Though April is almost over, I wanted to be sure to write a post about April's traditional birthstone, diamond! As you may have noticed, I do not use any diamonds in my jewelry, other than heirloom diamonds that a few clients have asked for me to create special homes for. The diamond industry is ugly, and I do not use new diamonds because I do not want to risk contributing to the use of conflict diamonds. Even conflict-free Canadian diamonds have their issues - namely strip-mining and water contamination from large scale exploitation to find these valuable stones. I think that the current trend of using colored stones, such as sapphires, instead of diamonds in engagement rings is fantastic. Not only does it decrease the demand for diamonds, but it doesn't contribute to the perpetuating notion that you must get a diamond ring when you get engaged. Here are two examples of custom eco-friendly engagement rings I've made which feature all-natural Montana sapphires:
As far as April birthstone jewelry goes, quartz makes a great alternative to diamond. Especially "Herkimer Diamonds", which are found only in the Herkimer County region of New York state, where my husband and I spent our honeymoon looking for these beautiful stones. Check out these photos from our trip, and the ring I made with one of the beautiful crystals that we found:
Quartz is found in many places across the US, including Maine, Arkansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and California.
Interestingly, there are a small number of diamonds found in the US, at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas! Just recently, a 6.19 carat diamond was found there. This place is certainly on my list of places to visit someday. But since US diamonds are very rare and not widely available, I highly recommend considering the more eco-friendly and socially-responsible alternatives for your jewelry needs.