Diamonds for Engagement Rings: Why Precious Gemstones are Becoming More Popular

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There are many reasons that diamonds are starting to lose their edge in the engagement ring market. From fashion and rarity to ethics and economics, the tide is shifting against the diamond dominance. The diamond industry has seen sluggish growth in the West for the past few years. Only the rising numbers of diamond consumers in India and China have kept the industry growing, and even these consumers may soon transition to other precious gemstones.

1. Fashion
A century ago, it was normal to buy engagement rings without diamonds. After WWII, a concentrated marketing campaign made it seem like diamonds were the only option for the serious groom-to-be. This belief has helped to carry diamonds through fifty years of price inflation, decreasing rarity, and bad press.

The tide is now shifting. As seen in Prince William’s choice of his mother’s huge sapphire ring for Kate, it has now socially acceptable to buy engagement rings without diamonds. The diamond industry now faces much more serious competition in the engagement ring market, and may need to adjust their tactics accordingly.

2. Rarity
Almost no good in the world is more ludicrously priced than diamonds. Diamonds are not particularly rare, even compared to other precious gemstones like alexandrite and beryl. Additionally artificial diamonds can be produced with flawless quality and at a low price. This has led to a bizarre situation where flawed natural diamonds that barely sparkle are held at a higher value than brilliant, but artificial, stones. More serious, and pragmatic, gem buyers are now flocking to more unique gemstones in the hopes that these will keep their value.

3. Ethics
The diamond industry has received its share of bad press, both warranted and unwarranted. Warranted because diamond resellers are notorious for buying stones without looking into the stones’ origins; unwarranted because ethical diamond companies are common, especially in Canada. Nonetheless, many people associate the diamond industry as a whole with violence, while generally giving other precious gemstones a pass.

4. Economics
Diamonds are still prohibitively expensive. Ring-appropriate diamonds of high clarity can cost up to twenty thousand dollars, more than many middle-class people pay for their entire weddings. Very cheap diamonds, smaller than a carat, can still cost as much as some vacations. In this economy, it seems foolish to pay that much, especially when one can buy a clear 1-carat sapphire for less. People do like to buy luxuries, even when times are tight, but it’s becoming harder and harder for diamonds to stack up to some of the other luxuries out there.

5. Investments
We’re not the only ones seeing the gemstone industry shifting. Companies and investors are flocking to new gemstone developments. Even better, new advances in geology have allowed companies to locate new gemstone deposits. The additional money and methods in gemstone mining have led to better products for a lower price that are more than capable of competing with diamonds.

Guest Post by Michael Rantowsk

Author Bio
I’m a small engine mechanic who loves exploring all aspects of technology. I love to share my knowledge with others. I’m a major gadget nerd and am a sucker for whatever’s the latest and greatest. Presently I’m doing research on the applications of vector magnetometer .Contact me at Twitter.

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  • Wow, where do I start?, ” A century ago, it was normal to buy engagement rings without diamonds.”, Well it was a bit earlier than that, the first diamond engagement ring is noted as 1477, commissioned by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, I think you mean a couple of centuries ago, A century ago is 1914 and it was very common to have diamond engagement rings around then. I have been valuing diamond engagement rings from well over 200 years ago for many years.
    Next, “….. seen in Prince William’s choice of his mother’s huge sapphire ring for Kate, it has now socially acceptable to buy engagement rings without diamonds”. I’m not sure what you mean here, the sapphire is surrounded by some pretty hefty diamonds, not quite fitting the “without diamonds” attribution you apply.
    Next, “bizarre situation where flawed natural diamonds that barely sparkle are held at a higher value than brilliant, but artificial, stones”, natural stones will always command a premium over the artificial, not sure how that is “bizarre”.
    Moving on, “diamond resellers are notorious for buying stones without looking into the stones’ origins”, you have heard of the Kimberly Process I assume, It is actually illegal to sell new stones about which the origin is unclear or lacking origin documentation
    Next, “………foolish to pay that much, especially when one can buy a clear 1-carat sapphire for less.”, Based on my pricing charts, updated today, a Fine unheated Burma Sapphire of 1ct would cost between $10,700 & £12400 retail, whereas a 1ct H colour SI2 (eye clean) round brilliant cut diamond would cost $9900 on the same basis, Please check your facts & specify.
    This could have been a fine article, extolling the virtues of the wondrous range of coloured gemstones, instead it is an ill informed diatribe against diamonds.
    I don’t buy or sell diamonds, just value them along with other gem stones & silver & have been in the trade over 40 years, I am not an engineer so would hesitate to write an engineering article, I suggest that you think about a similar consideration.

    • Hello Ian,

      You raise some excellent points. I will ask our guest writer Michael Rantowsk to respond to this. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  • Michael Rantowsk 

    Hi Ian!
    I definitely see your areas of concern with the article. I understand that diamond engagement rings have been around for many centuries, but it’s arguable that they didn’t become the social standard for engagement rings until the late 40’s when De Beers launched their slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” Before that, it was more common than not to have an engagement ring without a diamond as the center stone.
    The Middleton/ Princess Diana ring, although it does include diamonds, isn’t considered a diamond ring. The conversation around the ring is always centered on its beautiful middle stone, which is notably a sapphire. One of the most intriguing things about this piece is its bold, rich colour! Something a standard diamond engagement ring can’t duplicate.
    And I do agree that it is industry standard for natural stones to be priced higher than artificial ones, but maybe it’s time for this to change! Advances in artificial stones has made it possible to produce near flawless pieces, yet they don’t compete in price to natural stones that are clouded, cracked, and lack any sort of luster one hopes for in an engagement ring. When it comes to rings, it might be time we start valuing the aesthetics and not just the origins!
    This isn’t a piece to degrade diamonds, but to highlight unique, cheaper options that people may not be extremely familiar with. Thank you for your response! 

  • Jerald

    Today, most people are utilising diamond for their engagement rings, because it is the sign of fashion and love. But, before going for a diamond engagement ring, it is important to know that the type of diamond you’re going to use and the ring material, because knowing these things will definitely help everyone to manage calculations.