The story behind the sparkling engagement tradition is a long history of politics, capitalistic greed and propagandist marketing. With giant heritage brands dominating the conversation and perpetuating misinformation, Valley Rose has taken on the huge task of dismantling these systems of oppression in the hopes of creating a more equitable one.
Consumers are increasingly demanding that their engagement rings meet the highest standards of ethical and environmental responsibility, by protecting people and the planet. But what does that even mean?
Through intensive research Valley Rose founder Brittany Groshong discovered that mainstream materials marketed as “ethical,” like recycled gold and the “conflict-free” mark by Kimberley Process have absolutely no impact on the current crisis the jewelry industry faces.
Consumers are being exposed to the most invasive kind of “Eco-Theater” that fails to address the complex social and environmental issues within the industry, allowing these atrocities to continue unfettered.
The term “Blood Diamond” is now a prevalent concept for most of us, thanks to the 2006 Film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Seventeen years later, consumers are still aware that the story behind their diamonds might have a more sinister origin.
But unfortunately the horror film that is the diamond industry continues.
Gold mining has had a similar story but dating back much further. The savageries of colonialism were perpetuated through the bloody acquisition of gold.
Present day, gold mining is still synonymous with the darkest forms of exploitation that affect vulnerable communities and ecosystems throughout the world.
In an oversaturated and confusing market, jewelry industry newbie Brittany had her work cut out. Coming from a background in art and graphic design, she used these skills to develop an innovative jewelry brand.
About Valley Rose
Founded in her garage in 2017 with only $10,000 in savings, the next 5 years was a crash course in jewelry design, global politics and environmental studies.
Since inception, Valley Rose has made it a mission to use out of reach and hard to come by sustainable materials the primary focus of the collection. By making these revolutionary materials radically more accessible to their clients, every piece of jewelry that leaves their studio becomes an active force for good.
Starting with ethically sourced gold, Valley Rose casts their bridal jewelry with the most transformative gold in the world. Backed by industry experts and 3rd party audits, Fairmined certified gold goes lightyears beyond what recycling gold will ever do.
Sourced from countries like Columbia and Peru, these certified Fairmined mining facilities promote thriving local communities and offer employees paid family leave, health insurance, equal gender opportunities, proper work protection, safe chemical handling, environmental safeguards, and livable wages.
This program is the gold standard for how all gold should be mined.
For diamonds, Valley Rose has partnered with WD Lab Grown diamonds, the first 100% Climate Neutral SCS-007 Sustainably Rated Lab Diamond.
This innovative new diamond certification takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the many issues in the diamond supply chain.
Invented in 1948, Lab Diamonds are certified real, meaning that they are chemically and physically identical to diamonds mined from the ground.
The new SCS sustainable diamond standard was created to bring something that was sorely needed in the jewelry space: accountability and trust.
This revolutionary new accreditation not only addresses the need for innovation and improvement in the diamond industry, but it also introduces the fifth C: Climate Neutrality.
One cut above the traditional diamond four C’s, (cut, color, clarity, and carat), Climate Neutrality is also something that needs to be considered when discussing diamonds, as it has been one of the biggest contributors to pollution and environmental destruction.
Besides climate neutrality these diamonds guarantee origin traceability using SCI forensic analysis, a robust ethical stewardship program by social justice experts, and sustainability investments made towards ASM mining communities.
Valley Rose’s Sustainable Engagement Ring Collection is committed to making sustainability beautiful. Each bespoke piece is handmade by master artisans in Brooklyn, New York.
The collection is a vivid exploration into the brilliance of diamonds. Each one of their carefully crafted engagement rings and wedding bands feature materials that meet the highest standards for ethical and responsible sourcing.
From a classic solitaire design, to unique multi-stone engagement rings, and custom bespoke design work, any design you love will be guaranteed to be eco-conscious from beginning to end.
Below is a Q&A with Brittany Groshong, founder of Valley Rose.
What is Climate Neutral Jewelry and why is it important for consumers to understand?
Today the average 1 Carat mined from the earth (for non-jewelery experts that is the average size stone for an engagement ring) consumes 127 gallons of fresh water, emits 143 lbs of carbon pollution, uproots 250 tons of earth, and more than half have problematic ties to corrupt governments and less savory characters.
For gold mining, 1 ounce of mined gold emits 1 ton of CO2, and it is a common cause of rainforest deforestation, drinking water pollution, and indigenous land theft.
Gold mining also contributes to human trafficking, child labor, deadly working conditions and slave labor. These facts are depressing and unacceptable.
We do not believe that jewelry should cost the earth, especially something that is supposed to be the purest symbol of love: an engagement ring.
Climate Neutral Jewelry is our answer to a broken system and a step towards a more positive and equitable future.
Our Sustainably Rated 100% Climate Neutral Diamonds are the cleaner future diamonds. We believe that diamonds can have minimum environmental impact and still be beautiful even if that means it is grown in a lab.
By using materials that take a comprehensive approach to these convoluted global issues we as business owners are just doing the bare minimum really. It is only up from here!
For those who are not aware of the term what is ASM mining and why is it important in the industry?
ASM stands for Artisinal Small-Scale Miners. These people are the heroes in the jewelry industry and are also so often overlooked.
When we talk about recycled gold or most Lab-Grown gemstones, we bypass these important communities of artisans who rely on mining for their livelihood.
Often times these individuals are using low-impact tools, have more environmental stewardship than their corporate counterparts, and are self-employed small businesses.
Profits generated from ASM goes directly into the pockets of individuals which is used to support their family and community instead of 90% of that profit going to a corporation or malicious actors.
Luckily there is a growing movement to support and develop these artisanal businesses with things like safety-training, safe chemical-handling, going mercury-free, assistance with licenses, access to equipment, and lastly to help connect them to distributors and jewelers around the world.
The SCS-007 Sustainably Rated Diamond program allocates 20% of profits to programs that support ASM.
The Fairmined Gold certification is 100% ASM, and they work towards bringing in new ASM every year by assisting them with converting their operations into the Fairmined standard.
Valley Rose also donates 1% of sales to Gem Legacy, a nonprofit whose vision is to create thriving colored gemstone mining communities.
What are your goals for Valley Rose over the next few years?
We have very high aspirations to be a major player in this space and to be the industry leader in ethical jewelry. Our first philanthropic goal is to promote Fairmined gold as the standard gold that consumers think of for ethical jewelry instead of recycled gold like it is now.
On the horizon for our jewelry collection, in early 2023 we will be launching a collection with Aether Lab Grown Diamonds.
They are the innovators behind the first climate positive lab-diamond made entirely from carbon pollution captured in sites all over the world.
Aether Grown Diamonds happen to be the rarest diamond in the world while also having the most positive environmental impact.
We also plan to structure our company as an example for how all businesses should distribute their money.
As the business grows and profit increases we plan to dramatically expand our environmental contributions instead of distributing excess money to the top executives or using it for monopolistic tactics.
What platform/tools do you use to run your social impact business?
In my past life as a Creative Director I was surprised to find that all my larger clients still used these tools and it is a testament to how scalable they are to any business size.
Because my background is in web design, I use a team of programers to customize my Shopify and don’t need to rely on too many apps which gets confusing to maintain anyways.
Causeartist is a multi media company spotlighting impact entrepreneurs, impact startups, and corporate social responsibility.