When it came time to propose to my fiancée, I knew three things for sure.
- I am in love.
- A Diamond doesn’t say forever.
- I want a handmade ring.
I got engaged later in life. I didn’t even meet my fiancée until I turned 33. As a result, I’m not caught up in the pomp of the wedding industry. I’m not bound by convention. Marrying young passed me by. I am marrying for true love, not social pressure.
When I started to ring shop, the idea of going to a mall didn’t get me excited. Monuments to suburban decline, like the mall, don’t embody the future. We did use the free ring sizing services offered by a local jewelry store. That’s when I stopped going to the mall and got online. My quest turned to the handful of online, handmade markets. I continued to shop for the perfect engagement ring for the love of my life.
The Marketing Myth
Over the years, I’ve read a number of articles on how the Diamond earned its place as the stone-of-choice for getting engaged. Diamonds are regularly used in commercial applications. Diamonds coat saw blades, drill bits and knives. Diamond coatings make cutting steal and stone possible. How did something you can find on saw blades, and grow in a lab, become so valuable? The answer lies within the story of De Beers and the success of the marketing phrase
A Diamond Is Forever
Marketing is the key to the puzzle of the outrageous costs of a Diamond, which doesn’t reflect its value. For something so expensive, a Diamond is surprisingly worthless second hand. When I think of the engagement ring that summarizes and symbolizes my love; a stone that more resembles a car than an investment, wasn’t what I wanted to say.
Diamonds lose at least 50% of their value the moment you walk out the door. That’s just like a new car the moment you drive it off the lot. Depreciation is bad. The type of immediate depreciation found in a Diamond is the opposite of a good investment. When I want an investment, I’ll buy an appreciable good. For love, I want a ring that says: We grow more valuable every day, together. The Diamond doesn’t say that. The Diamond says I’m overpriced. That’s why I chose to forget the Diamond. I want a ring free of hype. I want a ring that is beautiful. I want a ring that upholds my minimalist design aesthetic.
Diamonds, however, are not an investment. The market for them is neither liquid nor are they fungible.
Thankfully, the Internet has made the conversation about diamonds more truthful. A number of publications have tackled the De Beers marketing arm and their relentless push that the diamond is forever.
The sort of flawless, investment-grade diamond one reads about is almost never found in jewelry
With a 1 carat diamond ring costing $9,000 or more, ditching the diamond saves us thousands of dollars. Money that we can put towards our future, not just admire on her finger.
Selecting the Stone
Without the limitation of a Diamond, I started my search with birthstones. My fiancée is a January baby, which is Garnet. Garnet has one issue for me. My fiancée doesn’t like it. Garnet costs about as much per carat as a Diamond should cost. I had to look up the other birthstones. I’ve included a month and precious stone guide:
- January - Garnet
- February - Amethyst
- March - Aquamarine
- April - Diamond
- May - Emerald
- June - Alexandrite and Pearl
- July - Ruby
- August - Peridot and Spinel
- September - Sapphire
- October - Tourmaline and Opal
- November - Citrine and Topaz
- December - Zircon, Tanzanite and Turquoise
After I ruled out Garnet, I began to explore other precious stones. Immediately, Ruby and Sapphires jumped out as the most beautiful. Available in a number of different colors, both Ruby and Sapphire could fit any ring design and aesthetic. Also, Ruby and Sapphire are very hard. The hardness of diamonds is one of the few appealing aspects of the overpriced stone. Diamond is the hardest stone with a hardness of 10 on a 10 point scale. Ruby and Sapphire are very close, each with a 9 on the same scale.
Buying Her Ring
I’ve known from our first date I would marry this woman. I’ve been eying rings since that day. I started a more earnest search two months before I asked for her hand in marriage. I’ll never forget that day in January 2015. Starting the search around Thanksgiving, I kept a list of my favorites. As I mentioned, I did the bulk of my search online. Etsy caught my attention. Blue Sapphire had the strongest allure. I must have looked at hundreds of different designs. Every one more beautiful than the last. The rings ranged from intricate to antique. From simple and elegant to large and extravagant. From costly, complex and fragile to lovely, limited and rare. Every shape and style that can be found in a traditional, retail jeweler is available on Etsy. There are even a number of custom jewelers working via Etsy.
The Sapphire accent stone is the feature my fiancée loves the most about her ring. Though it’s more visible in this picture than on her finger. She still loves it. It peeks back at her with each causal glance at her ring, catching the light just right, it sparkles, winking to her. The Sapphire stone is hugged on both sides by a chain of diamonds. The diamonds hoist the glorious solitaire Sapphire up, hovering above the band. The ring itself is platinum, a valuable metal in its own right. The style of her ring is simple and minimal, but also bold and elegant.
Her ring is made by custom jeweler Austin Moore. Austin is kind, skilled and honest. He has excellent customer service skills. He helped walk me through the process. Since her ring is custom made, it took several weeks. Austin kept his word, delivering her ring on time.
She Said Yes
Of the $18,000 that I saved for an engagement ring, I purchased her ring for $3,500 and invested the remaining $14,500 in the stock market. Two years later, I stand firmly by my decision.
Her ring is a hit! My fiancée loves it. She regularly get compliments about it. It’s a great conversation piece, not only because Sapphire is less common as an engagement ring, but also because her ring itself is extraordinarily elegant and beautiful. Those aren’t the only reasons her ring is perfect. The ring design, and use of small, complimentary diamonds to the larger, Sapphire center stone clearly announces that it’s an engagement ring. Proving, it’s not the stone that establishes a ring’s designation.
The Diamond has fallen. Today, the Sapphire rises as the premier stone for engagement. Minimalist around the globe unite! Continue dethroning the extravagance of diamonds. End the illusion that the Diamond is forever. The Diamond is forever because it is plentiful. An abundance of Diamonds blesses the Earth. Industrial tools worldwide need diamonds. Give the Sapphire, the Ruby and the Emerald their day. Crown the next king of precious stones fit for your queen. Today is that day. Today the Sapphire rises.
After I proposed, we took her ring to have it appraised and insured. An independent appraiser established the price at exactly what I paid Austin Moore at TheWeddingAisle. I couldn’t be more pleased. Last month, I bought the matching wedding band. I enjoy doing business with Austin. He’s been great. I’m looking forward to my wedding day. Until then, my fiancée and I are enjoying her ring, life and love.