Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend?

No, I'm not engaged or anywhere NEAR engaged, but I'm a girl, and occasionally I think about these kinds of things.

Once upon a time, I had decided that if I ever were to get engaged, I wanted a princess cut diamond from Tiffany's with a platinum band.

Looking back, I can't really believe that that was actually what I wanted. I mean, clearly it's what I wanted because it's what *everyone* wanted. But the truth is, that's not really me. Even if I didn't care about the cost, or the environmental factors, princess cut Tiffany's? Can you imagine that being ME? Okay, you may not know me very well, but trust me. It's not me.

Now, the non-consumer in me has a preference towards second-hand, err, I mean antique, rings. I'd guess an antique diamond would be insanely expensive, but there are other cool stones out there. If I ever wind up getting married, that would probably be what I would lean towards. I'm not particularly set on a diamond anyway.

But if you like the diamond look, what do you do? My friends were having this discussion, and I think people generally agreed that antique diamonds were great if they were affordable. A lot of my friends have diamonds that have been passed on from generation to generation so that's an EXTREMELY affordable option! And it's more meaningful to be wearing your grandmother's ring, I think. (Unless your grandmother had a horrible marriage, in which case I'm not sure if it is better, you know, symbolically.)

The other options are, of course, conflict-free diamonds and synthetic diamonds. Conflict-free diamonds, are again, probably expensive. Synthetic diamonds have the advantage of being cheaper, and as one of my incredibly wise friends pointed out, it reduces the general demand for natural diamonds which is probably a good thing. It's funny to think that natural is bad, and artificial is good, but diamonds are probably one of the few things where artificial really is the more environmental option by far.

Of course, there is a bit of me that is sternly chastising the rest of me (what can I say, it's hard being me.) Because, the truth is, engagement rings can hardly be classified as a need. Presumably, you're going to be getting a wedding ring soon enough, so the real non-consumer answer is probably to just forgo the engagement ring entirely. BUT, the tiny mushy romantic in me is hard pressed to give up entirely on engagement rings. I know it's unnecessary, but I freaking LOVE seeing my newly engaged friends' rings, and I love seeing them beam as they proudly extend their hands. I'm eco, but I'm not a grinch.

So for you married peeps, what kind of engagement ring did you get? Would you get a different one if you were making the decision today? Did any of you get your husbands engagement rings? And for you single folks, if you ever decide to tie the knot, do you have any thoughts as to what kind of ring you'll get?


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I have a Canadian diamond - and I don't just mean my husband! It apparently has a teeny tiny polar bear etched on it somewhere as a mark of authenticity. I have a certificate too.

My only stipulations when we started looking were: White gold band, Canadian diamond. (I try not to think about where the gold came from). I think the diamond was slightly more expensive than the equivalent size from other countries, but I didn't want a big rock anyway. I ended up finding a really cool design - I'll try and get a decent picture of it some time, the diamond is flush with the level of the band so I can wear it without the diamond ripping through latex gloves. It's not your average solitaire!

ruchi said...

Ooooh, that sounds cool!! That's so neat that there is a teeny polar bear etched on it. Man, now I'm going to want to see pictures of everyone's diamonds!! Definitely post a picture when you have a chance.

Anonymous said...

OK, so, my wife and I eloped, and bought our rings (required even in a civil ceremony, unbeknownst to me) half an hour before getting married, for approximately 15 dollars each. We thought that at some point soon we would get "official" ones, but, 13 years later, we are both still wearing those.

Now, a year and a half later we had a "formal" wedding, and on that occasion my mom gave one of her two oldest rings to my wife, the other to my sister-in-law. I thought it was really a gracious thing to do, and to be honest it is the only way jewelry makes any sense to me -- then again, I am a man.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'll do the whole engagement ring thing, especially since we're unlikely to be officially "engaged" for very long (my boyfriend and I are in that nebulous "living together and will presumably get married at some point" state, so being "engaged" seems odd at this stage). I saw somewhere, and now I unfortunately can't remember where, a blog about a couple who had gotten wooden wedding rings. When they eventually broke (they're apparently longer lasting than you'd think, but still, well, wood) they were planning to get new ones and renew their vows. This struck me as the most awesome thing I'd seen in quite a while, and I still really like the idea. I like wood much better than metal in general.

just Gai said...

We were both students when we got engaged and money was very short. So it was the choice between an inter-rail trip round Europe or an engagement ring. Easy. The holiday won hands down!

Even though we are now considerably better off I would still rather spend any spare cash on travel than a strip of metal and a few stones(!).

I have a wedding ring. It cost £20 (in 1984).

Anonymous said...

I don't actually like wearing rings, so we forewent both engagement and wedding rings. What I have is a wedding bracelet *laughs*. About 2 months before the wedding, we were at the local farmer's market, and I found this gorgeous silver band bracelet, brushed silver on the outside, and on the inside it said "Good Witch". I fell in love with it, so my husband decided that should be the symbol of our commitment. We had a custom one made with our names and wedding date on the inside. It's perfect for us, and I'm happy that we came up with something that is special for us and not just what everyone does.

Anonymous said...

If I could travel back in time I def. would not have gone the traditional diamond route. My husband gave me a diamond pendent because I used to do a lot of pottery and sculpting and didn't want to have to take a ring on and off all the time for fear of losing it. I also have a band of platinum & diamonds for a wedding band...which I love but I have no idea where the diamonds came from. The pieces themselves were designed and made by a local jeweler...which I like.

If I had to go back I think I would have gone same designs but completely different stones. Like blue or green tourmaline.

Anonymous said...

I only have a wedding ring, which is made of recycled gold mixed with palladium. We also paid to offset the carbon emissions from making the rings.

Mostly we didn't buy an engagement ring because we didn't want to go in debt for a ring. Someday, when we are out of debt, we will probably buy an engagement ring. I've had my eye on a canary yellow grown diamond, in a recycled white gold band.

Here is where we got our bands. We love them!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting married on 1/2/09 and do not have an engagement ring. That decision came about because engagement rings are not a tradition in either of our families, and thought I LOVE them, it felt like we were being forced into getting one by mass culture. Also, I don't really feel "engaged" as we have lived together for two years and have a cat together. I feel more like I am "getting married."

We each got vintage rings for our wedding rings - mine is platinum has seven diamonds totaling .25 ct, his is a white gold band. I'm buying a vintage necklace to wear for the wedding.

Vintage/antique diamond jewelry is not much more expensive than new diamond jewelry. Doyle and Doyle is an NYC store that has a great selection online- that is where we went. While they have tons of super expensive rings, there are plenty in the under $5k range.

Examples: ( ( (

Meg said...

I had something very specific in mind: I wanted an amethyst heart on a two-tone gold band, with little hearts and/or diamonds on the sides. Wouldn't you know, we stumbled across just that ring -- on sale -- at a department store. I think it was $70. My now husband bought it and kept it for just the right moment.

On our five year anniversary, he gave me another ring almost exactly the same, but a little nicer and all white gold like our wedding rings.

I don't wear either ring everyday like my wedding band, but I love them both and do still wear them.

Joyce said...

We were going to bypass the engagement ring in favor of paying off my husband's college loans, but my future mother-in-law would have none of it, and if you knew her, you'd know why we knuckled under. For years (we've been married 31 years) I thought I didn't care much about that ring because it was forced on us. Then about 2 years ago I lost the stone in the backyard while gardening. I'll have to admit, it makes me sad. I find myself looking for it when ever I'm out there, convinced I'll see a little diamond flash in the sun sometime, but so far, nothing. It hasn't crossed my husband's mind to replace it, for the same reason I thought I wouldn't care if I lost it. And I'm too proud to mention that I wish I had one again. So, now you know my sad little story.

I will say, get the ring you love. If you don't love diamonds, get something else if you want. It's the meaning that matters. For me it came to symbolize the longevity of our marriage, somehow.

knutty knitter said...

Engagement ring - cheap but cute diamond and sapphire band. Wedding rings...Dh gold faceted band, mine is great grandmas.

We don't wear any of them though because rings fall off my fingers as I have no knuckle bit to hold them on and hubby kept forgetting.

We've been married almost 14 years and I think we should have done a better holiday instead as neither of us are sentimental about the rings much.

That said - I like the bracelet/necklace idea.

viv in nz

Unknown said...

I think about this a lot because I am definitely ready to be married/civil unioned/legally unioned to my boyfriend of 2.5 years (I used these assortment of terms because I live in CA and I would currently hesitate to get "married" even though as a heterosexual couple we can because the 52% of the voters just took that right away from a group of people). Okay, but back to the topic at hand.

I don't have a strong preference on having an engagement ring, but if i did have one I would want something simple and conflict free like this from Brilliant Earth: It's all relative, but as far as "expensive" goes, it's not as bad as many of the rings I've seen on people, but definitely more expensive than many of the prices people have posted here! If I don't have an engagement ring, I would like a ring like that for my wedding ring. If we don't ever get married (sad face) I would like a ring like that (and a some simple ring for him) just as a symbol of our commitment to each other, worn on any finger of our choosing. If I got a ring like that as an engagement ring, I would want something super simple (just a band) as a wedding ring, like this:

A girl can dream. At this point I'll be happy if (a) Prop 8 gets over turned and (b) my boyfriend comes around on the idea of marriage soonishly (2 years? I dunno, I'm flexible...)

EJ said...

No engagement ring, grandmothers wedding ring now worn by son. In a finite world the costs ($, environmental, human) of diamonds make them easy to live without.

What does the diamond mining look like in Northern Canada? Any polar bears around - not counting engraved ones?

Living in an area where tourmaline mining is possible I can say there wouldn't be much local support for any type of mining- esp. for frivolous gem stones.

Donna said...

I've always been a one-ring sort of person. I won't wear more than one ring at a time no matter how many hands I have. :) I also have never liked the double band style wedding rings that are so popular. When my husband and I got engaged, we found a design we liked and had a family friend jeweler create the ring. I wore it as an engagement ring, gave it back the day before my wedding, and have worn it as a wedding ring ever since. It's been 12 years now and I still love it. Joyce is right -- get the ring you love.

Green Bean said...

Mine is an antique ring with the original (antique) diamond. It is beautiful, unique, meaningful and it WAS CHEAP. Well, relatively speaking. It cost about $1,100 and was much much less than any of the other new rings we looked at. We purchased it from a reputable antiques store but not one that sold simply estate jewelery which may explain why it cost less. My wedding band was my grandmothers, passed down to my mother and now mine.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just want to know why you are bringing up this topic, Ruchi. Do you suddenly have a bunch of friends getting married? Or is there something else you're not telling us?

Michael and I both have single wedding bands. No engagement ring. Like someone else said, we had been together for 4 years, lived together for one of them, and so there wasn't really any getting engaged.

I do have some tiny diamonds on my band, and if I had it to do over, I probably would have opted for a jewel-free band instead. Our Irish friends have a couple of gorgeous engraved bands that are totally unique. But I'll admit, I got sucked into the idea that I needed some kind of diamond, even if it was just something tiny on my wedding band. I have no idea where the diamonds came from, and at that time, it didn't occur to me to ask or care.

So, we live and learn.

Anonymous said...

My engagement ring is a 8-month long trip to South America. I am wearing it in my memory, so I can still experience it now that I am much more home bound with young kids :)

The whole idea of "Diamond is forever" is such a genius marketing ploy that so many people get sucked in it. 2 months of salary? 4?

Blood diamond is a good movie to watch in this regard.

Burbanmom said...

Hubby and I got engaged over 10 years ago - long before I went eco-friendly. And so, I had no knowledge of the environmental and social impacts of diamonds at the time.

I picked out a very unusual ring with a wide, zig-zag shaped band because I have sausage fingers and the little bands with big rocks looked like giant tourniquet.

Even then, though, I would have much preferred a family ring, but both my mom was long since divorced and my nana was still alive at the time and still wearing hers. :-)

Honestly, if I had to do it over again, the only thing I'd change is that I might let hubby have picked the ring.

No, actually I wouldn't. But I would consider synthetic.

Eliane said...

No rings. And no engagement. I was already pregnant with no. 2 daughter at the time so getting engaged seemed a bit "stable door, horse bolted" really. And I'm not good at rings or jewelry in general. Or ceremony so no fancy clothes, no cake, no presents just a registry office do and a very good lunch. You can ask what's the point, but then being married to me isn't about the romance/love/commitment which I already had, and still have, unchanged by legal status. As my mother said at the time, it was about tying up legal/financial loose ends. Not that I don't enjoy a good wedding, so long as it's someone-elses!

ScienceMama said...

Great grandmothers diamond, Husband designed the band himself. I LOVE it. It's has meaning for us. It has waves engraved on it and a wave filigree because we met in Santa Cruz. I will pass it on to my grandchild.

We didn't get a second "wedding ring". I just took off my engagement ring the morning of the wedding and we used it in the ceremony. I didn't need a second ring.

Farmer's Daughter said...

There's a lot of blood shed over diamonds. After I heard about the politics, I really don't think I'd buy any more diamonds. I only have one: my engagement ring which is a round diamond in a platinum setting. My wedding band is a plain platinum band. My husband doesn't wear his band (white gold) because he works with his hands, which we knew going into it so we got a cheap on just for the ceremony and special occasions. But I can't remember the last time he wore it.

In terms of antique rings, I think it's the most meaningful when it comes from a family member. I know people who have their grandmother's rings, and that's so special. I hope to be able to pass mine on to a family member someday. I have my great-grandmother's aquamarine ring (my birthstone), but I wouldn't use it as a wedding ring because it's HUGE! I still wear it on special occasions.

Katy said...

Okay, I've never been married, but when I was engaged I had a dimond ring I was young and stupid. I gave it back to the guy when we broke up and I think his wife has it now.

So if I were to get engaged again I think I could go without the diamond. I have been there, done that it didn't work out. Still, like you a musshy romantic part of me wants a ring of some kind. Preferable something really unique the boy found just for me.

But, funny story. When my sister got engaged she got a diamond. My daughter, 4 at the time, asked her why she had to have a ring.
My sister said, "So that other boys know that I'm getting married and they can't ask me out anymore."
To which my daughter replied, "Why can't you just tell them 'no'."

So yeah, spoken from the mouths of babes. We don't really need engagement rings. Its just one of those things we have been brain washed to want. Still, its hard to not want one.

Jennifer said...

When we got engaged, we did a lot of research. I REALLY wanted an antique, but we couldn't afford it. Second, I tried to find a conflict free diamond... but they wouldn't sell me one that was smaller than 1/2 carat! That's a HUGE diaomond to me.. I wanted something in the 1/8 to 1/4 size maximum for looks as well as money.

We finally found a jeweler who hand-made our ring using a used diamond he had in stock. We discovered most SAMLL and independent jewelers have quite the supply of diamonds they have picked up cheap and reused the gold and diamonds on.

I love my ring... it is small, and DH and I both picked out the design. DH also loves his ring, which was also handpicked and handmade by a local artist (but has no diamond as he wanted a different style).

Looking back, we were very young. We sure wouldn't spent $1700 on two rings like we did 8 years ago now... and I don't know if I would get a diamond again. But I don't have any regrets about what we did when we were young.

Jamie D. said...

Hubby and I got engaged long before I even thought about eco-friendly or conflict free issues. When we got engaged, I mostly wanted a ring to convince my family that it was really happening, since we'd been dating forever and they didn't have much hope we'd ever get married (we never lived together beforehand).

I knew hubby had been engaged once years before that, and still had the diamond from that ring. I told him he was welcome to just have it reset into something silver-colored if he wanted. So that's what he did (he went with white gold), and it's a very simple setting with a small round diamond - perfect for my personality, and it didn't cost all that much. So I guess you could say that my diamond is "recycled".

His ring is just a simple white gold band with a nice ridge on each edge - no stones, and he only wears it when we go to weddings (doesn't like jewelry). My wedding band is just a very thin, rounded white gold band that I wear behind my engagement ring, no jewelry or adornments of any kind (I told him I didn't need a wedding band, and we could just use the engagement ring, but he got the band anyways). My engagement ring is a very sturdy tension setting, so I wear both all the time, never take them off.

Anonymous said...

I got Maggie an engagement bike (and got one for myself as well). She's actually out riding it now, so I'm pleased with how it turned out.

For our wedding rings, we got silver/wood bands through Etsy. Neither of us really wore rings before, so having any kind of ring was special.

I like these because I don't have to worry about a stone, so it's okay if I play with the ring and spin it around. Nobody will be able to tell!

EcoBurban said...

I'm hard on jewelry, really I am terrible. I have been known to paint, hammer, dig, stain, move rocks, plant trees etc., all while wearing whatever I have on at the moment. My husband was insistent that he buy me both an engagement ring and wedding band. He's VERY traditional in this sort of way. I was fine without an engagement ring (I really just wanted a new kitchen put into our old house) but he was adamant.

My stipulations were that the rings had to be durable and simple. I don't like lots of glitzy junk. So, I have a plain platinum ring with a single solitare stone held in with 4 extra sturdy prongs and a slim platinum wedding band with teeny, tiny diamonds embedded deep down into the metal.

However, it's worth noting that when we worked with our local jeweler he said that many diamonds you buy from a reputable jeweler are actually not new. They are often older stones that have been bought and resold and then resold again and again. Many good jewelers will search out better stones from dealers that buy them from estate sales or privately and then recut or polish the stone. You might want to visit a non-chain, local jeweler with a good reputation and ask about their stones - when you are ready of course! I'm not 100%, but my husband was fairly certain my stone was not new. The traditional solitaire (round) cut has been so popular for so many years that you can often find better quality stones by going the used route.

Natalie said...

Althought I was plenty frugal and green enough back then, it never occured to me that there were options when it came to wedding jewelry. Maybe if I could have a do-over I would expand my search.

I really wasn't all that interested in the trappings of a traditional wedding (including diamonds), but it was important to Chris. For him, buying a sparkly ring was part of the experience, a rite of passage I guess. So I picked a classic, simple setting style and let him do the buying. He, of course, picked a diamond a bit larger than I would have. It's not huge, but I always felt conspicuous about it.

I wore the ring religiously the year of our engagement. I think I wore it quite a bit the first year of our marriage. After that, I put it away for several years, opting to wear just my very thin, plain, platinum wedding band. Then about two years ago I put the engagement ring on and the symbolism and sentimental value just blossomed in my heart. In an instant. And I have not taken it off since.

It's not the ring I would have picked for myself in strict terms. But I love this ring so much now.

sunflowerchilde said...

This is a topic that I find very irritating, especially because of the sexist implications of engagement rings (why do only women wear one?) and also the way women have been manipulated by the diamond cartel. When I was little, I wanted a diamond ring as well, and a storybook wedding.

By the time I got married, thankfully, I completely changed my mind. My husband and I picked out silver wedding bands from a street vendor, and they were having a special - two rings for $23. We both think they're even more special because of their sentimental rather than monetary value.

A friend of mine didn't want an engagement ring, but her husband wanted to get the biggest diamond he could find - they compromised with a North American pale blue sapphire. He was happy b/c he could afford a huge stone, she was happy that it wasn't a diamond, and it's really beautiful.

Quick note to Sherri - I live in California, and unless you are a same-sex couple or of retirement age, you can't get a civil union - marriage is your only option. But I agree - Prop 8 sucks!

Anonymous said...

I'm in a domestic partnership, which is only recognized by the city we live in. We did it after our son was born, so I could get on my partner's health insurance when I was a SAHM.

No rings, then, and I'm glad - because it turns out my mom gave me:

1) her engagement ring
2) her wedding ring from my dad (she's remarried)
3) her mother's wedding ring
4) another wedding ring - maybe her grandmothers?

The thing about "diamonds are forever" is that there are a *lot* of them floating around.

The little polar bear diamonds may not be environmentally better, but they're not funding any wars except the ones in Iraq & Afghanistan that Americans, Brits & Aussies are already funding.

ruchi said...

Wow! People have lots of cool engagement ring/engagement non-ring stories!

Okham, I think jewelry that is passed down is *much* more special than jewelry you buy at a shop.

LimeSarah, wood rings sound super cool! I'll have to take a look.

just Gai, I think I'd rather have the trip as well. :)I love traveling.

Maritizia, oooh that sound so cool!

Organic needle, yeah it's funny how we all kinda assume we need to get diamonds. I remember when I realized I didn't need to get a diamond, I was like ... wow! So many options!!

Melinda, that sounds cool! I didn't know you could buy recycled gold. Good to know.

Dasha, oh man, your ring sounds AMAZING. Now I want to see pictures of everyone's rings!!

Meg, wow that's awesome! $70 is great!!

Joyce, aw, that makes me sad too. I'm so sorry you lost that stone.

Viv, yeah I have to say, an engagement holiday sounds like a pretty awesome idea.

Sherri, heh, I know there are so many options! And yeah, I'm really hoping Prop 8 gets overturned as well.

EJ, yeah this is why I would tend to favor synthetic or antique over even conflict-free, but ultimately I think people have to make their own choices about this, and conflict-free is obviously superior to blood diamonds!

ruchi said...

Donna, actually I think that if I do ever get engaged, and if I do ever get an engagement ring (that's a lot of strenuous ifs) I'd just use my engagement ring as my wedding ring instead of wearing two rings. :)That's what my friend Honda did, and I think it was a good move.

GB, you know I actually noticed your ring when we went to get pancakes and, girl, it is GORGEOUS!

Beth, heh, I'm 29, so I have a lot of friends who are maybe getting engaged in the next year or so. So the conversation comes up more frequently than one would think. :) But no, I'm not planning on getting engaged anytime soon. This a totally abstract question. I swear.

Cindy, well that sounds like a super-awesome "ring!!" I'd definitely like a "ring" like that!

Burbs, yeah synthetic isn't something that sounded that good to me a while ago, but the more I think about it, the more I'm coming around to it.

ruchi said...

Eliane, well really, a good lunch equals a GOOD wedding in my book!!

Sciencemama, you have a beautiful ring! :)

Abbie, yeah I think passing on jewelry is such a lovely family tradition. And I really want to see pics of the aquamarine ring!!

Katy, I know what you mean. I am of two minds about the whole engagement thing, but the schmoopy side of me often seems to win out.

Jennifer, right. I think we change over time. If I had gotten married at 23, I would certainly have made different choices. And if and when I get married, I'll probably make different choices from the ones I espouse now. It's all good. :)

Jamie, I love it. I think your diamond definitely counts as recycled seeing as your husband already had it! :)

Will, silver and wood? That sounds really really cool. I want to see pictures! :)

EBM, that's really really interesting. Good to know. Thanks for the info.

Natalie, that's a sweet story.

Sunflowerchilde, well, to be fair, I know a couple guys that got engagement rings as well. So I think engagement rings can be whatever you want them to be.

Rosa, wow! Those are a lot of rings! But that's great that you have those family heirlooms. That's really special.

Anonymous said...

I seem to be a bit backwards compared to most. I have a gold band with a small inset diamond that my fiance gave me when he proposed on our 6th anniversary. The ring was made for us by his godfather, who has a small business doing that kind of thing for a living. I will be using my great grandmother's wedding ring when we get married, but for daily use I'll just end up wearing my engagement ring on its own like a wedding band.


Anonymous said...

You know, if you ever change your mind on that tiffany-style ring, or you just decide you want something diamond-like, moissanite isn't a bad substitute. That's what's in my ring, and it's beautiful (and much cheaper than a diamond).

We tried the vintage ring route, and we couldn't find anything in my size that was actually within our price range (we're both grad students), but we definitely would have gone that route if the option was there...

Unknown said...

I didn't mean it in a legal sense. I just threw all the terms in because I find it so blatantly ridiculous and also upsetting what is going on in this state (and others). I'd personally have a hard time telling any of our friends (gay or straight) right now that we were getting married.

At least it looks like the courts will be taking it up in March and maybe a decision by this summer (they are fast-tracking it)...

And to add to the conversation about engagement rings for men, I really liked an idea that one my friends told me about. In some European countries, the proposer presents both weddings rings to the proposee, so there is no engagement ring for anyone. If I had any belief that my boyfriend would actually say yes, I would do this in a heartbeat.

TDP said...

Pawn shops have lots of really good jewelry for cheap.

Some people forego the ring and instead get tatoos around their ring fingers (or other places on their body.) I do not have tatoos but I find that idea intriguing and might consider doing it if I were to be proposed to in the future - on the ring finger, but no where else!

If I were to have an engagement ring it would have to also serve as a wedding ring, and would be just a thin polished silver or surgical steel band. Gem stones are beautiful and I enjoy seeing them on other people. They're just not me. I do like pearls though, and have one nice cultured pearl ring that I wear more than occasionally.

Anonymous said...

Our rings look much like this one (by the same people who made ours).

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

EJ, the mines are on land, the polar bears on the coast and sea-ice... and the population density up by the mines is negligible. I've flown over the area on the usual Vancouver-London route and seen the mines, and believe me when I say it's a desolate piece of land with almost no-one up there. Not to say that there isn't an environmental impact because obviously there is. But at least there's no conflict involved. And the money stays within the country, helping to shield Canada from some of the worst effects of the financial crisis.

And diamonds in a ring are indeed frivolous, but there are other uses for diamonds too - cutting blades, medical instruments etc. I think it's better to get those stones from a conflict-free zone.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I got married two months ago, and I'm wearing my grandmother's 22K plain gold band that I inherited, and he is wearing the wedding band that he had from his first marriage. All we paid was $30 to the jeweller to polish the rings, and resize mine slightly. Luckily both wedding bands look almost identical - just a slightly different shade of gold.
I've always objected to the sexism implied in wearing a diamond engagement ring, and have never had one or wanted one.
My sister has a very cool filigreed platinum and diamond band that she had custom designed that she wears as both engagement ring and wedding band combined. It was made by a small independent jeweller in Los Angeles, but I don't know much more about it.

Jenn said...

Look, let's get down to it - a lot of times, the ring just signifies "I'm a keeper" or "Someone wants me enough to buy me this ring."

I'm not a keeper. Nobody wants me enough to even consider discussing living in the same duplex with me.

So, I buy my own damned jewelry. I love estate jewelry - I would never consider buying anything new. I have two 1920s engagement rings - both aquamarines.

One was a gift about 9 years ago from a boyfriend who didn't want to live with me - a 2.5 ct emerald cut aqua of unusual depth of color with two diamond baguettes set in platinum (now tripled in value thanks to the Iraq War!).

I recently bought a huge 1920s white gold set aqua for $450 which my favorite estate jeweler estimated at 3x the purchase price (and yes, I'm getting that all insured).

Friends look at me and say "I would NEVER wear a ring that is worth $3600 around" but I figure it's safer on my hand than in my house when people are ripping out catalytic converters for the relatively minuscule amounts of platinum and palladium they contain. :)

I wear my aqua/diamond ring everywhere - except mushroom hunting (too much mud) and take it off when I wash dishes (soap fogs it). The other aqua is much chunkier (it's about same carat weight but 3x as big emerald cut) and it makes good pinky bling. :)

Anonymous said...

We used my mother's diamond from her 40-year-old ring (she passed away some years ago) and had it reset.

For the wedding rings, we're using the Green Karat gold recycling program - sending in some gold jewelry, getting a credit and then buying recycled bands.

The reality of diamonds isn't romantic.

Red Fish said...

My now-husband and I shopped around for several weeks at multiple jewelers. Nothing seemed right until we stopped by an antique shop to look at cameos (I love them). At this antique shop, I fell in love with a small diamond cocktail ring from the 1920s. It is beautiful, unique, and environmentally friendly for only $500 (not cheap, but not overly expensive). I definitely suggest it for people who don't particularly want a giant rock on their hand!

ruchi said...

KT, that sounds beautiful!

Liz, thanks for the heads up. I'll look into it ... ya know, in 10 years or so when it comes up. ;)

Sherri, that's a cool custom!

Young Snowbird, yeah I know a few people who have simple bands and they are really really lovely.

Will, those are GORGEOUS!

Cath, absolutely. Sure, diamonds may be technically frivolous, but they are also extremely meaningful for a lot of people. And you are right, buying a Canadian diamond would definitely bolster your local economy which is never a bad thing....

Dorothy, hey congrats on getting married!!

Jenn, I buy my own jewelry too. :)

Luna, recycled gold program? That's really cool!

Red Fish, that sounds AWESOME! 1920s cocktail ring?! Super cool!!

Megan said...

I don't think an engagement ring even crossed my mind until people started asking me about it. I don't wear a lot of jewellery (I fidget SOOO much with my wedding ring!) so an engagement ring would look and feel awkward on me. Plus, I could never justify the cost. There are lots better things I'd like to do with the money!

As for the wedding ring, it's hand-hammered sterling silver from an artist in Sante Fe we found on etsy. We wanted something handmade, and I didn't see the point in getting white gold to look like silver when I could get actual silver. I don't know where the silver came from (grrr), but I couldn't find recycled silver listings anywhere. They cost $90.

Anonymous said...

I have a gorgeous antique wedding ring - 1930s, we think. I was adamant about a "recycled" ring, and I'm sure it cost a lot more but can't have been astronomical because I know what he earns!

We're trying to find platinum antique wedding bands from the same guy but they are hard to find apparently.


Chile said...

Personally, I hate diamonds so I was a cheap fiancee. We got matching gold wedding rings.

Anonymous said...

The ring I am going to get will be made with tiny conflict-free diamonds and 18K rose gold (I look horrible in white metals) made by a local jewelry maker (forgot the exact name of the title!). I thought about something antique, but it’s not really my style. I would have gone for something with 24K gold, but its not something you can wear daily (too soft). The diamonds are not big, but the style of the ring is what I love the most. It reminds me of a modern museum. The total cost is $1800.

Its not a “classic” engagement ring but those “blink bling” rings are not my style anyway.

This is my second marriage (I’m almost 30) and his first (he’s 51), we’ve been living together for almost two years, but he wanted to give me an engagement ring anyway. Screw tradition!

Going Crunchy said...

Well, we got a house instead of a ring. Worked for me! I did get a simple wedding ban with little diamond insets when we married, and then two eyars later he gave me an interesting ring that could pass as an engagement ring.

We just never really focused on the rings that much I guess. My husband is also Greek, and the though of an engagement ring isn't really common there either. Shan

psuklinkie said...

My fiance had no idea that there was even such a thing as a sustainable engagement ring when he bought my ring.
What he did do, though, was yield to his bank account, in turn finding a beautiful, tiny diamond mounted in a fetchingly slim white gold band.
Now, I know that the diamond was not mined responsibly and the gold is probably dripping in blood, but the fact that my size 5 ring is made with less than 1/4 carat's worth of diamond somewhat lessens the impact of this frivolous, though delightful tradition.

Anonymous said...

What does an It girl do if she loses all her money? Sophie Chesterton is a girl about town - she knows all the right people, goes to all the right parties, and wears all the right clothes. But deep down she suspects that her best friends are actually rather nasty, and that her lifestyle doesn't really amount to much. Her father wants her to make her own way in the world, to make him proud. But after one shocking evening her life is changed for ever. Scraping a living as an assistant to a 'glamour' photographer; living in a hovel on the Old Kent Road with four smelly boys; eating baked beans from the can - this is one spectacular fall from grace. Sophie is desperate to get her life back - but does a girl really need diamonds to be happy? Sophie's life is about to go from riches to rags ... Full of warmth and humour, Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend is the charming new comedy from the wonderful Jenny Colgan.

Silver Pen said...

This story was told to me by my land lord about his engagement ring: He was in med school and had very little money but he wanted to marry his girlfriend so he confessed his problem to his professors. They took pity on him and told him that he could 'recycle' the gold in the cadaver lab. He pried out several gold teeth from this rather large black man and took them down to the jeweler to be melted down and made into a ring. She was thrilled and they got married. But he made the mistake of telling this story at a party several years later and his wife has not worn the ring since.

I'm not sure I would either. :)

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