Don't Get Her a Diamond

[Tim Lee]

I'd like to associate myself with the remarks of my esteemed co-blogger regarding diamond engagement rings. I got engaged last fall, and after reading a variety of articles on the subject, including the Atlantic article Conor mentioned, Amanda made clear that she'd be happy with a non-diamond engagement ring, as she wasn't keen to have me sending thousands of dollars to African despots as a way of proving my love to her. She was also unenthusiastic about perpetuating a "tradition" that was manufactured by the diamond cartel within our grandparents' lifetime.
I investigated getting a cultured diamond, which are identical in every way to "real" diamonds except that I can be sure there were no child soldiers involved in extracting them. Most cultured diamonds are yellow diamonds, which are rare in nature but no more difficult to create in the lab. There's some beautiful jewelry available with cultured diamonds in them. Unfortunately, the closest cultured diamond shops were in Chicago, and the makers of cultured diamonds have focused on catering to the high end of the market, which made most of the options way out of my price range.

So instead I chose an engagement ring with a cultured ruby as its centerpiece. She liked it. And because we're believers in gender equality, we decided it would be good if she got me an engagement ring too.

I, for one, am looking forward to the impending commoditization of the gem industry. Cultured diamonds are still rare enough that they haven't put much downward pressure on diamond prices, but it's only a matter of time before the technology improves to the point where almost any diamond can be manufactured for a couple hundred bucks. And without the option of spending thousands of dollars on a garish status symbol, men will be forced to exercise more creativity in choosing tokens of affection.