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New Trend Alert: Non-Diamond Engagement Rings

ring by Christopher Schmidt (flickr)

New Trend Alert: Non-Diamond Engagement Rings

I don't know about you, but I'm admittedly loving the way trends in the jewelry industry are starting to focus less on diamonds and a bit more on the more colorful gemstones. There is always going to be a place for diamonds in the industry. That isn't going to change. For a lot of people I think the idea of certain pieces of jewelry including anything but a diamond is outrageous. In fact, I think what I'm about to say may shock some people but I'm going to say it anyway:

I don't have a diamond engagement ring.

Eek! I know, an engagement ring with no diamond sounds almost unbelievable, but it's true, and I couldn't be happier! One of the things my friends and family know about me is my love of vibrant, deep colors, something that you don't usually get with diamonds. Colored diamonds exist, but I'm a purist I guess. I like my colored stones to be known as colored stones. When people hear the word "diamond" they don't think of bright colors. I love being able to say "I have a ruby engagement ring!" without having to explain the color or vibrancy of the stone. They hear "ruby" and they think "red" without me even saying the word. I'm not entirely alone in my excitement about an engagement ring with a stone that isn't a diamond, but there is some debate.

Non-Diamond Engagement Ring Controversy

For a lot of people diamonds are the ideal stone for an engagement ring. They match everything, they're geological miracles, and they sparkle like… well… diamonds. A recent Huffington Post debate made it pretty clear, however, that people LOVE and HATE diamonds as engagement rings. One participant in the discussion refers to diamonds as "tacky," while another says that it's okay to have an engagement ring with a stone that isn't a diamond as long as it is still clear, while still another proclaims that she wouldn't want a diamond ring and would rather have a ring with a colored stone because a diamond just doesn't fit her relationship with her significant other. One poster made the claim that diamonds are traditional and that while other stones are acceptable in other jewelry, the engagement ring should always be diamond. Here is my little contribution to that point.

The History of Diamonds and Engagement Rings

Engagement rings have been presented and worn since the time of pharaohs. Ancient Egyptians wore engagement rings and eventually influenced the Greeks to do the same. From there the tradition evolved but the interesting thing about this long running tradition is that diamonds were not used in these rings. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that the first diamond engagement ring was presented to a woman. The diamonds began appearing as a sign of wealth. Men would buy rings with diamonds for their betrothed to show that they had money, power, and influence.

After the Great Depressions diamonds were, understandably, not something that people felt they needed. It really wasn't until 1938 that some very clever and influential advertising sought to convince people that if they were giving or receiving an engagement ring, it absolutely must have a diamond. The campaign was incredibly successful. In 1939 less than 15% of engagement rings had diamonds, but that number increased and by 1990, 80% of engagement rings featured diamonds.

This begs the question - Are diamonds really traditional? Yes. Certainly. Traditions change and evolve with time. No, engagement rings didn't originally feature diamonds, and even once they did they weren't as popular as they are today, and probably wouldn't be without some very good marketing, but the fact remains, they are, for many people, a symbol of a committed relationship.

But once again things are changing.

Today people want engagement rings that represent who they are and the relationship they have with their partner. For some people, the clarity and symbolism of the diamond is perfect. For others, diamonds may not be something that suits who they are as a couple. The wonderful thing about this new trend in engagement rings is that the people who want diamonds are still going to be able to easily get them, while those who want something a little different will be able to more easily get a ring that suits their individual interests. Fashion is very much dependent on the personalities and interests of the people who wear it and as fashion changes it should be expected that engagement rings will do the same. Some celebrities have engagement rings that feature stones other than diamonds as well, and we know that nothing helps set a trend like a celebrity endorsement. Jessica Simpson was given a ruby ring by Eric Johnson and Elizabeth Hurley was given a ring by Shane Warne that featured a sapphire as its focal point.

I hope you're as excited as I am about this new trend. If you are, or if you aren't, I'd love to hear your thoughts!