Diamonds Were Forever …
Getting engaged is one of the most fantastic and significant moments in your life. It is a time of huge transition; giving up one identity for another, falling in love, two souls becoming one. In a tradition that can be traced back to ancient Rome, this moment has been marked by the man giving his bride an engagement ring – a symbol of their lifelong commitment to each other.
The History Of Engagement Rings
Since the mid 20th century, mainly due to a brilliant marketing campaign by the diamond company, De Beers, the engagement ring of choice has been a diamond ring. So successful was their campaign that by 1990, 80% of engagement rings featured a diamond compared to only 10% in 1939.
A diamond is of course rare and beautiful, yet it’s expensive, is it really worth it?It seems the steadfast reputation of the diamond is now seriously under threat. In recent years, partly due to the new discoveries of diamonds in the late 20th century, the resale value of diamonds has reduced. The diamond industry has also had their fair share of troubles throughout the years with conflict diamonds, leading many consumers to look for alternatives. Today, another potential crisis of uncertainty is underway. Synthetic diamonds.
The Growth Of Synthetic Diamonds
Although it was originally impossible to produce diamonds artificially, techniques to do so have been around since the 1950’s. In the early days, synthetic diamonds were mostly industrial grade and for use as diamond powder in tools; meaning they were not gem quality and were heavily included to a point where they were black, gray, or brown and uneven in color. But the technology has grown in recent years. Modern techniques can now produce diamonds of essentially any desired size, and quality. Synthetic diamonds can be perfect since they are produced in a lab controlled environment. It all sounds like an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’.
What Is A Synthetic Diamond?
A synthetic diamond is a genuine diamond. In terms of its chemical composition of the stone and the mineral makeup, it’s no different than a diamond that came out of the ground. The only difference between synthetic and natural diamonds is origin. For this reason it’s incredibly difficult, perhaps impossible, to tell the difference between natural and man-made. While gemological laboratories are constantly trying to find innovative ways to tell the difference between synthetic and natural diamonds, there is still a bit of guesswork involved. It is important to note that reputable synthetic diamonds growers are always upfront about the origin of their product, never trying to sell their synthetic goods at the same price as natural ones.
But with the new technology becoming more available and readily understood, it is inevitable that a certain amount of synthetic stones will end up in the market, parading as natural diamonds. The quickly growing field is producing gem quality stones faster than ever, just this year the world’s largest synthetic diamond facility opened in Singapore. With this quick growth comes realization by many experts, that the difference between real and synthetics will be essentially indistinguishable very soon. This inability to guarantee that a stone is naturally occurring could undermine the high prices still currently charged for natural diamonds. Couples today are also more conscious of conflict free diamonds. As a result, many couples actually prefer synthetic diamonds, and the price of these stones are only getting lower as production can now meet the demand.
These days, when a couple choose and purchase an engagement ring they are making a unique statement about their love – They are not making a financial investment decision.
So What Is A Good Diamond Alternative?
However, an engagement is a once in a lifetime moment. Everything about it should be wonderful and cherished. The ring is a physical reminder of all that is important in a relationship. That is why it is special, that is why people care so much about doing the best they can and getting the right ring.
Would you want to look at a mass produced diamond ring in years to come, because with luck she will wear this ring everyday for the rest of her life, when you can choose something personal and unique of lasting quality? Surely not, because there are unique and affordable alternatives, such as sapphires and rubies. The prices of natural untreated sapphires are steadily rising, making it more of a reason to buy now!
The End Of The Age Of Diamonds
The scarcity of diamonds, their rarity, one of the very things that has made them so sought after for years, could be coming to an end. If machinery can churn them out, then there will be no limit. That symbolism associated with purchasing your own unique stone, unlike any other, will disappear. As they become more profligate what are the long term implications? One of the central factors as to why the best jewelry commands a good price is simply that it’s rare and unique. Without these qualities what financial value to do they have?
Interestingly, untreated gem quality sapphires are exponentially more rare than natural diamonds, and have proved impossible to replicate in a lab due to the very unique properties. Perhaps this is one of the reasons royalty use them as engagement rings.