatham padparadscha and chatham morganite

Can you tell the difference?

We get a lot questions asking about creating custom engagement rings with morganite, which has a tendency to chip over the course of its lifetime, making less than ideal for setting in a ring. That's why we had Chatham color match a Padparadscha sapphire for us! The stone on the right is Chatham Morganite and the left is our color-matched Chatham Padparadscha Sapphire! It has the same color and look as the Morganite option, but with a resistance to chip and scratching, so there's no need to worry about damaging your ring!

Don't see the color you're looking for? Our Chatham Sapphires are also available in a wide range of colors, shades, and cuts--send us a message or check out more of our available options here! Looking for a natural, ethical sapphire? Take a look at our Montana and Australia round cut options!

Grey Moissanite

These limited edition stones have a very unique look and color! Because of the way that moissanite is grown, its inclusions present as needle-like, which give the grey moissanite a cloudiness similar to black and raw diamonds, making them a great (and ethical) alternative.

As these are a limited edition product, our supply is also limited. Please contact us for availability or for an estimate.

grey moissanite cushions, 5mm

grey moissanite, 5mm round

Not quite sure what you're looking for, but interested in doing some more research? Read about 4 Ways to Choose an Ethical Diamond and Lab-Grown Gemstones!


Human Rights Campaign National Dinner Auction September 04 2015

These beautiful Silver and Alexandrite engagement rings will be included in the silent auction at the nineteenth annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, DC. These rings are our interpretation of the rainbow, as the alexandrite changes colors from bluish-green in daylight to purplish-red in artificial light.

 "The Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. It is organized and will be operated for the promotion of the social welfare of the LGBT community. By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all."


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.