This is a guest post by Elizabeth, who writes for Confessions from a Work at Home Mom. Her engagement ring story is awesome (is her engagement story as good as mine? We’ll have to wait for that post).
This April 9th will mark eight years since the love of my life slipped the perfect engagement ring on my finger, asking me to do him the honor of becoming his wife. Today, for the first time, I’m going to share a secret about that ring known only to my now-husband of almost seven years and our parents.
It all started when my then-boyfriend’s brother proposed to his long-time girlfriend. When she joyfully showed me the new bling on her left hand, I threw up in my own mouth a little. It was hideous. Knowing she liked unique jewelry, my boyfriend’s brother had decided to build a ring on his own, without consulting a professional jeweler first. First of all, no diamond smaller than half a carat should ever be cut into a pear shape. Ever. And while vintage-inspired jewelry is a lovely trend, combining that diamond dust with an ornate band made the ring look mismatched, not antique.
Knowing the kind of taste my boyfriend’s family had in engagement rings, I vowed that – when the time came – I would take the decision out of my boyfriend’s hands entirely. That’s when I began the slow process of orchestrating my entire engagement.
I started my engagement ring shopping – where else? – at Jared. Yes, the Galleria of Jewelers had it all – except a ring my boyfriend could afford. At the time, he was on football scholarship at a major East Coast university, and while his monthly stipend for living expenses supplied him with a lot of hamburgers, beer, and ice cream, it didn’t exactly cover the standard two-months salary of an average engagement ring. I tried visiting smaller jewelers, but continued to find nothing but disappointment behind those glass display cases.
“You don’t need an engagement ring to get engaged,” I told myself and anybody who would listen to my plight. I started urging my boyfriend to propose without a ring; I’d be ok with it, I promised him, and said we could buy a ring for an anniversary down the road, once we were on more stable financial ground.
One day, I meandered into my mother’s favorite jewelry store. The locally-owned small business was way out of my price range – perfect for window shopping and little else. As I lamented my situation to the owner, he said something that would change everything:
“You know,” he started, “You don’t have to buy an actual diamond engagement ring.” Blasphemy! Seeing the obvious shock on my face, the jeweler quickly continued. “There are plenty of diamond substitutes these days that look just like the real thing; we’re not talking about the cheap cubic zirconia of a generation ago.”
From behind the counter, he quickly produced a stunning engagement ring. “How much do you think this ring costs?” he asked me. I knew from the size of the stone alone – easily a carat and a half – that the ring must cost at least $10,000. “Go lower,” he encouraged me. I slashed my estimate in half. “Lower,” he repeated. I continued to cut my guesses until I came to $1,500.
“Bingo,” he said.
I was floored.
And two weeks later, I was engaged.
That’s right, folks. If you’ve read between the lines, you’ve already figured it out: my engagement ring is a fraud. A fake. A faux.
While it looks like a carat and a half, grade E (meaning it’s virtually colorless), flawless princess cut diamond is actually Moissanite, a naturally occurring gemstone first discovered by Dr. Henri Moissan more than a century ago. Today, just about all Moissanite jewelry is man-made in a laboratory. It looks just like a diamond; in fact, because of how it is engineered, it looks better than most diamonds – especially the diamonds my husband could have afforded at the time.
Although I’ve worn my engagement proudly every day in the eight years since, taking it off during the final days of my two pregnancies when my ring finger grew too swollen for it to fit, I’ve never come clean about exactly what it is. When people gush over the brilliance of my ring – with good reason, since a Moissanite has 2.4 times the fire of a diamond – I let them think it was the real thing. When people asked me how much it cost, I coyly replied, “A real lady never tells!” In some ways, I was ashamed that my husband and I were too thrifty to buy an actual diamond.
Over the past year, however, as I’ve become increasingly frugal – and proud of it – I’ve come to embrace my ring’s unique story. I’ve realized that my decision to go with Moissanite wasn’t me being cheap; it was me being frugal, and there’s a crucial difference. I was able to get a ring that looks exactly like I’d always dreamed for exactly the price my husband could afford back in his younger days; how many couples can say that?