So she wants a big diamond engagement ring, but your bank account can’t quite stretch that far? These diamond alternatives look just as good as the real deal, but come at a fraction of the cost. Yes, really. And no, cubic zirconia is not one of them – we’re not that cheap.
If you’ve started shopping for her engagement ring already, you’ll know that diamonds aren’t cheap. Not even little ones. It takes time, money, and lots of skill to get a diamond out of a mine and turn it into a cut, polished, sparkling gemstone for a piece of jewelry. Plus, the engagement ring tradition means that diamonds are always in demand; that’s (mostly) why a diamond engagement ring will put such a dent in your savings.
Price isn’t the only disadvantage to buying a diamond; they also come with environmental and ethical issues. Mining for diamonds damages the landscape of the surrounding area, sometimes severely. And the controversy around conflict diamonds has been long running – these are diamonds mined in countries engaging in civil war, where profits from diamonds are used to fund the fighting and continue the violence.
So, maybe now some of the following options sound even more appealing?
Let’s get the technical jargon out of the way first; moissanite is a naturally occurring silicon carbide, discovered in 1893 by French chemist Henri Moissan. It’s extremely rarely found on earth because it’s actually comprised of meteorite fragment – and if you as us, that makes it ten times cooler than diamonds. Moissanite is also very, very similar in appearance to diamond – in fact since most moissanite is grown in a lab these days (due to its rarity in natural form) it usually has higher clarity and better brilliance than its diamond counterparts. It registers 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, where diamond scores a perfect 10, so it’s only slightly less durable. And did we mention moissanite can cost up to 90% less than diamond? Yep. Serious contender here.
You may know sapphires as having a deep blue hue, but they do actually come in other colours – including white. Although white sapphires are one of the rarest forms of this gem, blue sapphires are in much higher demand. That means white sapphires are very affordable – much cheaper than blue sapphires and definitely a lot cheaper than diamond. Look for white sapphires rated ‘AAA’ in quality and also ensure that you’re getting the real, ‘natural’ deal, without synthetically altered colour. Fun fact; diamonds are graded on a colour scale, and anything past the top three grades (D – G, or the really, really expensive ones) will have a slight hint of colour. With white sapphire, you’re getting better colour for as much as 75% cheaper. Bargain.
Again, you may know topaz as a blue or orange gemstone, but it can be white too (plus many other colours). Topaz gets an 8 on the Mohs scale so it’s not invincible like diamond, or as tough as moissanite or sapphire, but it can still withstand daily wear and tear quite well. Over time you will notice small scratches, however, and this also means your topaz will get less dazzling over time. It may not sound like a good diamond alternative so far, but hear us out. A one-carat topaz will cost at most a couple of hundred dollars, so its budget-friendliness can’t be denied. For couples with a very limited amount of cash to splash, we suggest choosing white topaz now, then upgrading to diamond in a couple of years time once you’ve had time to save up.
Not to be confused with cubic zirconia, white zircon is another cheap and cheerful – but still pretty convincing – alternative to diamond. When cut well it can rival diamonds in brilliance, and it’s arguably the best choice for a high quality/affordable price ratio. Like white topaz, be weary of white zircon gems that have been heat treated to improve their colour. Any good jeweler will disclose this information if you ask, and offer an all-natural version instead. Bonus advantage; Zircon is the birthstone for December, so if she’s a festive baby, a white zircon is a personal AND cost-effective choice for her engagement ring. Apparently in its colourless/white form zircon can also clear the aura, encourage wisdom and attract love. A multi-talented gem.
Okay, so it’s not diamond. It probably won’t be the first choice for traditional brides. But if it’s good enough for a-list celebrities to wear on red carpets, we reckon it’s good enough for her engagement ring. Swarovski offer a range of stunning rings, some of which adhere to traditional, classy engagement ring style and some of which go all-out on design, colour and the wow factor. If she loves following fashion trends and isn’t afraid to go alternative once in a while, this could be the perfect diamond alternative. Most of them don’t exceed $250, either. Even if she has her heart set on a diamond, a Swarovski Crystal makes a worthy promise ring or pre-upgrade ring.
Lab Grown Diamonds
Whether it’s budget, ethical or environmental worries that are turning you off ‘real’ diamonds, lab grown diamonds may offer the perfect solution. There are only two differences between natural and man-made diamonds; price and time. Natural diamonds are made through billions of years of heat and pressure deep underneath the earth’s surfaces. Man-made diamonds are made under the same circumstances, but in a lab and in a matter of weeks. Virtually zero environmental or ethical damage occurs, and you get an equally beautiful diamond that’s up to 30% cheaper. There are very few downsides, but one is that since your lab grown diamond is so much cheaper, it will have less of a resale value should you ever wish to upgrade or sell. Otherwise, there’s nothing to lose.
If you think real, natural diamonds are still the way to go, then just remember to buy responsibly and from traceable sources. Either way, we hope she enjoys her bling!