Words by Tess Becker
Expensive diamond rings have become the poster child of extravagant marriage proposals, but many people don’t know the story behind those gems.
Much of the diamond trade throughout the world is artificially inflated. The world’s largest diamond retailers hold a monopoly over the market artificially limiting the availability of diamonds and driving the prices straight up. That stock is populated by a market full of environmental devastation.
One retailer, Cullen Jewellry, is trying to cut into that market with ethically sourced gems, made with science.
In 2018, the founder, Jordan Cullen was out shopping for engagement rings for his then-girlfriend when he found the things he liked exorbitantly expensive and knew, at least a little bit, about the questionable origins of the gems. He started searching for alternatives but struggled to find any.
“I didn't know anything about the industry or anything like that,” Jordan tells Smiley News. “So I was thinking, I just go to a normal jeweler, buy a diamond, it'd be easy, but it turned out I couldn't afford that at the time.
"So I started to look into something that was going to be a little bit more affordable and in that research, I came across Moissanite and lab diamonds. I realized the differences in the ethical element of those gemstones.”
The displacement of people and the environment ended up being a sticking point for Jordan and he started working with a local jeweler on a moissanite gemstone, an artificial gem sometimes known as a diamond simulant. The work and relationship he formed with the jeweler would eventually shape Cullen Jewellry.
“We wanted to take a different approach where we would be transparent on both the environmental impact of things and also the price point,” Jordan says.
“Our Instagram and our social media currently are just all about education, educating consumers in different ways that jewelers might look to take advantage of consumers who try and bring those things to light so that a consumer, whether they go with us or not, is still going to avoid some of those pitfalls that they may have fallen into."
Cullen Jewellry also has wider initiatives in its business. One of the most prominent is that they pay to plant 10 trees for every engagement ring they sell. Most of the metal they use in their jewelry is recycled, and they even plan on being carbon-neutral by 2023.
“It really takes like a first mover to become the new baseline and then the other players have to fall into line. So I think that us doing it will make a lot more of an impact than just us, but also pressure the industry.”