It’s 2021, people, and it’s time to get smart about our engagement ring shopping. A lot of us also lost some serious income during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means it’s a worthy time to cut costs. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to almost too many good ideas, many of which focus upon life hacks, tips, and tricks. And what better way to hack life than to save money?
…And what better time to save money than when making big. ass. purchases? Big ass purchases like engagement rings.
For myriad reasons, I knew upfront that a diamond engagement ring was out of the question for my husband and I. After lots of research, we decided on a moissanite and white-gold wedding set that I absolutely love and have zero regrets about. The cool part of our research was learning that we were far from alone in our decision to purchase a diamond-alternative. In fact, with all of the out-of-the-box thinking, sharing of ideas, and nixing norms happening these days, many of us no longer feel the pressure to solely stick with diamond engagement rings. And you shouldn’t either! Here’s why:
You can save a ton of money
Let’s start with the obvious: diamonds are expensive AF. How is their cost justified? Because someone, somewhere decided that it was “the best” at one point, and we’ve all just been going along with that idea ever since? In terms of the logistics, there are plenty alternative engagement rings with gems that score just as high– if not better than— diamonds.
Hardness is one factor to consider when gem-shopping. This determines how easily a gem will scratch. The softer a gem is, the easier it will be to get scratched. A diamond ranks highest on the hardness scale, coming in at a 10/10. However, a moissanite (which looks just like a diamond, by the way), is a 9.25/10. Rubies and sapphires both rank a 9/10. Emeralds come in a little softer, but still solid, at a 7.5/10.
As far as “fire” goes– which is how sparkly the ring is in the sunlight– a moissanite actually has more than a diamond. The moissanite fire dispersion is 0.104, whereas a diamond’s fire dispersion is 0.044. To see for yourself, I recommend YouTubing “diamond vs moissanite fire” and watching a few comparison videos. Make sure to watch videos taken both indoors and outside in the sunlight, too. Forever One moissanites– the highest grade moissanite– are also sold in the D-E-F range of being totally colorless, just like top of the line diamonds.
Now let’s talk about cash schmoney. Forever One moissanites will run $289 for every half of a carat. (Ignore sources online that quote much higher to convince you to buy a diamond; I can confirm this price from experience). Diamonds, on the other hand? $1,100 and up— and that’s for a lower-grade diamond with more color (a yellow-ish tinge) and less clarity. So remind me again why we absolutely must purchase a diamond? Especially when we’re all overworked, underpaid, with little to no benefits or job security? Puh-lease.
You won’t carry a load of stress around
I don’t know about you all, but this is also why we refuse to buy a top-of-the-line cell phone. And also why we don’t buy super expensive clothing. What if something happens to these items? I don’t want to flip out if I splatter a little hot sauce or marinara on my $150 blouse, or have a meltdown if I lose my $800 iPhone.
Similarly, I don’t want to feel the pressure of wearing a $10,000 engagement ring. Even if you tell yourself that you’ll store your set somewhere else and only wear it for special occasions because it is so pricey, you can still be robbed. What if you simply lose or misplace your set? Crazier things have happened. My mom was once sitting at a red light, windows down, and someone reached INTO HER CAR and snatched a gold necklace with a cross that she designed herself on it, right off of her neck. Stolen. Boom. Just like that. While sitting in her car.
In the worst case scenario of having my engagement ring and wedding set stolen, misplaced, lost down a drain, or whatever it may be, I don’t want it to be an end-all-be-all moment for my family. I don’t want to walk around with the equivalent of our first home down payment on me. Who needs that kind of pressure or stress?! (Or lack of logic and practicality, for that matter?) I’ll pass.
You won’t buy your engagement ring from an unethical industry
You’ve likely heard the term “blood diamond” before, and for good reason. The diamond industry has maintained conflict since the early 1990s. Diamond wars started as ugly and brutal as it gets, littered with atrocities such as robbery, rape, murder, and mutilation. In the early 2000s, the United Nations General Assembly attempted to create regulations to end the horrific nature that accompanied diamonds, but as TIME reported 15 years later, the industry was still consumed by war and crime.
Nowadays, you’ll hear the term “conflict-free diamonds,” but don’t be completely convinced. Part of the reason why consumers are led to believe they can receive conflict-free diamonds is due to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). This program was created with intent to prevent conflict-ridden, or “blood diamonds” from entering the global market. However, there are so many loopholes within KPCS– not to mention smuggling and robberies– that no true accuracy and safety exists.
In fact, the only way to know that your diamond is 100 percent, absolutely, positively conflict-free would be to purchase a synthetic, or lab-created diamond. Which brings me to my next point…
You won’t fall for the false notion that lab-created engagement rings are “bad”
Engagement rings with lab-created gems have a bad rep, but it means that someone works in that lab, making a living wage, without their rights being compromised. Is that worse than buying and wearing something others will say is “more authentic,” but landed on your finger at the cost of smuggling, humans-rights abuse, child labor, murder, and more? Not to mention that lab-created gems are both conflict-free and eco-friendly, a drastic upgrade from their earth-grown counterparts.
With advanced technology, gems are easier to study and recreate. Moissanites, for instance, were originally discovered when a meteor hit Arizona back in 1893. Scientists collected rock samples, found this beautiful, diamond-looking gem inside, and studied its make-up. After learning what a moissanite is composed of, it was quickly realized that these gems could be replicated in a lab, and the rest is history. Why is that a bad thing?
You won’t fall for the outdated, exaggerated diamond engagement ring status
Ever hear the B.S. justification that diamonds are extremely expensive because they’re so “rare”? Go ahead and name three married people you know who have anything other than diamonds in their ring sets. I’ll wait.
What a crock! If everyone you know has a diamond engagement ring, then how is that rare?
Maybe that was true decades ago before the diamond industry scammed millions of people into buying their product, but by now, I think “rare” is a stretch of a selling-point. Not to mention De Beers’s industrial practice of restricting their supply of diamonds in order to make it seem as though those on hand were more rare than they actually were, thereby driving up the price. Just Google it; it’s effed up.
Alternative engagement rings give you a chance to get creative and personal
There are SO many gorgeous and unique alternative engagement rings out there these days, my friends. And again– thanks to the internet– you can find one that suits your style and personality in a matter of minutes. Even Forbes released an article on seven non-diamond alternatives for engagement rings (with moissanite on the list, by the way.) You can find some great ideas outlined here, as well as here.
While completing my own research for alternative engagement rings, I also came across several Etsy shops that created and sold unique engagement rings– some with no center stones at all. Hell, even Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher bought their wedding bands on Etsy– for just $90. You can also go the ultra-permanent route and opt for a tattoo in place of a ring. Don’t feel the need to buy the “idea” or “look” of an engagement ring that you’ve become hypnotized into thinking is the only option that exists.
Do you have an alternative, non-diamond engagement ring? If so, what did you choose?