Tag: over spending

Create Impact with a Unique Ethical Engagement Ring

The craziest part of graduation isn?t finding my life?s direction or figuring out how to make my freelance writing business works. It?s scrolling down my Facebook feed and seeing all of my friends in hidden-camera proposal pictures. All those pictures are precious, but some of them have dark backstories. It?s (usually) got nothing to do with the couple… and everything to do with the ring.

The beautiful diamonds that make the ring ? and the proposal pictures ? don’t always come from the best places. In the worst cases, paramilitary factions own mines that use slave labor to mine precious stones to fund illicit goals. Although world leaders have stepped forward to fight the blood diamond trade, diamond mines also have a massive ecological and environmental impact.

Which means… you don?t just want an engagement ring. You want a unique ethical engagement ring. There are ways to avoid companies that aren’t transparent about their diamond sources or the mine’s environmental impact. Here are three options:

  1. Buy from companies that offer ethically sourced diamonds
  2. Consider a lab-created diamond
  3. Forgo the diamond (not the ring)

Good Jewelers Despise Blood Diamonds

Many jewelers hate blood diamonds enough to be transparent about their sources of your unique ethical engagement ring. Vrai & Oro was founded in 2014 and is committed to ethically sourcing diamonds. Vrai & Oro is also committed to lower prices.

Their website outlines the steps they take to lower the typical markup that customers traditionally pay. Vrai & Oro jewelry is made in downtown LA, so they save import costs and know the exact source of their diamonds. Buying from them gives you transparency, ethical sourcing, and potentially lower prices than a traditional jeweler.

Today, the blood diamond trade is far less of a problem than it was even in the 2000s. In 2003, the UN ratified a piece of legislation called the Kimberly Process. The Kimberly Process requires jewelers to certify that their diamonds are conflict-free and have that certification ready and available. It also includes a monitoring process to ensure that any certified company maintains those ethical sourcing standards. Blood diamonds aren?t gone, but world leaders have taken steps towards ending the blood diamond trade and we must remain vigilant to ensure it remains that way.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Good Money with Good Companies

Diamonds can be Lab-Grown

Ethical diamond sourcing isn?t just about importing from mines across the world. Diamonds can be grown in labs.


A diamond in a mine is formed when?carbon is pressurized and heated in extreme conditions. A modern lab can simulate those same conditions in more accessible settings. So, instead of taking hundreds, thousands, or millions of years to form, synthetic diamonds only take a few weeks or months, depending on the lab. That?s one less giant hole in the ground and far less mining equipment puffing greenhouse gas into the air.

Do Amore is a startup in Houston whose synthetic diamond sales make up about “30% of their gemstone sales.” The founder, Krish Himmatramka, said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that the synthetics are “just as good [as natural diamonds…] and more cost-effective.”? In addition, this company also uses some money from each sale to provide water for communities in developing countries.

Check your local jeweler and see whether they offer synthetic diamonds. A ?synthetic? diamond may not sound like the unique ethical engagement ring of your dreams, but many synthetics are similar in quality to real diamonds and don?t have the negative environmental impact that a real one does.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Real Money with Sustainable Investing

And the Radical Subhead ? Do you need a Diamond?

Alright, hear me out. This won’t be the option for everyone. But you must face the harsh reality that diamond rings can be uncomfortable. I know three moms who don?t wear their diamond rings anymore because they interfere with the small joys of parenthood – like hugging their children.

If you?re a practical couple, then you can get an engraved band instead of a scratchy diamond ring. It?s completely up to you. If you want the diamond for your unique ethical engagement ring, there are some great options out there. But if you don?t need the diamond, your decision just became is a lot simpler… and potentially more creative.

Related: Why We Can’t Save

A Dash of Realism

You?re not a bad person for buying a diamond ring. This is not that type of article. Think of these other options as ways that make your purchase matter to people beyond you and your beloved. The more we bring these types of stories to light, the fewer blood diamonds we’ll have in circulation. Plus, buying lab-grown diamonds will decrease the environmental impact that the diamond industry has on the environment. Or forgo the diamond altogether for a more comfortable and creative option that holds even more meaning.

A diamond engagement ring is an expensive purchase, but while you?re putting so much effort into finding the unique ethical engagement ring of your dreams, you can make a real difference with your choice.

Photo by?Jeremy Bishop

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Money: Talk About It

You meet a boy.? Suddenly everything makes sense, and you understand why people would ever consider getting married.? You marry this boy.? Before and after the wedding, over nearly two decades of wedded bliss, you discuss with the boy the potential issues surrounding the fact that you are in academics and will never make anywhere near as much as he does.? Over and over you are assured that this is fine, that he is the primary breadwinner and that he wants you to pursue your dreams of teaching and writing.

Despite being not only in academics, but in the Humanities, for goodness sake, you are pragmatic and understand the importance of having savings, retirement, etc.? Unfortunately, he does not.? However, he has an incredible job with an even more amazing retirement plan, so you don?t bring it up.

I?m here to tell you to do something about it, and do something now.? Stay on top of the bills.? Keep track of spending.? Make a budget and stick to it.? Why?? Not because he is hiding things from you (I mean, he might be, it happened to a friend of mine, but that?s a different story). Do it because this is a marriage, it is a partnership, and you should both be involved in the finances, even if he is the primary breadwinner.? Yes, even if he is the primary breadwinner.? Now, I am not talking about situations where you both keep your finances separate and agree to each pay portions of the bills. Or where one is responsible for bills x, y, and z and the other is responsible for bills a, b, and c.? This is a perfectly fine setup for day-to-day and month-to-month. (Truth be told, however, you want to be on top of it even in this situation because being married means your credit could be impacted by your spouse’s actions).

Unfortunately, my soon-to-be-former spouse is a spendthrift.? He always has been.? No matter how much he or we made, what promotion he got, what wage increases he was given as he changed jobs, we would still often come up short at the end of the month. Every now and then my credit card would get declined at the grocery store.? I consider myself fairly frugal, and watch my spending, especially when I notice money is tight. I want to make sure there is something left at the end of the month.? Still, there almost never was.? When I would ask him how this happened, it was always a vague ?you know, bills and things?.

I never did stop to look through the accounts and see exactly where everything was going, telling myself that maybe I was just miscalculating and needed to be more careful.? I?m not saying he was gambling it all away or anything.? He just doesn?t think when he spends money.? So seriously, sit down and make a budget with your spouse.? Make sure you both stick to it.? If one or the other of you can?t, then enact some kind of allowance to help keep each other in check.? This sounds harsh, and like you?re treating them like a teenager, but realistically, this is going to hurt you both in the long run if you cannot keep your spending in check.

Also, seriously, keep track of your retirement options.? Start saving early.? Save as much as you can.? I know, this is exactly the boring crap your family and econ professor told you, but I mean it.? I am 40.? I have almost no savings and zero retirement.? That?s right.? ZERO.? Why?? Because my beloved/not beloved decided to clean out his 401k or whatever it?s called and put it into a more fluid account.? Initially I agreed to this because we had a few serious emergencies that required attention, but, again, we set no parameters regarding what would happen after those particular fires were put out.? So what happened?? He just kept spending it.? Sometimes on important things, sometimes not.? And I, stupidly, didn?t ask him and didn?t keep track.? So it went from a six-figure cushion to a few thousand dollars at last look. . . but that was several months ago, so who knows what it’s at now.

You?re probably reading this, thinking, ?Holy crap?? I thought this chick was smart or something!?? Frankly, at first I wasn?t overly worried, because he had a great retirement plan with his new job, and I knew he would build it back up quickly.? And yes, I feel stupid and a bit ashamed that I let this happen, but it did, and now I have to deal with it.

So, take a leaf from my book, and be involved in your finances, especially the savings.? It?s essential.? You never know what may happen.? Your spouse may die, he or she may get injured and no longer be able to work, the industry may crash and he or she could lose his or her job, or in my case, your spouse may decide he doesn?t love you anymore, on top of being a spendthrift and you could go from thinking you have a solid cushion to retire on, when in reality, all you have is half a ply of toilet paper.

Check out our articles on?saving for the future and building an emergency fund.

This article is part of a series that chronicles the real life journey of Lillian Epps, a woman navigating a recent divorce. The stories are real. The names have been changed.?Photo by?norwood.

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