As I near the end of my fourth year at UVa, many of my friends are getting (*gasp*) engaged. (No, mom, family, and friends, I am NOT engaged myself. Just wanted to put that out there.) All over my Facebook feed, I see utterly stunning photos of the happy couples and their engagement rings. While I am genuinely happy for their relationship, I do notice that all of the rings I’ve come across are diamonds, and diamonds have been a hot topic in the wedding industry for some time now. So why aren’t diamonds a girl’s best friend?
Please note that this post is by no means an attack on people’s wedding rings! The purpose of this post is merely to provide suggestions for alternatives to diamonds. Maybe you’ll find yourself inspired by some of the options described below.
Perhaps you’ve seen discussions about “blood diamonds” (diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to profit insurgencies – thanks, Wikipedia) or overheard how diamonds have a ginormous water footprint (1,100 liters of water for a 1 carat ring – and rings on the market may range anywhere from one to three carats at major retailers). I could go on about the social and environmental impacts the diamond industry has, but I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. If you’re interested, I strongly recommend reading the fact sheet from DiamondFacts.org or this article by Biberdorf, who explains the history of the diamond wedding ring industry and how it is not economically feasible to invest in a diamond ring (or check out the nifty infographic below).
Let’s say you’re looking for a piece of jewelry for that special someone, be it a ring or a different symbol of your love. What do you do, environmentally conscious reader? For starters, it’s a good idea to ask yourself what band material and what kind of gemstone you’d like. When it comes to selecting a band material, some materials such as tungsten are more resistant to wear and tear over time. Regarding the gemstone, do you want a gem that resembles a diamond, such as cubic zirconia, or something more colorful, such as a ruby or emerald?
In addition to the questions I asked above, definitely consider these as well:
- What is your budget? (THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF ALL.)
- How easily is the stone prone to scratching? (How soft is the stone?)
- How was the stone and band material obtained? Are the methods socially and environmentally sensitive? (What’s the water footprint?)
- Based on the gemstone, is there desired cut and color available?
I am by no means an expert on expensive jewelry (nor every day jewelry!), nor am I planning to get engaged any time soon, but I hope this post has at least been inspiring as to alternative types of gemstones you may consider in the future!