Your Diamond Engagement Ring Can Be Sustainable and Affordable: How Frank Darling is Pioneering a New Engagement Experience
How Frank Darling is Pioneering a New Engagement Experience
The demand for conflict free engagement rings, specifically conflict free diamond engagement rings, is not new. Ever since we learned of the horrific practices involved in diamond mining and the diamond trade, we refused to buy these so called “blood diamonds.” That our diamond ring be ethically sourced is essentially a given at this point.
The more apparent it is that we are connected, what with social media giving us access to friends across the world in real time, the more we care. We care about where our products come from. We want our coffee fair trade, we want our dresses sustainably sourced. We are aware of our carbon footprints and the need to preserve our environment. So, it just follows that we also want sustainable jewelry as well.
What does ethically sourced mean?
An ethically sourced diamond is one that was obtained with adherence to a defined set of environmental and labor regulations. So this means that there were no sketchy things going on, like forced labor or child labor; the working conditions were safe and the sale of the diamond was not used to fund something like a local war or terrorist activity.
In the United States, all commercially sold diamonds must adhere to the Clean Diamond Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. This Act states that all diamonds that are either imported into or exported out of the United State must strictly follow the Kimberley Process and have certificates to show for it.
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process is what regulates the trade of rough diamonds. It prevents the sale of diamonds that fund local conflicts and helps ensure that the trade or sale of any diamonds is legit. Countries who participate in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme must meet certain requirements and agree to follow a set of rules “that governs the trade of diamonds.” And they’ve done a good job of it, too, because, according to the site, the members of this group has been able to stop 99.8% of the production of conflict diamonds in the world.
What is a sustainable diamond?
Sustainability takes into account how systems in nature function and produce what it needs to stay in balance. We know that humans require some amount of resources to exist and live in the modern world. However, we want to balance the need to improve technology and grow economically with protecting the environment. Not only this, but to make sure that no one suffers as a result of any environmental laws, and to look at the long term effects of the actions that we take as a whole (1).
The most common way of mining diamonds, called pit mining, has had significant negative effects on the environment. It burns millions of gallons of diesel fuel a year, and ruins the landscape to obtain diamonds, which is a nonrenewable resource.
A sustainable diamond has minimized the carbon footprint and eliminated the negative social impact of obtaining the diamond. The health and wellness of everyone involved is taken into consideration
Who is Frank Darling and why you need to know this name?
That’s why I love companies like Frank Darling. They provide ethically and sustainably sourced, affordable diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, and bridal sets. However, while a lot of engagement ring and wedding ring purchases still occur in brick and mortar stores, Frank Darling’s process is more internet based.
Frank Darling is changing the game when it comes to engagement rings and has been, since its start in November 2017. While the engagement ring shopping process has been stressful and EXPENSIVE, sometimes for mysterious reasons, Frank Darling has produced a model that is transparent from start to finish. Despite the online shopping involved, they have made the business of ring buying very personal, and above all, accessible.
The bands are made of recycled metals. The diamonds themselves are acquired either via the strict rules of the Kimberley Process and therefore have a Kimberley Process Certificate. You may also opt to have a lab created diamond.
The commitment to such a sustainable model has earned Frank Darling the Butterfly Mark, from Positive Luxury, in recognition for their excellence in sustainability. They have also been featured in Vogue in April of this year (read the article here! —> Frank Darling in Vogue) in recognition of how they are revolutionizing the engagement ring shopping experience.
Is a lab created diamond a real diamond?
I know this is what you were thinking, and the answer is yes. They have the same chemical makeup and virtually the same chemical structure as a natural diamond. Most jewelers are unable to tell the difference between a natural diamond and a lab created diamond. If they are tested, they test as a diamond, just as a mined diamond would. However, they cost significantly less.
Read more about lab created diamonds here-->Lab created diamonds
How is Frank Darling different from most other jewelry stores?
After you choose a ring (actually, 4!), you receive these rings in the mail and you get to give them a test run.
Of course, the rings are not the real thing. They are replicas, made of silver and cubic zirconia but will give you a feel for what your final ring will look like.
There are 5 collections of settings, called Harper, Billie, Parker, Sydney and Mason. The Head Designer, Elise Coleman, used to design for Tiffany & Company! Each ring is offered in yellow gold, white gold, rose gold or platinum.
The Billie Collection
This group is a collection of eternity bands that may be simple in concept, but are exquisite in execution. There are channel cut styles as well as prong set multiple stone rings that have a chill vibe and are unpretentious. There are 6 rings in this collection, priced from $640 to $3800.
The Harper Collection
The 12 rings and 3 bands in this collection are a little more traditional, but have an understated elegance. You’ll find the classic diamond solitaire, as well as 3-stone rings and halo style rings. Two of the bands would be perfect to round out a bridal set. Prices for this collection start at $290 to $9990.
The Parker Collection
I would describe this collection as a great twist on classics. There are 8 rings and 2 band in this Art Deco inspired collection. The diamonds are emerald and Asscher cuts and some settings also come in a halo style. However, all except one of the halo styles in this collection are solid. Prices start at $290 to $1090.
The Mason Collection
5 rings and 3 bands make up this collection of rings. These are definitely not your run of the mill rings. These are unique engagement rings that are going to make a statement. There are triangle diamonds, open bands and spectacular marquise diamonds. This collection is modern, daring and not for the feint of heart—it’s for the bold woman who wants to be noticed. Ring prices start at $290 and go to $1090.
The Sydney Collection
And finally, this collection of rings 9 rings and 4 bands is the most romantic and feminine. There are pear shaped diamonds, either alone or in a 3 stone set with simple round cut diamonds. There is a caviar beaded band, and even a ring that has a central round cut diamond surrounded by smaller round cut diamonds to resemble a flower. The bands are as inexpensive as $290 with rings up to $1340.
*Note that prices quoted are starting point only; the final price will depend on your final choices in terms of diamond size, etc.
You are able to either shop by collection, or you can go through the ring finder function to enter the features of the ring that you would like, from the metal to the cut of diamond. You will be offered rings that satisfy your specifications and you can choose 4 rings from these results.
Review of the Frank Darling Ring Buying Process
Recently, I had the opportunity to try out this service myself and I will give you the play by play.
After I chose my preferred ring, I actually had to wait a few weeks. The replicas of the rings are made to order, so I had to wait about 2 weeks for the exact replicas to be made. But after a short waiting period, I received the Frank Darling box.
I received Harper No. 3 pave, The Halo Band from the Harper collection, Billie No. 2 and Billie No. 3, which all came in sterling silver. As mentioned before, in place of the diamonds are cubic zirconias.
I had 5 days allotted to preview the rings, so I wore them around, going about my day to day activities, pretending they were my ring to be. I saw how they would look with my t-shirt and jeans and my fancy dresses. Basically, to see what it would be like to have this as my “forever ring.”
Strangely enough, before the process, I was sure that I would love the Harper No. 3, pave, but after wearing it around for several days, it didn’t really seem like me. Personally, I think it was the halo part. I thought that I would love to have a halo ring, but after looking at it for a couple of days, the novelty wore off. I also discovered that what I thought was my ring size was a bit off--by about ½ size. I don’t know whether this is the case that some rings vary in size, similar to clothing, but I was sure I was one size, but it turned out I was incorrect.
I suppose that’s what this process is made for--just in case you change your mind about your ring, you’re not out several thousand (or tens of thousands) of dollars. And you also save any extra hassle in case you need to adjust your size.
What’s to love about Frank Darling?
The great prices. Recycled diamonds are less expensive (a LOT less expensive!), and lab created diamonds are even more budget friendly. The recycled metals further bring down the price, resulting in not only a more economical ring (more bang for your buck), but also a ring that you know is eco conscious.
I liked being able to give my ring a test run and to see it in real life. I’m not a big fan of surprises in general, so I would be happier knowing what I’m getting and knowing that it’s going to fit, even if I don’t know when I might ultimately get the ring.
Easy and convenient. I didn’t have to take a specific day to go out to the store, coordinate with store hours, etc. I could open the box and preview the rings at 2 am if I so chose.
I get several days to decide. I’m not making a decision on the fly, feeling pressured by a salesperson. I also won’t get surprised by a ring that I might not like. I’ve heard those stories of people who ended up hating their rings, and I would prefer to avoid that.
Easy to return. All I had to do what put the replicas back in the box and drop it off, postage paid, at the post office.
Lifetime resizing. Gain weight, lose weight, no worries. They’ll resize your ring at no extra charge.
Want an upgrade? Also no problem! As your life changes, you can always start small and get a bigger ring. If the bigger ring fits into the current setting, that’s an easy fix. If you also need to upgrade the setting, you receive a discount on the new setting.
If you want a slightly more traditional shopping experience, you can always go to the New York based store!
If you don’t find your ring in the first group, you can try another set of 4. There’s no limit to the number of at home kits you can try. So you can try out their more avant garde styles--you might end up loving one!
The replicas themselves are awesome. They are made with sterling silver and cubic zirconias, so you could totally wear it as a regular ring. You just pay a small fee and you get to keep the ring.
...Not so much?
It takes the surprise out of the process. If you love surprises, you probably won’t like this.
Nontraditional. If you’re a traditional type, who wants the gentleman to go buy the ring with only the hints you drop, or just by knowing your style, you probably won’t like this. You won’t get the same feeling of conventional shopping and finding the “perfect ring” in the case and just knowing it.
The rings are replicas. While I realize that it would just be a bad idea to let someone preview 4 real diamonds, you just don’t get the same sparkle and the same feeling as an authentic diamond. I am by no means suggesting that the CZs are bad, I’m just saying.
You don’t get to see all the rings. Again, if you like a more traditional shopping experience, you won’t get that here. You won’t look through cases of potential rings and wait for one to speak to you.
You’ve got 5 days to decide. You have to have a pretty good idea of what kind of ring you want before you request the 4 replicas in order to get the most out of this, I think. Otherwise, you might end up overwhelmed and without a good idea of what you want.
More about Kegan Fisher, the Co-Founder of Frank Darling
One of the awesome founders of Frank Darling, Kegan Fisher, was kind enough to answer a few extra questions for me.
1. Tell me a little about yourself and how Frank Darling was born.
My partner, Jeff and I started Frank Darling because of a less-than-great experience we had with buying fine jewelry. When we started looking, we just assumed we were going to be taken advantage of and overpay. We found that a lot of other people felt the same way and just postponed buying an engagement ring, or got an alternative of some sort.
With most couples shopping together now, the business of intimidating customers is just not going to work. We wanted to put the power back in the hands of the couple, and make the whole process more transparent, less intimidating, and much less expensive than traditional retailers. So, that’s where we started.
2. The Try at Home method of ring shopping is definitely a unique way of shopping for an engagement ring! What was your inspiration?
We care so much about the design of the jewelry itself, we thought that the best way to let people fall in love with the collection would be to just let them try it on. That’s how it started, but we also realized that the stores can be really intimidating. Everything is under glass and it’s really hard to imagine what you’d wear for the rest of your life with so many people around. The try at home approach is really a pressure-free shopping experience where couples can relax, have fun, and make a confident decision.
3. Do you miss seeing faces of the nervous groom-to-be or the couples when they find the perfect ring?
This question made me laugh because I would miss that so much. Luckily we meet with couples in NYC all the time to show them the collection and pick out diamonds. I didn’t expect it to be my favorite part of the job, but it’s what I look forward to the most. Our collection has some pieces that are really daring so everyone gets excited to see those. When they do find the one, they just know it, and being a part of that process is really rewarding. I’ve made so many new wonderful friends since we started that I feel like that part of the job is more satisfying than anything.
4. What if the couple likes the style of the ring in the replica but wants a bigger or smaller diamond? Do they have the option of changing the carat weight?
Absolutely. The home try-on kit is just the beginning. Once we find the setting design, couples can pick out a diamond on our site, or we can help find one. Because of our business model, we have access to over 100,000 natural and lab grown diamonds, so there’s really something for everybody. Once we have a stone picked out, we custom make each ring to fit the stone perfectly. We even offer design services for free so customization options are limitless.
5. What advice would you give to those shopping for a ring with Frank Darling?
A lot of times people are surprised to find out that the ring they love isn’t the one they thought they would. Everything looks different when it’s on your finger. There’s no limit to how many try at-home kits you can order, so, get outside your comfort zone and explore a little. That’s the fun part!
Would I recommend Frank Darling?
Yes! That’s just me, though. I appreciate the convenience of being able to have the rings delivered to my home for me to try on at my leisure. My schedule is not always compatible with normal store hours. Furthermore, I’m not that into surprises. I would actually like to know what I’m getting and to already know that it’s something that I will love. I don’t think it would detract from the experience of becoming engaged at all, because the point is the decision the couple makes to be committed to each other and come together as one. The ring is a symbol of that. So why not make the first gesture of your union the choice of your ring? Seems just as romantic to me, if not more so.
So, my single friends, make your engagement ring a green engagement ring. I highly suggest that you check them out! Go on over to frankdarling.com and find the diamond ring of your dreams.
To Contact Frank Darling
Call or text: (646) 859-0718
Questions for my readers:
Do you have a recycled or unconventional engagement or wedding ring?
If not, would you consider a lab created or a more sustainably sourced diamond?
I love hearing from you!
(1) Mason, M. What is Sustainability and Why is it Important? Retrieved from https://www.environmentalscience.org/sustainability