Why I Chose a Non-Traditional Engagement Ring

by Darcie
engagement ring

A ring has long been a symbol of the commitment between two individuals. The tradition dates back to Roman times when a woman would wear a ring attached to a key which signified male ownership of her.

The tradition evolved in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring, the first ever recorded. This event would become the catalyst for diamond rings among European aristocracy and nobility.

But, until relatively recently, diamond engagement rings weren’t very popular in the U.S. Before World War II, only 10 percent of engagement rings held diamonds.

Then, in the late 1930s, international jeweler De Beers set a goal of “creating a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”

In the wake of this goal, De Beers came up with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and diamond sales exploded. Nearly 100 years later, over 80 percent of all engagement rings include diamonds.

Through most of my 20s, I, too, believed that I would someday have a diamond ring when I got engaged. Why wouldn’t I? That’s what everyone does.

But the more I developed my sense of self, I recognized that I don’t like to do something a certain way simply because that’s how my friends or society does it.

When Logan and I started talking about getting engaged, I did some more research and made the decision to consider a diamond alternative ring.

I considered a number of factors and determined that there were several attributes I would want in my engagement ring.

I want my engagement ring to align with my values.

Like clothes, cars, and consumer goods in general, jewelry is not a good investment. The second a ring is bought, it depreciates in value, even as much as 50 percent. Yet men are still told to invest two months’ salary into an engagement ring.

Given that I prioritize financial responsibility, asking Logan to spend two months of his earnings on my engagement ring felt incongruous with my values.

I knew I wanted to explore stones that would be a beautiful representation of our relationship without putting a minimum price on it.

I want my engagement ring to suit my personality.

I began my search by getting an idea of the options out there and gain suggestions from others. I mentioned my interest in a diamond alternative to a friend, and she asked if I’d heard of moissanite. I hadn’t.

She explained how moissanite was originally discovered on a meteorite in the late 1800s.

At first it was thought to be diamond, having similar properties in color, clarity, and hardness, but testing would reveal it was a completely different compound.

It was only ever found at that first dig site, and in tiny bits. So far as we know, moissanite is no longer available in its natural form.

However, natural moissanite has been replicated in labs. For decades, the company Charles and Colvard held the patent for creating it, but that has since expired, opening the door for many other jewelers to produce this type of stone.

In researching moissanite, I learned that it reflects light extremely well and is actually more brilliant than a diamond. It’s less likely to attract dirt and holds sparkle longer between cleanings.

Another interesting aspect is that some companies have moissanite in different colors, including pale yellow, which I’d been long interested in, even when I was considering a diamond engagement ring.

While moissanite seemed like a definite contender for my ring, I still wanted to explore other stones.

I want my engagement ring to be durable.

I want my engagement ring to last a lifetime. I know that diamonds are very hard gemstones; the hardest, in fact, with a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

But that doesn’t mean other gemstones wouldn’t be hard enough to last. In addition to moissanite, which is about 9.25 on the Mohs scale, I looked into other options–sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.

Based on my color preference, I didn’t feel like ruby or emerald were right for me. I fell in love with a pink sapphire and was encouraged when I learned that it’s very durable as well, coming in at a 9 on the Mohs scale.

And after seeing several pink sapphires in person, I had narrowed my decision down to two stones: pale pink sapphire or pale yellow moissanite.

I want my engagement ring to be timeless and easily worn.

I had to consider the colors I wear regularly and the color of stone I could see myself wearing long-term, through my thirties, fifties, and eighties.

I don’t know how my style and taste will evolve over the course of my lifetime, but I knew I wanted a style that felt unique but not trendy.

I love the color pink, but I didn’t feel confident that I would love it every day for decades. I felt that pale yellow would be more versatile and more timeless. Pink felt trendy to me, like costume jewelry.

And then I saw a cut I’d never seen before, and I knew that moissanite was the stone for me.

Though I find nothing wrong in choosing an ethically-sourced or lab-created diamond for an engagement ring, it wasn’t what I had in mind anymore. In considering my values, personality, and style preferences, I fell in love with moissanite and couldn’t be happier with my ring. It’s a beautiful symbol of the commitment Logan and I share and holds a special story for us.

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