Is a Cheap Engagement Ring always Cheap?

A so called cheap engagement ring doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not quality. Take the case of a Laraci Ethical Fine Jewelers handcrafted Moissanite Engagement Ring. Laraci rings are set with industry leading Charles & Colvard moissanite or Neo gem’s. All of our settings and bands are made of recycled precious metals that would be used in a far more expensive diamond ring but at a fraction of the cost. The only difference in the less expensive ring is the diamonds have been replaced with moissanite.

Moissanite is a lab created, durable, beautiful, colorless or near colorless gem that is staking a real foothold in the engagement ring market. Moissanite resists chipping more than a diamond and out sparkles a diamond by 10%. The added sparkle of a moissanite isn’t enough to give it’s identity away that it’s not a diamond, it’s just enough to make it look like a flawless, rarer, more expensive diamond.

Some people will be proud of their budget friendly engagement ring for the environmentally friendly status while others for the simple fact that they are being fiscally responsible. While this will surely be an individual choice, no matter the reasons for buying a cheap engagement ring, if it’s a Laraci Ethical Engagement Ring be assured that it is of the highest quality and we are positive you will love it a for lifetime.

Not all cheap engagement rings are equal though and we would definitely like to clarify that cubic zirconia and moissanite are not the same thing. Cubic zirconia or CZ as it is often called is a brittle stone that is not suitable for a lifelong everyday ring. While cubic zirconia may look like a diamond or moissanite, it is really only suitable for costume jewelry. CZ scratches easily and can shatter, which would indeed classify it as a truly cheap engagement ring in price and in quality. An interesting fact about CZ, if you were to lay it down over text you can actually see the text through it, making it a real giveaway that it is not a diamond or moissanite.

We might also mention that the markup on a setting with a diamond is generally higher than that of the moissanite setting as well. Even though it may be the exact setting, just due to the fact that the diamond ring is a far higher price overall they are able to inflate the setting price as well. So armed with a little knowledge you can get a cheap engagement ring that’s high quality and beautiful while staying on budget.

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Are Canadian Diamonds Ethical?

You did the ethical thing and bought a Canadian diamond. You think you are free and clear of the conflicts that plaque diamond mining. At first glance this may seem a fairly reasonable assumption. It’s Canada, a first world country, sophisticated, sensible, strong morality, strict laws. You might think differently if you did a bit of    investigative digging.

First off, Canadian mining companies own 75% (and growing) of the world’s mines.  While Canada definitely does have stricter environmental laws and regulations in place than the majority of the world, they are far from perfect as mining is never without irrevocable environmental damage.  The environmental impact of diamond mining is undeniable and perhaps because it’s Canada one assumes the humanitarian part of the equation doesn’t exist but that would be incorrect to a degree.

Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada

The majority of Canadian mines are on indigenous First Nation’s land and the development of a mine always divides a village as their heritage is strongly steeped in the traditions of their land.  While many of the indigenous people welcome the job’s and the mining companies  bribes of modern recreation centers and other such facilities, for sure they are not welcomed by all. Along with the modernizing of their villages often comes the adversities of increased crime, sexual assaults, sex trade workers and drug and alcohol abuse.

When in other countries these Canadian mining companies follow the rules of that country. Unfortunately and predictably many of these countries have very few or very lax regulations.  Most of these countries are poor and many have corruption in their governments which allow these mining companies to come in and exploit the locals. Meanwhile, the governments share in the billions of dollars generated from mining but rarely is it put back into the infrastructure or sustainability of these villages. In the few places where the government steps in and asks for accommodations for their people, to better their villages, the mining company will agree but the local governments don’t have the clout to enforce on the reneged promises. What happens more often is the villagers are exploited and left with a mess to clean up. The villages are poor and cannot possibly clean up the toxic waste these mining companies leave behind. Quite often toxic still waters become breeding grounds for Malaria or drinking water for wildlife that may wander back into the area, with dire consequences. All to often though, the land is so polluted that nothing grows or lives on it.

The nature of mining is destructive to the ecology of any area.  The breaking and crushing of rock disperses heavy metals into the air – lead, mercury, arsenic, zinc and cadmium and in the case of gold mining, cyanide.  These heavy metals deposit on farmlands and in drinking water as well as being breathed in by the locals.  The health risks are many and can lead to lifelong health issue.  Poisoning that can lead to blood transfusions, amputations and sometimes result in death.  Children are the most susceptible to illness and toxic poisoning, with their health and mental acuity declining each year.  The locals cannot escape the toxins, it pollutes their rivers where they fish for their livelihood and their own food – the fish die off leaving then unable to sustain themselves and their families with “tainted” fish.  The vegetation they grow is dusted with heavy metals as well as the soil it grows in, if it still grows at all.  (You may want to check where your seafood and rice originate).  Often these mines are in areas where locals rely on the biodiversity of their area.  This is also largely true for the indigenous people in Canada.

2015 Gold King Mine Waste Water Spill

For us, the origin of a diamond doesn’t make it ethical if that same company allows and contributes to atrocities in other countries. So, while your diamond may be Canadian, the mining company that dug it out of the ground is also digging diamonds elsewhere and at the end of the day those profits all go into the same pocket.  For an in depth education on Canadian Diamonds one just needs to Google “Canadian mining companies”, you don’t even need to add atrocities, they just go hand in hand. If you truly want an ethical diamond, why not make it a lab created diamond? The same properties as a diamond without all of the conflict.

Health & Safety Risks associated with Contemporary Alternative Metal Wedding Bands

We have been asked several times if we carry alternative metal wedding bands ie: tungsten, stainless steel, titanium and cobalt. Or, if we can custom make rings out of these metals. While we can appreciate the look of this trend, it is not one we believe to be suitable for wedding bands for several reasons. For us at Laraci Ethical Jewelers our first and foremost concern is always the ecology of our our planet but in this case we are also deeply concerned about the safety issues of these alternative metal bands as well.

If you were to go into you local Emergency room with an injury to your hand or finger and your ring needed to be removed, these alternative metals can prove very problematic. The majority of modern urban hospitals will have a diamond tipped saw to remove the more standard silver, gold or platinum rings in about 10 seconds and around 1 minute for titanium and stainless steel. Unfortunately, these saws are rendered virtually useless with tungsten, taking 10 minutes to cut through the strongest metal on the planet (5 minutes of cutting with 5 minutes of cooling the saw intermittently). If you are in the ER you know that time is of the essence and the 10 minutes it would take to remove a tungsten band may not be an option. The cobalt ring cannot be cut, it needs to be shattered off with vice grips which could cause even further damage if the ring implodes causing possible nerve damage to your finger.

You may not think you would ever be in this situation, you don’t work with power tools etc but sometimes accidents happen. If you were to sustain major injuries and your finger was the least of your injuries and they had to spend more than 10 seconds cutting your ring off… we shudder to think. We don’t want to get to graphic here. we just want to give you pause for serious thought – life happens. It could be something as simple as a bee or wasp sting causing swelling to the hand and your ring is cutting off circulation so It needs to be removed in a timely manner (in 10 minutes without circulation you could start to sustain serious nerve damage to your finger).

We don’t ever think that these things are going to happen to us but they happen to people all of the time and for us, the risk is just not worth the trend.

There are a few other concerns we have with these alternative metal wedding bands. These metals are intended for a more industrial purpose and not necessarily suitable for wear. Cobalt is a known carcinogen and we worry about it’s properties leaching into the wearer’s bloodstream through the skin. We have the same concerns for titanium which is a heavy metal and could lead to heavy metal toxicity over time. Heavy metal toxicity is linked to many of today’s health issues, too many for us to accept these wedding rings as a viable option.

One more thought, statistics tell us that the average person has their wedding rings resized at least once in their lifetime. For most, the wedding band is sacred, signifying the bond, the promise you have made to each other and that particular ring is “the ring” and is not a throw away ring. However, in the case of all of these alternative metal wedding bands they are not resizable so would need to be replaced. Just one more negative in the long list.

*Worth noting: Some women’s eternity bands also pose similar problems if entirely encrusted with back to back gems

Jewelers and Moissanite Engagement Rings

“My jeweler showed me a Moissanite engagement ring upon my request but discredited it quickly and steered me to a diamond. Why? What’s the matter with Moissanite?”

We hear this often and the simple answer is nothing is wrong with Moissanite. Your jeweler doesn’t make near as much money from selling you a Moissanite gem as he does from selling you a diamond.  The markup on a diamond is approximately 100% or more,whereas Moissanite, because of its much lower price doesn’t bring in the same revenue for your salesperson. If pressed about the virtues of a Moissanite gem, its durability, its sparkle and now colorless status, your jeweler would have a very hard time to refute it.

To a degree I understand, its tough these days for most brick and mortar stores to compete with online vendors but its a bit odd (and frankly, dishonest) to vehemently discredit Moissanite to keep your sales of diamonds up. It’s better to be honest and recognize that there is an audience for both stones.

We had an interesting experience when we first were shopping for our engagement ring which is where this whole Moissanite journey began. We went into a local jewelry store on a bright sunny day with the hopes of being able to take the Moissanite ring out onto the street and out of the dazzling jewelry store lights. The sales lady was very lovely and obliging as she brought out a 1ct near colorless diamond solitaire and an equal size Moissanite solitaire ring. She presented the seemingly identical rings and asked us to identify which was the diamond. My then fiancé and I pointed to the stone that was the most beautiful. It turned out we both pointed to the moissanite ring! This was very interesting to us as my fiancé had been in the diamond business in the past. After reading several articles about Moissanite written on diamond jewelers sites and diamond jewelers blogs discrediting Moissanite we were expecting it too look so much less beautiful than a diamond but the opposite was true! Of course the diamond looked beautiful as well but in every way the Moissanite simply looked better to us: clearer, brighter, more sparkle. It just looked like a better,more expensive diamond.

I still needed to step outside though, to get out of the jewelry store lights that give even the saddest stones sparkle. I offered to leave my wallet with a whopping $60 in it, my car keys and my fiancé (priceless) as collateral. To my surprise she allowed me to take both rings out to the sunny sidewalk without hesitation. Equipped with both rings and reading glasses I headed out, unequivocally, the Moissanite engagement ring was still my favorite. What I found was the Moissanite sparkled like a diamond does when you are under the jewelry store’s sparkle lights, but the diamond never really looks like that in natural light. Just to make sure I liked it more I turned away from the window, out of her view and I pulled my jeweler’s loupe out of my pocket to inspect further and much, much closer. The Moissanite was clean and clear of any visible inclusions, things were not so bright for the diamond. I know some jewelers are going to say “Well, it probably wasn’t a very good quality diamond and especially if she was allowed to leave the store with it.” As I mentioned before, the diamond was near colorless, which gave it a high price tag – if I recall it was just north of $12,000. The truth of the matter is, diamonds just aren’t worth their price tag. The reason most believe a diamond is the necessary stone for an engagement ring is marketing and marketing is based on the seller making a profit and that is what this whole article is based on. If you want to read about who started the diamond engagement ring tradition click here. To hear the end of this story, read on…

I came back into the jewelry store to pass the rings and glasses to my fiancé so he could head out of the store and out in to the natural light on the sidewalk. To my surprise the sales lady allowed us both to head outside together with the rings. This was a tremendous opportunity to be able to discuss the pros and cons of each stone while presently holding them both. I was very interested to get my fiancés opinion as he is the expert on diamonds. After he looked with the jewelers loupe, he too was even more positive that he liked the Moissanite better. The diamond for sure was beautiful and sparkley but the Moissanite was just prettier to us in every way. I was convinced that this would be the stone for my engagement ring.

Because of my fiancés involvement in owning a diamond business prior we had gone into the jewelry store with a bit of an idea that we would possibly do a Moissanite website if the Moissanite was visually comparable to a diamond. It certainly was and beyond. We left that store that day knowing we would be embarking on a new journey.

To my dismay though, I did find out after we left that while the sales lady was lovely to my face and appreciative of my desire to save the ecology of the planet by NOT choosing a diamond or any other mined gem, she was a little more forthcoming to my fiancé about her actual opinion. She suggested to my fiancé that we could start out with a Moissanite engagement ring and save for a “real diamond engagement ring” and that “no one would know the difference” WHAT?!!! Two thoughts came to my mind right away: 1) If no one would know the difference if we swapped out the moissanite for a diamond later, then no one would think we didn’t have a diamond to begin with
AND 2) Hey!! How rude! We rolled up in a nice ride, we are in our 40’s, we weren’t dressed in rags. Maybe it was my comment about only having $60 bucks in my wallet…get with it lady, nobody carries cash these days! So it’s far more likely that the markup on a Moissanite was just not enough for her bottom line so she thought she would try to humiliate and belittle my fiancé about his possible lack of finances and/or devotion to me by being stingy. Quite bold and brash of her but sadly this making people feel less than adequate tactic works on far too many consumers.

For us we weren’t trying to pass a Moissanite engagement ring off as a diamond or necessarily save money but we are ecstatic that we were able to do both while helping with the ecology of our beautiful planet. Many people do want to pass their Moissanite ring off as a diamond and you will get no judgement from us, we are delighted that there is an alternative stone that has the ability to do this and we are happy to assist you in selecting that perfect engagement ring. And for those who consciously choose a Moissanite engagement ring for the purpose of preserving the ecology of our planet and want to promote the fact that they chose Moissanite, we are happy to stand with you. Either way, it’s a win win.

Oh, and BTW, I went up a carat size cuz well…why not?! I love my Moissanite engagement ring and I want it to be noticed and it absolutely is, everyday. It gives me an opportunity to sing the praises of Moissanite and educate one person at a time…who, I hope in turn will tell others. This my friends is the power of one! Here’s hoping you choose the right engagement ring for you and not the right ring for your sales person.

As always, we are here to help you with any Moissanite queries you may have.