Guest Post by the Southerner:
The Venezuelan asked me to write a post detailing the process of creating a cool engagement ring that is meaningful to your relationship. I hope this helps:
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already Googled “Unique Engagement Ring” and seen all the interesting and bizarre options out there. There are more and more of us that don’t want our engagement to be the clichéd “Every kiss begins with Kay,” “He went to Jared,” or “How better else to spend 2 months’ salary.” We also don’t think the fullest extent of being an educated gemstone/diamond buyer (aka: poor cow walking the plank to the industrial, commercialized slaughter) means just knowing the (use sing-song voice in your head) 4 C’s—Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat.
I knew that getting down on one knee and opening a box with a typical bright, sparkly diamond was not how my girlfriend wanted to be proposed to. So, I started off by thinking about other stones. I looked at lots of cool gem-stones, particularly of the red variety. Along the way, I discovered that gemstones were very commonly used as engagement ring decorations up until the Debeers advertising campaign gave rise to the homogeneous enterprise of clear diamonds we have today. The Brits, including the Royal family, haven’t fallen for it. Lady Di got a Sapphire that was later given to Kate. Prince Andrew went with a ruby to highlight his bride-to-be’s red hair.
One issue with gemstones is that many are soft and can easily be scratched or damaged. One jeweler I talked with said, “You know when I think engagement ring, I think longevity, strong, and enduring”…good point! He also pointed out the ring would be worn everyday and needed to be able to take a beating (especially with the Venezuelan). He was a bit surprised when I told him I was looking for a non-diamond engagement ring but then said, “You know you are the second guy this week that has called and said he wanted something different.”
The ruby seemed a good choice. But then I found out that most of the rubies on the market now are “enhanced.” The process involves infusing molten glass into the cracks of the stone. The concern here is that nobody knows exactly how well this is going to hold up over time. I also discovered that you have to pay more than diamond prices for a good natural ruby and it would probably be hard to find one that fit the shape I wanted.
You see, I wanted a dodecahedron. (Note: Skip this paragraph if you truly hate math and geometry) I have always been fascinated with the platonic solids—the tetrahedron (pyramid), cube, tetrahedron, icosahedron, and the dodecahedron. These are geometric solids defined by the simple equation Faces-Edges +Vertices=2. These were thought by the ancients to represent the four elements and the fifth, the dodec, was divine. For many years, I’ve imagined my engagement ring to be cut in the dodec.
How I ended up going with an uncut diamond—first of all it is apparently an extreme waste of money to buy a ruby or a diamond and cut it into a dodec. The flat surfaces do not internally reflect light and will look pretty dull. While researching dodec cut diamonds, I discovered that this is actually their natural shape when coming out of the mine…how cool is that? I also like the symbolism here. My girl is precious, a bit rough around the edges, and refuses to be molded/cut/polished into what commercial society wants her to be. So that was it. I decided on an uncut stone.
The next step was figuring out a setting. While riding our bicycles one day we stopped at a little park by the bay that had a bunch of mangroves next to the water.
I’ve always loved their intricate root system and while looking at them I thought they would make a cool-looking setting. On the way home, the Venezuelan asked me what I was thinking about. Of course I couldn’t say, but it was that we were like the mangrove. The mangrove seeds don’t just plop off the tree and grow right where they land. Instead, they float around in the ocean a while until they find a nice sandy spot that they like and puts their roots down there. If you read this blog, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
So, now I knew what stone to get and drew the general idea of the mangrove-inspired setting I wanted. Time to try to find a jeweler. I found two in St. Pete that looked good. I put on my suit, made up some story about going on a business meeting, and off I went.