There’s no denying that diamonds are a traditional symbol of romance and love, justifying the well-known quote that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Also, if you were to ask a hundred people what they think of first when they hear the word “diamond,” most of them would probably say a diamond engagement ring. Eternal love had become the equivalent with diamonds.
Even with the political and social repercussions, diamonds remain the choice for engagement rings. Clear diamonds, those with undetectable or superficial flaws remain the most common, but colored diamonds – caused when impurities are absorbed during the formation of the stone – have become more popular.
These colored diamonds are more expensive than clear ones, but many of them come from countries without the stigma of conflict or blood diamonds. For example, the ring in the image above includes a beautiful fancy vivid purplish pink diamond from the Argyle mine in Australia.
- Type I diamonds. These diamonds have nitrogen as the primary impurity. Depending on the amount and dispersion of nitrogen, these stones have a yellow to brown hue. Almost 98 percent of these stones have no visible coloration and are sold as clear diamonds.
- Type II diamonds. These diamonds do not have nitrogen impurities, but have structural irregularities created during crystal growth. Type IIadiamonds are generally pink, red or brown. Type IIb diamonds are usually light blue due to boron absorbed into the crystal matrix.
Other diamond colors include: black caused by the absorption of graphite, purple diamonds that have a high hydrogen content and green diamonds which get their color from absorbing radiation. Other colors are possible and usually fall under one of these categories.
Colored diamonds, of any type, are very rare. Approximately 1 in 10,000 natural diamonds have enough impurities to affect the color. Interest has spiked over the last ten years as they have become more well-known.
Scientists have discovered ways of growing diamonds in a lab. Originally developed for industrial and technological applications, synthetic diamonds are being used more and more in jewelry. The costs are significantly less than natural diamonds and they are less flawed than natural stones.
This makes identification of man-made diamonds relatively easy by experts but allows consumers to wear jewelry that, although not natural, they appears much more expensive than it really is.
Until someone mounts an effective public relations campaign to displace diamonds as the ‘symbol of love,’ engagement rings will feature this stone as their centerpiece. Rubies, sapphires and emeralds – as well as other precious and semi-precious stones – might have more vibrant colors and comparable properties as diamonds, but none have the cachet that diamonds have been given.
When choosing your engagement ring, the decisions you make can be boiled down to ‘how much am I willing to spend.’ Color, clarity, type and setting all add to the cost. An inexpensive, man-made diamond ring could be bought for less than $1,000, while natural, pink diamond engagement rings in well-made setting will cost you considerably more.
The decision, of course, lies with you and your partner. A well-made engagement ring will last for hundreds of years unless something catastrophic happens, certainly longer than the marriage that it signifies which gives the couple the opportunity to begin creating their legacy before the marriage even begins.
When viewed through the lens of history, an engagement ring that can survive generations of use is an investment in the future of the family, not just an object of personal affection.