Most of us have heard of conflict-free diamonds, made popular by the movie Blood Diamond, and increasingly couples are asking about the origins of their diamonds. Big chain stores offer conflict-free diamonds at a premium, if at all, leaving customers with little option for an ethically sound purchase without breaking the bank. Recently, I stumbled across a jeweller called the Fair Trade Jewellery Company with an answer to this problem, offering both fairtrade and fairminded gold and platinum, as well as the option of fully customizing your ring. Prices are comparable to what you will find in big chain stores and you come out with a ring that you really want.

I stumbled across their storefront on a lunch hour, enticed by their diamonds and bling, and came out with a greater appreciation for what they stand for and impressed by what they offer. I sat down with co-founder and chief designer, Ryan Taylor, about what they do and here is what I found out.

Fairtrade, fairmining and conflict-free assurance (and insurance!)
Fair Trade Jewellery Company is North America’s original certified fairtrade fine jeweller. FTJCo partners with FLO-Cert and Fairtrade Canada (fairtrade.ca and fairgold.org), committing to traditional methods of mining with a low impact on environment. They also ensure that the miners are paid fairly for their work. All the metals come with a certification number that can trace it back to the specific community it came from. For their documentary on Fairtrade Fairmined Eco gold please visit ftjco.com/Fairtrade. Once your metals are picked out, selecting a diamond also comes with peace of mind. All the diamonds purchased at their store are mined in Canada, governed by world class standards to ensure they are mined fairly and legally. All of these diamonds purchased from FTJCo include jewellery insurance (how sweet right?). In fact, the first year’s premium is on them and include everything from theft to damage.

Beautiful custom made rings

Customize your rings for a personal touch
Not only can you get a piece of jewellery that is socially and environmentally sound, FTJCo also customizes rings to a couple’s liking. This is a great way for a couple to create ‘matching’ wedding bands with a secret engraving or stone put into the rings. If you have an intricate engagement ring design, ask them to create something that will match it. Or perhaps you have a diamond ring that has been passed down in your family and you want it made into a fabulous modern ring for your girlfriend? This can be done here too, with no extra cost for using your own diamond (not many jewellers will let you do this!).

Fully custom build your ring
FTJCo prides themselves on custom building rings. A couple can come in and create get their rings from scratch. That means the designer will work with you to sketch out a design, create a custom mold for your ring and fire it up. Create something truly unique or come up with the design of your dreams that you haven’t found anywhere else. Like a tailor, they will work within your budget and create something you are comfortable with.

Loaner rings – a great way to propose
Ok so I love many things about this store already, but this one is the kicker. Say you’re a (smart) guy and want to give your hope-to-be fiance the pleasure of a custom-built ring, but you are unsure where to start and don’t want to risk all the work of creating something she may not like. Purchase a loaner ring for just $200 to propose with, then come in together and let her create the design she really loves. The $200 gets put into your ring balance (minus the cleaning fee) and you can let the store know what your budget is ahead of time so you don’t have to awkwardly talk about finances during the meeting with the two of you there. And how fun it is to anticipate the creation of your designer ring, it’s like two proposals in one. Some people may think this is tacky, but I think it’s so smart. Especially if we’re talking about a girl who knows what she wants and a guy who recognizes that. It really is a win-win situation.

A tension set diamond ring

The experience
My guess is that the experience of purchasing a ring here will be very different than at a Tiffany’s or at a Birks store. The designer of your ring will be much more invested in your customer satisfaction than a sales person who has moved on to their next commission. Not only will a couple come out with a ring that is unique in it’s commitment to positive change, but unique in its design too. And again, very comparable prices, especially for a ring that can be customized to your liking with fairtrade and fairmining practices.

I think I’m sold. What a great alternative for couples and individuals looking to make a purchase that reflects their values and commitments. Especially for what is such a big purchase for some people, you want to know that you made the right choice. Time for you to drop into the store and see what they’re about!

Couples and individuals wishing to make an appointment can do so here: http://ftjco.com/visit

Photos courtesy of FTJCo.

Read about Rebecca’s experience in designing her own engagement ring here.


Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.

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