Make love not war on Valentine’s Day
If you're wondering what to get your love interest for Valentine's Day, it may be helpful to recall the legend of St. Valentine.
As the story goes, Valentine was a priest in ancient Rome. The Emperor, Claudius, was fighting various wars, but he was having trouble recruiting soldiers.
Believing that young lads without wives would be more likely to volunteer, Claudius decreed a ban on all marriages.When the kindly Valentine refused to stop marrying couples, he was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded.
Years later, the Pope declared Valentine a saint, and the day of Valentine's death - February 14 - became a holiday for lovers.
Make love, not war
The message of Valentine's Day is as simple as that old 1960s slogan: make love, not war. And that's why, when you exchange gifts on Valentine's Day, it's important to be sure that you are not unintentionally contributing to wars, violence, or human rights abuses.
It's no secret that the international jewellery industry does not have the best track record for social and environmental responsibility. In fact, in many countries, the mining of precious gemstones and metals is more of a curse than a blessing. Brilliant Earth was established to pioneer a more ethical model for the jewelry business. We are dedicated to offering the finest in ethical origin rings, earrings, and pendants, as well as to raising awareness about the social and environmental consequences of the way jewellery is often produced.
The end of blood diamonds?
Probably the most well-known ethical issue associated with jewellery is the problem of blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds. In some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d'Ivoire, profits from the sale of diamonds are fuelling ongoing civil conflicts and government instability.
In other countries, such as Zimbabwe or Angola, the story is no less alarming. Mine workers, sometimes children, are often forced to work against their will. Workers that are paid usually receive meager wages and are subject to torture, rape, killings, and other devastating human rights abuses.
Many jewellers claim that the Kimberley Process, an international certification system established in 2003, has solved the problem of conflict diamonds. However, the Kimberley Process was set up specifically to sever the link between diamonds and civil wars against recognised governments. It makes little attempt to stop other human rights abuses that occur in the mining and trading of diamonds.
Just last November, the Kimberley Process decided to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe, even though Zimbabwe's government has used torture, killings, and child labour to extract diamonds from the country's mining fields. Thus, a diamond certified as "conflict free" under the Kimberley Process may nonetheless have a sordid history that associates it with the worst human rights violations.
Dirty pretty things
Beyond diamond mining, the jewellery trade abounds with unethical practices. Coloured gemstones, such as sapphires and emeralds, are frequently mined in ways that exploit workers, communities, and the environment.
Gold mining is an especially dirty process, releasing toxic chemicals such as mercury and cyanide into water supplies and generating about 20 tons of waste for every gold ring that is produced. Gold mining also fuels violence and human rights abuses - in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is a major cause of a civil conflict that has claimed more than 5 million lives since 1998.
Sparkle with a difference
Brilliant Earth is proud to offer a wide assortment of stunning, high-quality jewellery from certified ethical origin sources. All of our diamonds come from mines in Canada and Namibia that adhere to the most rigorous labour and environmental standards.
We use recycled gold and platinum to avoid the need for dirty gold mining, and we also offer ethical origin pearl, emerald, sapphire and lab-created diamond jewellery.
Whether you're looking for that perfect diamond ring, shopping for a Valentine's Day gift, or perhaps both (Valentine's Day is a great day to propose, after all!), you'll want to check out our gorgeous collection of ethical origin fine jewellery. That way, you can proclaim your heartfelt affection while remaining true to the spirit of St. Valentine.
Find out more about Brilliant Earth - ethical jewellery