It’s hard to think about getting engaged without also thinking about diamond rings. In fact, diamond rings have become so integral to the engagement process, a 2019 survey by The Knot revealed that 90% of American couples exchange a ring when proposing, and 86% of those rings include a diamond center stone. And it’s not hard to see why.
Diamonds are brilliant, rare, and beautiful. As a symbol, they represent the purity and incalculable value of love. Their unique physical structure — created from carbon atoms being forced together into complex lattices under extreme heat and pressure — gives them a hardness and durability that’s unmatched in nature, and is a symbol for the strength of an enduring union.In terms of history, diamonds have been recognized as extremely valuable for thousands of years. First identified and traded during the 4th century B.C., for a long time diamonds were found almost exclusively in India. Their rarity and natural beauty was prized above all else, and in his Naturalis Historia, Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote that diamonds are the “most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”
History of Diamond Rings
Much like diamonds, wedding/engagement rings have a long and interesting history. But despite the tradition of exchanging rings dating back as far as ancient Egypt, the custom of pairing these rings with diamonds is actually a relatively new development.
The first recorded example of a diamond being used in an engagement ring occurred in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy, with a ring featuring several oblong-shaped diamonds arranged on a plain band to form the letter ‘M.’
Mary said yes to the proposal, so it stands to reason that the ring was well received. But the ring, and the novelty of incorporating diamonds into engagement ring design, had an even more lasting impact on the world. The nobility of the time followed suit, and diamond engagement rings became popular among betrothed couples that could afford them.
That popularity has grown over time. And today, diamond rings are as much a part of the engagement process as the bended knee or the enthusiastic kiss.
Creating the Perfect Diamond Ring
Modern diamond rings are available in a huge variety of styles. And while specific designs may fade in and out of popularity, the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a diamond ring isn’t what’s trendy right now; it’s the personal style and preferences of the recipient. After all, your engagement ring is supposed to represent your relationship, no one else’s.
Thankfully, the diamond engagement ring purchase process allows for extreme customization. You choose the diamond, including the color, clarity, cut, and carat size (known as the 4 C’s of diamonds). And then you can take things further.
In shopping for a custom diamond ring, you’ll have several decisions to make. Here are some of the most important, and a brief summary of what each entails:
A diamond ring’s setting describes how the diamond or diamonds are secured to the band. The setting is an essential part of the ring, not only in terms of style, but also in terms of engineering; the setting should firmly lock each individual diamond into its designated place, protecting the stones while also showing them off.
The style of a diamond ring refers to the arrangement of stones on the band. Popular styles include the solitaire, halo, three-stone, vintage, and classic styles. The style is often the first thing an observer will notice about a ring, and so you should pay special attention to choosing a style that suits your loved one’s taste.
Ring bands can be constructed out of almost any metal, but for diamond rings, precious metals are much more common. And while some modern ring shoppers elect for silver or titanium in their rings, gold seems to be the most widely used metal in diamond rings for women. White gold and yellow gold have always been popular and rose gold is seeing increased use in recent years. However, for those who want a ring with extra strength, platinum offers increased durability compared to gold.
Although you will occasionally see rough diamonds used in jewelry, most diamond rings include stones that have been expertly shaped and polished for optimal shine. That’s because a diamond’s shape will play a key role in how light is reflected through the stone; fire, brilliance, scintillation (sparkle) — they are all directly related to the diamond’s shape. Additionally, differently shaped diamonds can change the overall appearance of the ring itself, and some shapes will naturally look better when paired with different settings, styles, or even hands. Popular diamond shapes include round brilliant, oval, emerald, princess, pear, radiant, cushion, and heart shape.
When shopping for a diamond ring, don’t hesitate to discuss your options with a jewelry expert. They will be able to help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for, and then identify the diamond rings that fit your needs.
It’s also worth noting that the turnaround time on a custom diamond ring is slightly longer than if you were to purchase a premade ring. Likewise, if you know what you’re looking for, it is possible to find the perfect ring without having to construct one — just make sure you do your research and don’t settle for something that your partner may not love.
Mined vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds
Diamonds are naturally formed deep within the earth and carried to the surface via explosive volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately, the specific kind of eruption (called a kimberlite eruption) that brings diamonds up and out of the earth’s mantle is very uncommon. In fact, it’s estimated that the most recent kimberlite eruption occurred several million years ago. Additionally, there are only a few parts of the world that are known to be rich in natural diamonds.
Unfortunately, some of the parts of the world that are the most abundant in diamonds are also currently facing problems with war and poverty. And often, the sale of these diamonds is used to finance violent, illegal action. This is where the terms “conflict diamond” and “blood diamond” originate.
The human cost of mined diamonds is something that should never be overlooked, and neither should the environmental cost. In fact, it’s estimated that mining a single one-carat rough diamond can displace roughly 1,700 tons of earth. This can lead to soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, and the destruction of farmland.
As an alternative to the problems associated with mined diamonds, many couples are turning to lab-grown diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and visually identical to mined diamonds. They are made from carbon atoms subjected to extreme environments, just like the diamonds that come out of the ground. They have the exact same sparkle, clarity, and durability that you find in “traditional” diamonds. The difference is that they are never used to fund atrocities, create no negative environmental impact, and (thanks to their reduced labor and transportation expenses) cost as much as 40% less than mined diamonds of equal quality and size.
If price is a consideration, and if you’d like a beautiful diamond ring that you can give to your significant other without the risk of supporting violence, then check out our collection of beautiful lab-grown diamonds.