2014 Clark Scholarship Finalist – Essay 4

I am going to begin where my husband and I began our journey in discovering our perfect engagement ring. Although I knew I wanted him to choose my engagement ring, there were a few important aspects of it that I really desired for him to incorporate. As strange as it might first sound, the first detail of my engagement ring that was important for my husband to consider was the origin of the stone that would be the centerpiece of the ring. Little did we know that this detail would lead to us into considering selecting a colored gemstone, which we knew very little about, over the ever-popular diamond.

My husband and I do humanitarian work in East Africa and, in doing so for the past decade, I have grown very close to the culture and the indigenous people that live there. Consequently, after reading up on blood diamonds, choosing a stone that was conflict free became very important to me. However, locating a diamond that was conflict free became a daunting task. We came to realize that many respectable diamond companies in the United States were using diamonds that had been extracted from mines in the middle of African war zones. In doing so, these companies are directly funding warlords to have control over innocent lives and entire communities.

It was in this place that we discovered the possibility of colored gemstones as our ring’s centerpiece. In doing my research, I have found that gemstones, although not always completely conflict free, are at a much lower risk of coming from mines located in warzones across the globe. Rubies, sapphires, and alexandrite, for example, are much scarcer than diamonds, not only making them unique, but also allowing them to be less susceptible to being mined and owned by the large players involved in the blood diamond industry. Colored gemstones, therefore, became a great option for us as we sought to find a conflict free engagement ring that I would be proud to wear. It would also be just the beginning of us understanding why colored gemstones are the clear choice in selecting a piece of jewelry over that of diamonds.

Due to the efforts of gemologists such as Donald Clark, the founder of IGS in 1998, amateurs, such as myself, are able to have access to immense knowledge about all the incredible colored gemstones around the world. There is so much to gain and learn about gems, and it allows those searching for high-end jewelry, to uncover something beautiful and unique, often, at a very reasonable price.

Another area I wanted my husband to consider, when choosing a ring, was affordability. We wanted to be great stewards of the money he had been able to save, and choosing a colored gemstone would allow us to stay within our means. Despite many of these amazing stones being rare in comparison to the availability of diamonds, they tend to be more reasonable in price. Some might attribute this to the durability of diamonds. However, a closer look will reveal a few reasons why colored gemstones still outshine this known characteristic of diamonds. First, depending on how often one wears a ring or other high-end jewelry, the durability might not matter as much as the beauty of the gemstone, itself. Second, there are many colored gemstones that are very comparable to diamonds on the “mohs” scale. For example, Sapphires and Corundum are considered to have a rating of nine on a scale from one to ten, which is just under that of a diamond. The more one delves into the world of colored gemstones, the more they will unearth lesser known, yet very durable and beautiful gemstones such as the Sphene, rating even higher on the mohs scale than the previously mentioned colored gemstones. Surprisingly, durability does not limit the choice of the stone. There are numerous stones that are equally incredible and unique, found on all ranges of the spectrum.

In selecting the “perfect ring,” or even the perfect piece of jewelry to give as a gift, it is crucial to have the wearer in mind. Too often people choose jewelry based on what everyone else seems to be buying and not enough on how it suits the person who will be wearing it. Personally speaking, what mattered most to me is that my engagement ring meant something significant and personal in our lives, and diamond rings fell short in meeting this significant desire of mine. An engagement ring that incorporated a colored gemstone as the centerpiece would leave the door open for my husband to be both creative and specific in what would be meaningful to us.

These stones can represent so much for an individual, a couple, a family member, or a friend. Even famous individuals, who can afford just about anything, continue to be enthralled and captivated by colored gemstones of all kinds. Jessica Simpson’s engagement ring was centered with a beautiful Ruby stone, representing her birthday, while Elizabeth Hurley’s 9-carrat Sapphire stone represented her fiancé’s birthday. Beyond birthdays, a gem choice could be based on an anniversary month or another special day in a person’s life. It could also just be a stone that is naturally a person’s favorite color. It has the possibility to represent pretty much whatever one’s imagination allows it to. My husband and I considered the green or pink color-change Diaspore, which originates from the same country as my husband, Turkey. Making a ring this personal and unique is seldom with a basic diamond ring.

It is evident that colored gemstones surpass diamonds in virtually every category of selecting a stone. Not only do they have a significantly higher chance of being conflict free, they are more affordable than most diamonds. Despite affordability being a big plus, celebrities and those with specific budgets, alike, find several other reasons to choose colored gemstones over diamonds. They allow a person to stand out amidst a culture filled with replicated diamond rings, making it a stunning conversation piece. It is also an opportunity to purchase something so unique and memorable to the person wearing it.

In bringing this persuasion piece to a close, a few short words are fitting to best summarize why colored gemstones are the palpable choice over diamonds in any intricate piece of high-end jewelry. As the Victorian author and journalist, George Eliot, so eloquently put it, “These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of.”

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