A lot of people have asked me about Pamela’s engagement ring, so I thought I’d write a little bit about the story behind it.
First and foremost, I wanted to get a ring that she would enjoy wearing the rest of her life. We had already spent some time in jewlery stores looking at rings and I had not-so-discreetly asked her to try on a few and tell me what she thought of them, so I had some idea of what sorts of designs she liked. Pamela tended to prefer the three stone rings to the solitaires, liked symmetry and color, and favored designs that weren’t too boring. She also liked the silver/white-colored metals better than the gold.
I also wanted to get a ring that was unique and ecologically-friendly. Many years ago, I read about synthetic diamonds (a.k.a. “lab diamonds”, “cultured diamonds”, etc.) in a Wired article, and that story sparked my imagination. To me, synthetic diamonds represented the merging of cutting-edge technology and natural beauty. It also helped that I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of supporting DeBeers (though to be fair, they only control about 40% of the market now) or possibly buying a conflict diamond.
Armed with this knowledge, I decided to try create a ring from three loose stones: one colorless diamond between 1 and 1.5 ct. for the center, and two smaller blue diamonds about .5 ct. for the sides. I started my search by contacting several companies that create diamonds, which I found through a variety of sources including news and magazine articles, co-workers, and ever-dependable Google searches:
- Gemesis: With Gemesis, you have to search its network of jewelery stores and call each one to see if they have what you’re looking for. I called the three closest stores, the farthest of which was about 40 miles away, and got … mixed responses. Some of the people that I spoke to knew exactly what I was looking for, while others had never heard of Gemesis. None of them actually had any clear diamonds larger than 1 ct. or matched blue diamonds.
- D.NEA: The only company that actually lists its stock on its web site. Unfortunately, the stock that they display on their web site was out of date, so I had to call them to get any information about the current and future stock. They didn’t have any clear diamonds larger than about 0.8 ct. in stock, and they also didn’t have any matched blue diamonds larger than 0.5 ct. but I got myself placed on a wait list for both. I still haven’t heard back from them.
- Apollo Diamond: Based on what I found on their web site, they seem to specialize in colorless diamonds, and they don’t produce any stones larger than 0.6 ct. I decided that this was probably a dead end and didn’t end up contacting them.
- Chatham: Finally, I met with some success. I contacted Chatham by email with my request, and promptly received a response from Serena Chatham saying that not only did they have matched blue diamonds, they had a few different pairs I could choose from. However, she also said that Chatham doesn’t produce colorless diamonds, so I was out of luck there.
Since I couldn’t find any company with colorless diamonds larger than 1 ct., I looked into other options. One alternative I found through my roommate at that time, Brian Tsang, was moissanite. Moissanite has optical and hardness properties similar to diamond, is synthesized because it’s too rare in nature, and is less expensive than diamond. Oh and it’s SUPER SPARKLY. I decided to change my plan and switch the colorless diamond to a moissanite.
Finally, I had to choose a metal for the ring. Since Pamela preferred a white metal, the most common options I found were white gold and platinum. However, I also found a few jewelers offering palladium rings. After quite a bit more research, I decided to go with a palladium ring because the metal is hypoallergenic and doesn’t need re-plating to retain its color, unlike white gold (well, I guess it depends on the alloy), and is much lighter than platinum.
To make a long story short(er), I ended up purchasing a three stone moissanite palladium ring and replacing the side stones with blue diamonds. The result is absolutely gorgeous: a unique, super-sparkly ring that Pamela adores. The pictures we’ve taken don’t do it justice. We’re planning to put the original side moissanites into a pair of earings, but haven’t gotten around to that yet.
[ Update: one of my co-workers posted a much more detailed article about his own experience buying synthetic diamonds. ]
[Update: found a really good, recent article on the state of the synthetic diamond industry. ]