Before getting engaged my fiancé and I decided to shop for a ring together. I knew I didn't want a diamond for ethical reasons, but other than that I had much to learn about them. Diamonds are the most common gem, although quality varies greatly. Diamonds are not an investment (ever heard of buying or selling a used one?). Basically, diamonds suck, and we are led to believe otherwise because of impressive 20th century marketing.
So why waste an opportunity sticking it to the man! We not only decided to pick a ring together, but to also buy an alternative stone.
For us, a tiny ring is not worth a new car…or going into debt. I don’t need a grand financial gesture to feel love. But I did want a ring… so I’m not against all wedding traditions. I want to get something I like, and avoid needless upgrades every few years.
My fiancée and I went to a jewelers together after weeks of online shopping and research. They were generally helpful but were pushy to know our price point and discuss financing options. My fiancé ended up asking her opinion of “synthetic alternatives.” Cue the helpful advice that turned into a lecture. They were even against lab-grown diamonds, which they called “not a real diamond” despite being chemically and structurally identical.
Here’s some comments I heard or read while looking to get my ring:
“If you want to show your love is real get a real stone.”
- (No comment)
“If your synthetic stone cracks it can’t be fixed.”
- My moissanite stone came with a warranty and is about 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Moissanite and Diamond have near identical brittleness.
“People always talk about the ethical issues with diamonds but never talk about the environmental costs of synthetics due to all the heat it takes to produce them.”
- Oh, did you also want to discuss environmental destruction to dig for diamonds or the pollution from shipping them halfway around the world to get to me?
“CZ used to be all the rage and now the price has plummented. The same thing will happen with moissanite”
- That’s how an economy should work. Unlike how diamonds are artificially propped up in value due to the DeBeers monopoly.
- With the size stone I wanted, my entire ring cost less than a diamond would lose in value the second I bought it.
- Jewelry is not an investment, it is an expense.
“Buy a small diamond you can afford and upgrade on special anniversaries.”
- How about no. How about I buy the size I want NOW and never upgrade. Also important to note the value diamonds depreciate here too… Upgrading several times over your life will be a sure way for you to lose money and the jewelers to gain
Now about the tradition of the man picking out the engagement ring and spending three months salary:
It’s rather insulting that something as pricey as an engagement ring I’m just expected to “like” and wear every day without any complaints. If I’m going to wear something every day it will be something I like. If we are about to enter a lifelong relationship, I would like all major financial decisions to be discussed with each other ahead of time and not be a suprise! Some might think that's not romantic, but I disagree. Instead of one person unilaterally making this decision, we wanted to do it as a team.
From the jewelers perspective this is great business. Sell the man a token of love. Pressure him to go into debt, make interest off the debt. Don’t let him check with his fiancée to ensure she likes the style or that it will fit her. Doesn’t fit? No worries! It can be resized, for a fee of course! She doesn’t like the style? No worries! You can buy another at your anniversary. In fact, you should do that every few anniversaries as your paychecks increase. Anything less and you’re a bad partner. And while you’re here picking out a ring and utterly confused about all things jewelry let me remind you that you should spend 3 months salary on this because anything less and she’ll be disappointed, you need to show her you really love her! (did we mention we offer financing?)
So what is Mossianite?
It’s an extremely rare, naturally occurring stone, typically found in meteors. While diamond is pure carbon, Moissanite is silicone carbide (SiC). It is too rare and small when found naturally, so it is typically synthesized and can be very large. It is crystal clear, looking much clearer than many of the diamonds I looked at with a better “brilliance refractive index”. It also has more “fire dispersion” than diamonds. It reflects light in a prettier way (in my opinion). It really is superior in looks and price. It’s harder than sapphires and rubies with diamonds being the only thing harder, so it’s great in terms of durability as well (9.25 on Moh’s scale). The total cost of the ring is cheap enough that we decided not to insure it.
If pricing was identical, I'd still want my Moissanite. It just looks too good!
Another popular diamond-like alternative I looked at was white sapphire. It seemed milkier and didn't sparkle quite as much so I wasn’t a fan. Although from what I saw the two are generally comparable in price and close in durability.