BY BREE CLARKE
Numerous brides today, along with their partners, are opting for alternatives to the traditional diamond engagement ring for a multitude of reasons. Movies, like “Blood Diamond,” books and news media have brought the issue of conflict (blood) diamonds to the mainstream. Many couples do not wish to celebrate their engagement with diamonds that reached their jeweler via unethical practices. For others, several months salary can be spent in better ways, especially now during the worst recession in history. Some just want to be different and break free from tradition. As a result, they choose a ring that celebrates the individuality of their relationship and one that stands out from the norm. Ultimately, the most important thing in an engagement ring is its symbolism and what it means to you. For many, an engagement ring doesn’t have to be a diamond ring.
There are several symbolic choices that are both unique and less expensive. A great stand-in for the diamond is a precious gemstone such as a ruby, blue sapphire or emerald. Even the English Royal Family has selected precious gemstones such as these in lieu of the diamond. The Queen Mother, Princess Diana and Princess Anne all received blue sapphire engagement rings, while Sarah Ferguson chose a ruby ring. Rubies, sapphires and emeralds, members of the gem group known as corundum, are very durable with a rating of 9 on the Mohs’ hardness scale for gemstones. The diamond is the hardest gem with a rating of 10.
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