I could pay off my two lowest-balance store cards.
No. Wait. If we include all the times the first guy asked me after he took it back, mid-planning-the-wedding, I could pay off my third store card.
What have we learned so far?
- Scraps has been proposed to lots. (6 engagements before I was 26)
- Scraps recently totaled up her credit card debt. Ouch. (I can’t be the only one who glances at the account balance and concentrates on the available credit, right?)
And even the guys that didn’t propose, they liked to give out jewelry. Several of them liked rings, especially, and up until a recent purge of my bauble collection, I had all of them stored away.
I have a motto: Why waste good jewelry?
Of course, what makes a ring “good” or not, is largely a matter of taste.
Growing up, I wasn’t the girl who fantasized about her wedding as much as I knew what sort (or shape) of diamond I wanted. Not something too fancy, a simple solitaire in a marquise shape on a gold band and I would be a happy girl.
The first of those engagement rings I received? Pear-shaped.
It wasn’t quite right, and neither was the boy. Though I wouldn’t believe it for quite some time and a repeat of the situation. Weren’t we all that way, once?
I did get that marquise-shaped diamond, eventually. Still have it, in fact, and one of these days I might get around to having it reset in something I’ll be able to wear.
Repeat after me: Why waste good jewelry?
But these days not only am I less enamored of diamonds in general (though, being my birthstone, it’s never a truly bad choice) but the “little boat” shape of the marquise does very little for me. In fact, I seem to be gravitating more to a square-shaped stones (maybe because it’s a shape not currently in my personal inventory).
Thinking Outside the Diamond
Thanks to DeBeers, a diamond is what most people expect when marriage is on the table and, let’s face it, society is changing butÂ the engagement/wedding ring is still the most important piece of jewelry in many a girl’s life.
But there are options, ladies, and some worth serious consideration–even if you’re shopping for yourself, just because. We’re going to borrow those 4 c’s of diamond selection and take a walk on the wilder side of finger-wear.
Cut: Not the Same as Shape, But Who Cares?
In diamonds, cut refers to the number of planes and surfaces on the finished stone and is incredibly regimented. If you’re not shopping for a faceted stone or a major investment, cut isn’t going to matter as much to you as the shape.
Do you know what makes some of those stones so expensive? (Besides, of course, the marketing campaigns that convince us certain stones are “acceptable” and others aren’t.) The amount of work that goes into them (number of cuts) and the risk taken every time a cut is made–all that risk and money to take parts of it away!
That’s why, if you want more bang for your buck, looking at less-processed stones may fit your bill. You can find many semi-precious stones in all the major shapes (round, square, pear/teardrop, marquise, oval, etc.) as well as in unfinished states.
Color: All the Rainbow and Then Some!
While diamonds do come in other colors than white/clear (I’ve been known to drool over those chocolate diamonds, myself), they’re not as common as the clear version. With so many other options out there it seems almost foolhardy to limit yourself to just one stone.
Aside from the color of the stone(s), let’s talk about the settings and bands, as well. Gold and silver are your basics, with platinum making up the holy metal trinity. I used to wear gold pretty much all the time (and there used to be a rule about not mixing gold and silver but I think most folks ignore that these days) but something always bugged me:Â I could see the difference in color between 10K, 14K and 18K yellow gold.
And they clashed.
So I switched, several years back, to all silver (or white gold), all time time. Because sterling silver has pretty much one designation if it’s worth wearing: .925 and it all looks the same.
And, too, for the buyer on a budget, silver prices remain much more reasonable compared to the wildly escalating gold market.
Clarity: Know What You Want and Why
Again, in diamonds, clarity is a specific measure of the “identifying characteristics” of the stone–namely blemishes (outside) and inclusions (inside). And, of course, the fewer flaws the more valuable it is because the more rare is it.
But everyone has flaws, why shouldn’t our jewelry?
Those so-called “flaws” are what make us unique and a few inclusions here and a scuff or two there show a stone that is worn and loved and has been through a life.
Take my mainstay ring: the big teardrop lapis lazuli. Pyrite (fools gold) is a part of all lapis but many jewelers try to minimize the amount present. When I shop for pieces for myself, I’m on the lookout for the pyrite streaks–they show me it’s less likely to be a fake if present–and the deepest blue I can find.
I want a ring with some character, one I’m not afraid to wear for fear of messing it up. Kinda like the people I surround myself with: they’re all characters!
Carat: Size Matters, Am I Right?
Ah, the old quantity vs quality debate.
I think miniatures are amazing, truly breathtaking when done well. But small stones? Those chips are hardly worth the money you pay to have them set.
Those little diamond chips you see in some jewelry? Each one is a point (roughly 1/100 of a carat) and their resale value is absolutely pitiful. They don’t even sparkle enough on their own, they haveÂ to be set with plenty light-reflecting material around it to give the illusion of more carats than are really pleasant.
As much as I appreciate delicate craftsmanship, when I’m looking for a ring I’m looking to make a statement so I want something with a little size to it–either the stone or the setting or both. This is why I love that cocktail rings have come back in style in a big way.
Rings on Paper
For those of you who know I draw comics, too, you probably won’t be surprised that I made a comic (though not a mockery) of my ring-centric history with men. To understand just how I ended up so many proposals (but only 2 marriages and the divorces to match) and why Todd was told (in no uncertain terms) to never buy me a ring, head over to Cocktail Hour to read Rings on Her Fingers.
And, for those of you who’d like a signed copy of that story (professionally printed, 24 pages plus cover, I have about 16 in stock and no immediate plans for another print run) I’d be more than happy to sell you one. They are $5, payable by PayPal, and include mailing.
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