Tuesday, August 14, 2007

our alternative to diamonds

Miss Peony over at Weddingbee has a great post about different aspects of the 4Cs of diamond shopping- cut, clarity, carat and color.

Which got me thinking about my own engagement ring. I do not have a "traditional" engagement ring, in that it isn't a diamond solitaire, or even consisting only of diamonds. The concept of "the traditional diamond engagement ring" stems from a giant advertisement campaign by DeBeers in the 1930s. This Slate article does a good job of discussing the evolution of the engagement ring.

Conflict, violent and corporate sponsored tradition aside, I knew that a diamond engagement ring wasn't for me. When we first started looking at rings more than six months prior to getting engaged, we looked at a lot of different things. And trying on diamond rings just didn't feel like me. It was too sparkly, too bling-y, too girly, and not in a good way. And I am rough on my hands, so I knew that a traditional solitaire and setting wouldn't work for me.
(l to r: round solitaire with tiffany (prong) setting, princess solitaire with prong setting, both from Blue Nile)

So we started looking at stones, and, not surprisingly, I was drawn to red. I love the look of deep red stones.

(the Carmen Lucia Ruby from the Smithsonian)

In the process of looking at stones, we learned about a very cool gemstone that is a favorite among jewelers and is not well known by the public. It is rarer than diamonds are, and comes in nearly every color of the rainbow. May I present to you...

The Spinel

(image found here)

The thing that I really like about spinels is that they come in a deeper red color than rubies typically do, which tend to be more bright red/pink red. I love the color of garnets, but they are an incredibly soft stone that is not durably enough for everyday use in a ring. Spinels are an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale; sapphires and rubies are 9, and diamonds are 10. They are durable enough that synthetic versions are used to create the stones in class rings.

Once we figured out the type of stone, we had to find the right stone, and then figure out a setting.

What are your thoughts on a non-diamond engagement ring? Do you have an alternative engagement ring, or a completely different symbol of engagement?

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