Moissanite or what?
June 16, 2005 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with a moissanite engagement ring? I hate the diamond industry because I've been doing human rights work all my life, but those Harry Winston diamond ads make me swoon more than I'd like to admit.

I like the clarity and sparkle of diamonds, but they're not an option. If you went with moissanite, are you pleased with the quality and look? How did you find a dealer? Do you feel compelled to explain that it's not a diamond all the time? Has anyone gone with another kind of human rights-friendly (no emeralds) stone and been happy with it? Something unique that doesn't draw stares of disdain from my traditional friends and family... help! Isn't it enough for marriage to be forever?
posted by hamster to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure it's a trend now to get gem stone engagement rings, instead of diamonds. And if you pick the right gemstone, people might even think it's a fancy expensive colored diamond! A nice sapphire (they come in lots of colors) with a small CZ (cubic zirconia, fake diamond) on either side might be really pretty.
posted by geeky at 3:04 PM on June 16, 2005

Would antique rings with old diamonds be OK? I admit that I'm not educated in the issue surrounding the diamond trade (and the link provided says "for years" but not how many), so I'm curious if a ring that was of a certain age would be OK because it was mined before the trade became corrupted.

A friend of mine got an antique ring of sapphires for her engagement ring -- just lovely, and she gets many compliments. My engagement ring was an heirloom ring (his grandmother's engagement ring that she gave him to give to me) of diamonds. If an antique or heirloom ring is an option (and is OK as far as the diamond trade) you may be able to have it both ways.
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:17 PM on June 16, 2005

it is enough for marriage to be forever, if that's any help.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:33 PM on June 16, 2005

Are you biddable on this? de Beers is a major client of two of my previous employers so I've a few years in purgatory to atone for this but there is a way through this.

You can buy certified non-conflict diamonds - your link is specifically about conflict diamonds. We're singing from the same hymn sheet on that subject. A top drawer jeweller will be able to sort you out with certified stones - if you ask. Expect to pay a - further - premium.

Now the kicker. The certified non-conflict diamonds programme was initaited by de Beers. There are other producers out there, if I recall correctly de Beers only has about three-quarters of the market. In particular Australian diamonds may present a realistic alterative for you. I would have word with the best jeweller in the nearest big city to you. Their MD will be receptive to your concerns and will be able to offer you real alteratives.

Also this is well worth reading on the subject. Note also that there's a more complex narrative here. de Beers has bowed meaningfully on this issue and have cleaned up their act to some extent. Moreover as a company they do fantastic work in partnership with the Botswanan government in the fight against HIV/AIDS providing workers and their families with drugs and an ordered treatment regimin. There's industry orientated news here.
posted by dmt at 3:51 PM on June 16, 2005

You could look into buying one of the new artifical diamonds, thus helping fund the science researce that is soon to destroy the cartels and their bloodshed.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:03 PM on June 16, 2005

I, too, am not well-versed in all aspects of the horrors that the diamond industry and mining have caused, but if you are willing to go with them, Canadian diamonds might be an option. If anyone has links on the politics of this part of the industry, please share. Here's some propaganda.
posted by girlpublisher at 4:03 PM on June 16, 2005

Funny, I was looking at these Argyle diamonds just yesterday. Flashy and conflict-free.
posted by rdc at 4:13 PM on June 16, 2005

Moissanites are lovely but they're still going to cost you a bit of money. Certainly not as much as a diamond, but they're not dirt cheap either. I have heard some dealers and buyers and say that there is a slight green tint to most moissanite. The few moissanite pieces I've seen were absolutely gorgeous and not green at all but I would be wary of buying anything I haven't seen with my own two eyes first.

Also, if you really love the fire and sparkle of diamonds and you aren't planning on going really big, consider CZ. There are some really beautiful CZ pieces being made now that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

My stepmother has a 3/4 ct. round brilliant CZ that gets compliments all the time and puts the diamonds in her wedding band to shame. They are also much cheaper than either diamonds or moissanite.
posted by LeeJay at 4:36 PM on June 16, 2005

I just gave my girlfriend a platinum ring with an absolutely beautiful pink sapphire. It's shinier than a diamond, I think, and much more eye-catching. You're happy about the marriage, you want it to be a conversation starter.

It's just under a diamond in hardness, so it'll last just as long unlike something softer. And damn, it's gorgeous. I hate jewelry, but this thing really grabbed me.

G'luck. BTW, I got the sapphire because she hates diamonds, too, for the same reasons.
posted by symphonik at 4:44 PM on June 16, 2005

I am fascinated by the cultured diamond industry that is emerging.

Read The New Diamond Age ("Armed with inexpensive, mass-produced gems, two startups are launching an assault on the De Beers cartel. Next up: the computing industry.").

Check out Apollo Diamond and Gemesis.
posted by ericb at 5:00 PM on June 16, 2005

Cultured diamonds are here to stay.
posted by ericb at 5:02 PM on June 16, 2005

Are you biddable on this? You can buy certified non-conflict diamonds

Wrong question.

Cultured diamonds are indistinguishable from the mined variety. Click "Where to Buy" to find a place in your area that sells them.
posted by jjg at 5:28 PM on June 16, 2005

What jjg said!
posted by ericb at 5:40 PM on June 16, 2005

If you are interested in colored gems, diamond stimulants, or even diamonds, I suggest you check out, as my fiance and I did when we started looking for an engagement ring, Pricescope. Those people know more about this subject than is healthy. (I probably do, to, so feel free to e-mail me (see profile))

We are going with a GORGEOUS chrome tourmaline (my pretty rock) in a white gold setting that's studded with diamond... It makes me swoon, too...
posted by lalalana at 6:10 PM on June 16, 2005

Oh, and if you really want a "vegan" stone that's actually mined-from-the-earth, check out Australian and Motana sapphires...
posted by lalalana at 6:12 PM on June 16, 2005

Talk to your partner about the ring and don't worry about what traditional family and friends say about your selection, as long as you're both happy with the choice.

Perhaps you can also discuss designs and ring settings with a jeweller for a beautiful unique piece.
posted by Chimp at 6:20 PM on June 16, 2005

Thanks for your help so far, folks... this is really useful. I'm definitely not biddable (thanks though) and feel strongly about DeBeers (whether or not they've made adequate reparations is another thread, but I appreciate your advice). Antiques are an interesting outlet, but since diamonds have been inflated in price and central to horrors in Central and South Africa for over 100 years, I'm not sure they're my best bet. They do appeal to my art-deco / reuse-it sensibilities, though... something to think about. I'd much rather pay people than cartels.

I'm specifically interested in moissanite because the stones are clear... I love the traditional, classic look of platinum and diamonds. Blue sapphires could be an interesting bet. What other colors does tourmaline come in? That's an incredible stone, lalalana--congratulations! Green doesn't fit my style so well, but I love the idea of a tourmaline. Have there been any advances in making cultured diamonds in colors other than yellow? Keep 'em coming... and thanks again!
posted by hamster at 8:37 PM on June 16, 2005

Don't rule out CZ, they are stronger than diamonds and just as beautiful.
posted by Goofyy at 9:10 PM on June 16, 2005

hamster, if blue/purple is an option, you might try tanzanite. The ring my boyfriend and I picked out is tanzanite, but the stone is so light in color that the purple just shimmers a bit - you have to look twice to make sure it's not a diamond. Of course, I'm not as up on who-does-what-to-mine-jewels as you, so it may not be what you're looking for.
posted by ArsncHeart at 9:21 PM on June 16, 2005

Have to second ArsncHeart's tanzanite suggestion -- they really are gorgeous stones. My mother has a blue one of such depth and clarity it's breathtaking.
posted by coriolisdave at 11:34 PM on June 16, 2005

What ericb said!
posted by jjg at 11:37 PM on June 16, 2005

Since no one really seems to have any first hand opinions to offer you, let me tell you to go ahead with the Moissanite.

I did some research a year ago, and was fascinated. There really are no down sides. This is a man made stone that sparkles more than diamonds, unlike cubic zirconia, which is obviously fake. The sparkle is amazing, and definitely impressive. I bought my GF a pair of 3/4 carat moissainte studs. She's in love with them. THey were *way* cheaper than perfectly clear diamonds, and "look real".

I'd say go for it. Easily available on eBay, as well.

posted by kungfujoe at 3:34 AM on June 17, 2005

Cubic zirconia is not "fake". Its a natural stone so durable, they survive a trip through the mantel and back (millions of years). A diamond won't survive like that. Look it up in New Scientist.
posted by Goofyy at 4:48 AM on June 17, 2005

White cultured diamonds are on their way very soon, but maybe not soon enough for your ring!
posted by availablelight at 6:34 AM on June 17, 2005

> unlike cubic zirconia, which is obviously fake

Fake what? Is the goal to wear something but make people think you are wearing something else? Or is the goal to wear something because you like it?
posted by pracowity at 6:43 AM on June 17, 2005

obviously fake

this gets to the heart of the matter. what is the mindset that worries you? personally, i wouldn't have a clue how to tell the difference, but then i'd be looking at you kind of odd for wearing a ring with rocks in it at all.

in the end, you do things to fit in with the (micro-)society you live in. so you need to take a good long look at those people. if they're the ghastly kind of person who really does worry about that kind of thing, you need a diamond. and god help you.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:05 AM on June 17, 2005

I bought these moissanite earrings on eBay because I'd seen the stone (on shopping TV) and thought it looked spectacular. The earrings have very small stones (probably the equivalent of .10pt diamond) but they are very, very sparkly and everyone who notices them asks if they are diamonds.

One TV shopping channel in the UK features moissanite a lot, some of it is very expensive, and although it has a lot of 'fire', it looks as if it refracts light in green/orange/yellow flashes.

I'd love a ring, but they aren't cheap compared with CZ.

But ...

I wouldn't ever go with CZ as an engagement ring. It goes milky with everyday wear and, whilst the milkiness can be cleaned off with a toothbrush and some Arm & Hammer, it's a PITA and, to anyone who has half an eye for jewelry, CZ is immediately spotted as being too blue/white, and lacking in fire compared with diamond.
posted by essexjan at 8:33 AM on June 17, 2005

There's a girl on who lives in my area who I've met. She got a custom ring made by a jeweler lapidarian who lives in rural WA and gets most of his work by word of mouth advertising. He actually is setting my stone, too.

Anyway, he cuts his own CZs. They are "warmer" in color than most CZs, and therefore A LOT more realistic looking-- i.e., not too blue/white. Plus, because he cuts them himself so they really do have all the right angles in all the right places and look just like a well-cut diamond. They are very fiery, but not *too* fiery, as I think moissanites are. Because they are so well cut, they hold up to wear A LOT better than factory cut CZs. They're more expensive, mostly because of labor. Factory CZs are sell wholesale for pennies. He charges about $70 - $100, I think. I've seen these stones and they are gorgeous. Plus, for me, it's cool to know that a lone artisan is doing the work in his home-shop, you know? Oh! And he can do antique facet patterns and other fancy cuts if you prefer.

Anyway, I'm sure she'd be happy to talk with you about her experience. E-mail me and I'll e-mail her.

Also, the going consensus is that it looks best when you set a synthetic with real diamonds as the side stones. Synthetics just don't look good or hold up to wear in small (i.e., melee) sizes.

But seriously, take this thread to or or Great resources.
posted by lalalana at 9:13 AM on June 17, 2005

I chose a moissanite engagement ring for price, beauty, and geek factor (we are sf fans and liked that it was first discovered in meteorite fragments). It's been four years and it still looks fine. One advantage of moissanite over CZ is that it can take heat, so if a ring needs repair the stone can stay in place.

In 2001 moissanite wasn't quite as well known as it is now, but we found a jeweler who carried it.

I can't help you with the stares of disdain.
posted by anitar at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2005 [2 favorites]

My best friend bought his fiancee a Moissanite ring after I told them both about how crappy the diamond industry is.

She's been very happy with it, and has recieved no negative judgements about it from anyone (and lots of accolades). I think it looks great, and to my untrained eye it looks just like a diamond.
posted by Four Flavors at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2005

Your question about Moissanite piqued my own curiosity, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. If you haven't seen it yet, the Wikipedia entry on Moissanite is very informative and has good information comparing Moissanite to diamonds.
posted by geeky at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2005

More and more women are wearing non-diamond engagement rings, myself included. I did not want a diamond for the reasons you mentioned. I have an aquamarine. I think it's gorgeous, and I receive compliments on it all the time. Plus, it was cheap and says "according to ancient traditions, carrying an aquamarine is supposed to guarantee a happy marriage and to make its owner happy and rich at that – the ideal gemstone...for lovers and married couples." It is also known as the stone of peace and serenity.
posted by suchatreat at 2:27 PM on June 17, 2005

I didn't see your post earlier about preferring the classic look. Sapphire comes in every color (except red, because red corundum is called ruby) and is one of the hardest/most durable gems next to diamond. You could get pale blue, pink, or yellow. Actually, there's even white sapphires!

There's also another gem called chrysoberyl that's really durable and has a higher refractive index than other gems so it throws flashes of color much like a diamond. It's usually a yellowish greenish color.

The *most* important aspect of any gem-- diamond, colored stone, or synthetic-- is cut. Make sure you get educated on that subject before you make any purchase. A white sapphire cut by a real artist will be gorgeous... a poorly cut one will look pretty bad.
posted by lalalana at 8:23 PM on June 17, 2005

Sorry to be making so many posts, but this really is my favorite subject... I sometimes have the urge to pressure my friends to get engaged just so I can talk with them about their ring choices. Is that sick? Heh...

Anyway, I was thinking about it, and if you like the look of diamonds, something tells me you might like concave cut gems. It's a way of doing faceting with different tools that creates a really interesting look. It's not very common and you'll pay a bit of a premium. Anyway, check out this lighter blue concave cut sapphire. Although I know of some people who don't like the look (like my boyfriend), I think that this is non-diamond that *no one* would turn their nose up at.
posted by lalalana at 10:51 PM on June 17, 2005

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