Finding the perfect diamond ring to propose with is a tradition that we have upheld and honored without questioning for decades.
But the truth is, presenting your soon to be wife with a diamond ring hasn’t always been the norm.
A Brief History of the Engagement Ring
History tells us that the cavemen used to forage for plants and twigs and tie them around their “wives” fingers, wrists, or ankles to claim their spirits.
The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians were also fond of symbolic rings to represent the union of man and woman. The Romans used to use heavy duty materials for their rings like iron to symbolize the strength and permanence of the couple’s love. The Greeks were even the first ones to place the ring on the modern day “ring finger” because the vena amoris or vein of love on that finger was supposed to connect directly to the heart.
Not until the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who used a flat diamond in the shape of an M on a ring to give to Mary of Burgundy, did Europe start to use diamonds on their rings. There were a few notable exceptions for diamond use. The Puritans believed rings to be ostentatious so they opted to give practical thimbles to their spouses. Once they were wed, though, they cut off the top and left the rim to use as a simple ring.
The 19th century diamond boom in the Cape Colony of Africa made this precious commodity accessible to more people. In 1873, Cecil Rhodes founded the DeBeers Mining Company along with investors and their endeavor proved successful as they ended up controlling 90% of the world’s diamond production.
After World War II the trend in rings for men was rising since it represented their love for their significant other back home. Somehow, the trend never caught on.
There’s no doubht that the history of the diamond engagement ring is rich, but there are some people out there who want to make a statement and go down the road less traveled. There are plenty of alternatives to the typical diamond engagement ring that are more cost-effective and unique.
Before you go this route, it’s always good to make sure to ask your significant other if they are okay with a different ring option. You don’t want to decide for them and start your marriage off on the wrong foot. Here are a few alternatives that might tickle your fancy.
Man Made Diamonds
Synthetic and natural diamonds are chemically the same but their creation differs greatly. Synthetic diamonds are created in a lab through processes called High Temperature High Pressure (HTHP) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
These man made diamonds typically have less flaws than natural diamonds which detract from their unique and exotic beauty. Synthetic diamonds are also heavier since they are denser than natural diamonds. If you want anything over 1 carat then steer clear of synthetic diamonds because there are limitations to how big scientists can grow them.
Also, synthetic diamonds are up to 30% and 50% cheaper. Who could argue with that. If you want to buy conflict-free diamonds, then synthetic diamonds are the way to go.
Gemstones are a great way to go if you want your ring to stand out in a bright and shiny color. There are a variety of gemstones out there each with their own special meaning so here’s a list of colors along with gemstones and their significance just in case you were wondering:
- Brown – stability, harmony, practicality, and dependability
- Gemstones – agate, chocolate diamonds, tigers eye, and smoky quartz
- Black – prosperity, health, fidelity, strength, happiness
- Gemstones – onyx, black diamonds, agate, hematite and jasper
- Red – energy, passion, strength, love and power
- Gemstones – rubies, coral, garnets, and red diamonds
- Yellow – optimism, sociability, enthusiasm, and playfulness
- Gemstones – citrines, yellow topaz, orange topaz, amber, yellow sapphires, yellow diamonds
- Green – balance, luck, fertility, money, harmony and long life
- Gemstones – emeralds, jade, turquoise, peridot, and green sapphires
- Blue – loyalty, strength, confidence, truth, and good health
- Gemstones – Sapphires, tanzanite, aquamarine, lapis lazuli, blue topaz, and turquoise
- Purple – spirituality, love, enlightenment, serenity and pride
- Gemstones – amethysts, purple sapphire, pink and purple diamonds and pink topaz
- White – simplicity, elegance, innocence, integrity, and harmony
- Gemstones – diamonds, moissanite, white topaz, drusy quartz, pearls, moonstones and hematite
Ring With a Personal Meaning (Family Heirloom)
Some families pass their rings down from generation to generation. You might want to ask grandma if she’s hoarding a precious little stone in that attic that you’ve never got around to cleaning. Family heirloom rings have an air of sentimentality and nostalgia due to them representing other couple’s who have stood the test of time.
You can always change the stone or the setting but you will be losing the vintage value that so many people covet.
Hand Made Ring
With the advent of the internet came a whole new way to sell your goods online. E-commerce sites like Etsy have allowed creatives to turn their hobby into profit. Now you can buy an affordable and one of a kind engagement ring at the click of a button.
Most of the rings contain gemstones but there are options to include diamonds on it. They range from simple band engagement rings to artfully crafted quirky pieces. Whatever your taste is, someone on etsy has made it or can make it at your request. There are a ton of talented people out there and etsy makes it easy to find them.
When looking through estate jewelry you might come across a one of a kind antique and vintage ring that just pops out at you. Estate jewelry often has a strong association with the past. Estate jewelry is often classy, elegant, refined, and sleek compared to modern rings.
One thing to note is that pairing a vintage setting with an older cut diamond or gemstone is preferable. Pairing a vintage setting with a modern cut stone detracts from its nostalgic value.
Sometimes there may be a story attached to the ring, if you’re lucky. Older cut stones are also different than modern ones because the cutting techniques have been greatly improved.
A knot ring is another simple alternative to the traditional engagement ring. It symbolizes commitment, unity, and a long lasting bond between a couple.
Some knots even look like the infinity symbol which can represent the infinite and boundless love you have for your romantic partner. A knot can be a simple, sleek, and classy choice.
Matching Simple Ring (bands, etc)
Simple ring bands may not be flashy and shiny but at least they still hold special meaning to you and your partner. You don’t have to go out and spend two months of your salary in order to get a ring that won’t really matter on your deathbed. What matters is that both you and your significant other are okay sporting the band without the highly sought after diamond.
Cost, age, and meaning are all things to take into account when buying a ring but probably the most important thing you should consider is how your girlfriend feels when she looks at the ring. You guys may opt to buy a man made diamond due to budget restrictions but you will always know that it simply is not the real thing. This solid rock represents your solid relationship so make sure you have a happy wife and you will most likely have a happy life.