Proposals are surrounded with so many traditions and myths it's sometimes hard to believe there are so many alternatives to classic diamond engagement ring. Believe it or not, the tradition of giving a diamond ring for engagement is less than one hundred years old. The famous slogan 'diamonds are forever', for instance was coined only in 1947.
Let's make it clear: a diamond is a beautiful stone for engagement ring. It's rare and precious like a true love, but it's actually not so very rare and precious as sellers would like to convince us. It just so happens the company De Beers, which controls the huge majority of the market, used all its powers to set high prices, high demand and inflate its profits as high as possible.
Even the powerful word forever in the slogan above was made to prevent selling engagement rings when for whatever reason fiancee doesn't need it anymore, what means every sold diamond leaves the market for good (or at least most of them) and buyers constantly ask for new ones, keeping the prices up.
There are many reasons to look for engagement rings without diamonds from financial to eco-friendly, but most important is to find out if the bride-to-be wants an alternative. While there is a simple logic to spend more than five thousand dollars (average price of engagement ring in USA) for deposit of the home of newlyweds instead for an expensive and practically useless item, many girls still prefer diamonds.
So before you decide for an alternative, make sure you really understand how she feels about diamond engagement rings. Statistics shows about one of four women will say no to a proposal if she doesn't like the ring ...
List Of Alternatives To Diamond Engagement Rings
Lab Created Diamond Rings
Synthetic or more correctly lab created diamonds are nice alternatives to real gems. Being produced by man, not mined in dangerous conditions, they are much more numerous and affordable than natural gems.
It is very important to know these are real diamonds by all physical and chemical properties. The main difference is the way they are made. At this moment three commercially used methods are known, all by some degree simulating the conditions in which natural diamond is growing (high temperature and high pressure above all) and a promising fourth method still in experimental phase.
If you want a diamond ring for engagement, but are not willing to pay the full price, this may be the solution, although so called cultured diamonds are not very cheap either. If we we mention De Beers Diamond Research Laboratory is one of the major players in the field of synthetic production of diamonds, the name will probably ring the bell. In average you can still save up to 30 percent with a lab created diamond.
It is very important to know these diamonds are not produced in questionable (from social and ecological point of view) conditions, what can be huge plus for some more socially conscious brides. But there are several downsizes of this solution too:
- Synthetic diamonds are never very big. While most of buyers doesn't intend to buy rings with stones bigger than two carats, this may still be a problem for others. Another problem is in variety of colors. Majority comes in yellowish tones, which are not among most popular ones.
- Owner will know the stone was not mined after growing for millions of years. It was made by hi tech equipment in only few days and this doesn't sound romantic at all. There is also a growing trend among manufacturers who are willing to mark every lab created stone with serial number (seen under special light), what this precious stone turns into ordinary product.
- It seems resale value of synthetic stones is near to zero. With no uniqueness and romantic allure attached to them, there is also a constant threat of developing new technologies which may knock down the prices in no time. Lab created diamonds can't be considered as an investment.
CZ (Cubic Zirconia) Engagement Rings
Cubic Zirconia is zirconium dioxide, material which crystallizes in form which highly resembles diamonds. It's very rare in nature, but can be easily synthesized with relatively inexpensive equipment. With clarity, color, cut and carats (famous four Cs) cubic zirconia comes very close to diamond and is the oldest and at the moment still the most popular alternative as a stone used for engagement rings.
Why are CZ rings good as substitute for diamond ones? They look almost the same. Even the experienced jeweler can't distinguish between both without a magnifying glass. They are available in different sizes and colors, just like real diamonds, yet for a friction of cost. Depending on procedure cubic zirconia engagement ring of the same size will cost between five and tent percent of the price of a ring with a natural diamond.
What about the downsides? Although harder than majority of semi precious minerals, CZ is significantly softer than diamond, what makes it less durable. It is also fragile. If it drops on the floor, it can break. It doesn't sparkle as the diamond, although with new, improved diamond-like coating, cubic zirconia made by Swarovski is already in the same category.
Being slightly more radiant CZ sometimes looks too artificial and it's probably needless to say it doesn't hold resell value.
Moissanite Engagement Rings
Moissanite is a rare mineral which is chemically silicon carbide. It's named after Henry Moissan, French Nobel Prize winner, who as first succeeded in isolated fluorine and was one of the pioneers of synthetic diamonds.
Moissanite is rare mineral in nature, but can be, just like zircon cubicle, produced in labs. It's more expensive than ZC, but still much cheaper than a diamond. Since 1998 it's used in jewelry and in recent years became serious contender to zircon cubicle in usage for engagement rings.
If we compare moissanite with diamond, we can say it's almost as hard (9.3 against 10 on Mohs scale), has even higher brilliance (2.65 against 2.42), and is less likely to attract dust and grease. Yes, it costs less too (from 5 to 15 percent of diamond's price).
There are actually only three major warnings the moissanite wearers can give.
- First: on very rare occasions (very intense daylight, for insance) the stone can shine with weird, mostly yellowish sparkles (again: happens very rarely).
- Second and the most important one: many people will presume it's real diamond, what can start comments on the costs and similar remarks which may or may not be welcomed.
- Third: most jewelers don't like to work with moissanite if the wearer by any chance needs the ring to be reworked.
Engagement Rings With Colored Stones
Although engagement rings have thousands of years of traditions, and different precious stones were part of them for centuries, diamonds became major center stones only years after Great Depression and already mentioned marketing actions by De Beers. Other gems were all kinds of colorful stones and many of them can suit the taste of a fiancee even better than a diamond.
Sapphire, emerald, amethyst, ruby and topaz are among most popular choices. Colored stone is very popular alternative to classic diamond for gals who want to express their unique style. They are important part of royal history and current trends among celebrities. Before anybody jumps into buying, there are few things to be considered first.
Number one is durability. Not every gemstone is durable as a diamond. A ring can be exposed to pretty heavy duty conditions and nobody wants to wear a scratched stone. This is the main reason opals are not suitable for engagement rings. They are just too soft. Another decision to make is style and setting. The gemstone will probably dominate the ring, but will it be alone or surrounded by other stones? Shall we enhance its beauty with a halo of small diamonds around the center stone? And finally what kind of material of the band will suit the chosen setting?
Gemstones can match favorite colors or birth signs or can have a specific color matching the fiancee's eyes or carry strong symbolic message to the loving couple or... By the way, most of the colored gemstones can be synthesized just like diamonds. Exceptionality of the stone and overall execution of the design is the main factor at final price when colored stone engagement rings are in question.
Ring Settings Without Stones
Engagement rings without stones?
Yes, and engagement ring doesn't need to have an expensive stone to express uniqueness of one's love. Ring settings without stones are quite popular for many reasons and price tag is on the top of them. If a thought of plain band crossed your mind, that's all right. But think again. Rings are made of metal and metal can be crafted in so many ways ...
They can be twisted, braided and knotted in unique designs, with tiny details, mysterious symbols and original patterns, with meaningful engravings and thoughtful inscriptions, made of gold, silver, platinum, paladium, tungsten, stainless steel and countless combinations of luxurious (platinum and white gold are the most popular metals in recent years) or much more ordinary metals, in contemporary and vintage styles - it really doesn't matter, the decision is yours.
Our mission was only to provide the basic groups of diamond ring engagement alternatives. Did we succeed?