Why Diamond Rings Remain Popular for Engagement Ring Settings Around the World
Even though South Africa has many diamond mines, that is not the reason for the popularity of diamond rings in the country. Below are a few reasons why diamonds are the preferred stones for engagement rings not only in South Africa, but around the world.
Exceptional Strength and Durability
As the hardest natural substance on earth, the only thing in the world that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. Indeed, diamond is used in the cutters that cut these gemstones. Diamonds were used as engraving tools in ancient India and are still used today for similar purposes.
One-of-a-kind Crystal Structure
Made up of carbon only and formed under tremendous pressure and high temperatures, a unique bonding process takes place, which leads to the specific crystal structure of the gemstone.
Diamonds are not called gemstones for nothing. Diamonds are formed deep under the earth’s crust. Volcanic activity had brought the gemstones closer to the surface and in many instances, you can find diamonds above the surface. Although thousands of diamonds are mined annually, only 20% can be used for jewellery such as engagement rings. To get a single one-carat diamond, it is necessary to move over 240 tonnes of earth. The mining process is therefore very expensive. Only a fifth of diamonds is suited to further cutting and working to eventually get the beautiful gemstones suitable for rings. About 40-55% of the diamond’s weight is lost during the cutting process, so it is not difficult to understand why it is an expensive and appreciated stone for any type of jewellery.
Though a diamond can burn if the temperature is high enough, it will not be affected by natural elements, unless it is exposed to extreme heat from, for instance, a house or building fire. If you are looking for the perfect engagement ring that can eventually become an heirloom item then a diamond ring is the answer. The diamond will keep its beauty and can thus be considered a symbol of commitment that will last a lifetime.
Other Interesting Facts
The Romans believed that diamonds could ward off evil whilst in other cultures diamonds represented strength and invincibility. Indeed, the word diamond comes from a Greek word that means invincible.
Symbol of Romance
The romantic connotation can be traced back to ancient Rome where they also believed that Cupid’s arrows were dipped in diamond tears. The engagement ring, even in South Africa, is still worn on the left hand and on the second finger from left. This tradition has its roots in the belief that the left hand has to do with sinister elements and thus wearing the ring on the left hand is what helps to ward off evil. It also has to do with the belief that the ring finger is connected via a vein to the heart. In the Middle Ages people from European cultures even wore diamond jewellery for healing purposes.
Preferred Stone for Kings and Queens
Though South Africa is perhaps the best known for diamond mining, the stones are also mined in countries such as India, Russia, Botswana, and Angola, to name only a few. The world-famous Cullinan Diamond is South Africa. Known as the “Star of Africa”, it now forms part of the Queen of England’s royal jewellery. In France at once stage only the King was allowed to wear diamond jewellery.
Regardless of all the superstition and myths, diamonds are certainly worthy symbols of endurance, strength, and love. Kings, queens and ordinary people find joy in having diamonds as part of their jewellery.
How to Choose the Metal for an Engagement Ring
Finding the best metal for an engagement ring is as important as selecting the overall style, the gemstone and the setting. However, when you do a Google Voice Search for “engagement ring near me” or “engagement rings Cape Town” you may locate only conventional jewellery stores where your choices are limited and where you most probably will not get all the information you need to make an informed buying decision.
The best option is to shop online and at sites such as Naturally Diamonds’ where you can obtain useful information and order your engagement ring whether you stay in Johannesburg or Cape Town. Moreover, we provide a straightforward guide on helping you to decide on the metal for the ring.
Choose According to her Lifestyle and Jewellery Preferences
Look at her current jewellery choices. Does she prefer warmer hues such as yellow or rose gold or does she prefer the silver coloured metals such as platinum of white gold? If she normally wears yellow or rose gold earrings or bracelets, then she most probably will appreciate an engagement ring that fits her overall preference for warmer hues.
It does not, however, mean that you have to stick to one metal. Many people wear gold and silver coloured jewellery together or do not have a set preference for the cooler or warmer hues. In this instance, you can consider a combination of yellow and white gold as it will enable her to wear the ring with all her jewellery. The band can be yellow gold with the diamond setting being white gold or platinum to give it a unique appearance that is also practical.
Practicality is Essential
The metal choice should be sensible. Each type of metal has its advantages and disadvantages in this regard. Platinum, for instance, bends on a direct hit. This means the platinum ring will not be damaged easily, but if the prongs bend away in response to a direct hit, the diamond may become loose and you will have to take the ring to a jeweller to have it fixed. White or yellow gold, on the other hand, may dent at such a hit, but the gemstone will stay in place.
Platinum becomes dull over time because of scratches, so regular polishing is recommended. White gold is treated with rhodium and you must have it plated annually or bi-annually to keep its shine. Tungsten is difficult to rework and if the ring is damaged it can be expensive to repair. Palladium has beauty similar to that of platinum, but is cheaper. Yellow gold needs polishing to keep it looking great for years to come.
White gold is beautiful, but if your bride is likely to work with harsh chemicals from time to time, it is not the best option as the chemicals can easily damage it. Palladium, because it is not yet widely used in the making of engagement rings, is also on the more expensive side. Not many jewellers have experience in working with the metal and if the ring is damaged it can be difficult to find someone skilled enough to repair it satisfactorily.
Yellow and white gold, as well as palladium and tungsten, are more affordable than platinum, but platinum requires less maintenance. If your initial budget does not allow for platinum then consider one of the other metals. If long-term low maintenance is a priority, it may be worth your while to save up to buy the platinum ring.
When buying from Naturally Diamonds, whether you live in Cape Town, Pretoria or any other town in South Africa, you have more choices. Moreover, because we have the expertise to work with the various metals, you can be assured of top quality workmanship.
The Story of the Wedding Ring
Though diamond wedding rings now available through Naturally Diamonds in Cape Town and Johannesburg are still a rather new trend, as opposed to the conventional plain wedding band, the uniqueness of these rings is undisputed. Whether you prefer the more traditional or the modern diamond wedding rings, the wearing of a ring to show commitment to one’s partner has a long history. The first recording of wedding rings goes as far back as Ancient Egypt. The rings were not made from precious metals as is the custom today. Instead, the women wore braided papyrus rings. The symbolic meaning of the ring at that time was eternity, and given the symbolic meaning of diamonds as being forever, we can see why diamonds are now being used in wedding bands.
But, many people simply look at the endless band as depicting eternity. For the Egyptians, the hidden meaning lied in the hole through which the finger goes. This hole in the band symbolised a gateway to eternal knowledge and with that the ring received its deep-seated meaning as a gesture of commitment to one another for eternity. Understandably, papyrus wasn’t the strongest of materials and the people looked for an alternative to truly represent eternal commitment. Soon, people discovered that animal bone and ivory made perfect wedding bands. With durability and beauty gained, the wedding ring soon became a status symbol. The richer couples had ivory rings, the middle class wore bone rings and the poorer people had to settle for the less durable papyrus or leather wedding rings.
Years later, during the rise of the Roman Empire, brides lost some of their freedom and it became apparent how society changed. The Romans added an additional meaning to the wedding ring: it would symbolise ownership, the bride belonging to the husband. Iron replaced bone and ivory and this was the first time metal was used in the wedding ring. The Romans did not add the diamond settings; instead, they opted for engraving on the ring, a custom still followed with engraving on the inside of the ring.
The idea of a wedding ring was new to the Christians. The first recording of it was during the 800s. Detail was important at that stage, so their ring designs were exceptionally complex and the engravings elaborate. Half a millennium later, the Church frowned upon the custom of rings and rejected them as heathen in origin. Christians toned down their wedding ceremonies for a time and engraving joining hearts became popular. The Church might have been somewhat harsh, but one can understand their perception at the time, since the Romans believed that the ring finger was connected to the Vena Amoris vein, which they believed was the vein to the heart and thus love. Today, people hardly think about hidden symbolism and the diamond wedding ring simply means commitment forever. It is a declaration of love and no longer a symbol of ownership.
The ring is still worn on the left hand’s fourth finger, but more out of custom than a belief system. It is doubtful that it will scare off evil spirits and the left hand is chosen simply because most people are right-handed and the ring is less likely to cause inconvenience when worn on the left hand. Fortunately, people no longer have the superstition that obtaining a part of the bride’s wedding gown or even her ring will bring good luck. In an attempt to prevent wedding followers from ripping the bride’s dress or stealing her ring, the custom developed of throwing a bouquet of flowers at the unwedded. This tradition is still popular today, though more as a fun activity than a way of getting good luck or hopefully assuring that you getting married next.
Diamonds still represent eternal commitment and, when added to the wedding band, serve as confirmation of eternal love.
Diamonds are still the most popular gemstones for engagement rings in South Africa. However, the choice of metal for the engagement ring may not be as straightforward since several options are available. Yellow gold, until very recently, has been the number one choice when it comes to wedding and engagement rings.
South Africa is a country rich in minerals, ensuring that you have more choices with yellow gold, platinum and white gold amongst the most popular metals used in engagement jewellery. Your selection at the end of the day will be based on preference for one metal, but we have shared some information on the most popular metals to help you make an informed decision based on practicality, aesthetic appeal, your budget, maintenance requirements and durability, rather than just tradition.
If you are looking for a durable metal that does not tarnish then platinum is for you. In addition, the metal does not corrode. Indeed, it tends to become even more beautiful as it ages, much like a bottle of good wine that acquires character as time passes.
If, however, you want a lighter ring on your finger then gold is the answer as platinum weighs between 40 to 60 per cent more than gold. Because it is so dense, it is also exceptionally strong and will therefore not dent easily in addition to the metal offering a rather secure setting for the precious centrepiece of the ring. That being said, platinum is not entirely scratchproof and if it is not properly maintained, it will eventually become dull in appearance because of scratches that it has sustained.
The metal has hypoallergenic qualities, but because it is also more difficult to work with than gold and is not as commonplace, it is often also a more expensive option for engagement rings. To keep the platinum ring shiny you will need to have it polished regularly.
If you are looking for the same elegance, but do not want to pay the high price associated with platinum rings in South Africa, white gold is a good choice. You should note that white gold starts out as yellow gold; it gets its white appearance from the combination with various alloys. Rhodium plating is applied at the end of the process and you may need to have it applied annually or bi-annually to ensure that the metal maintains its beautiful lustre. However, white gold takes longer to become dull in appearance than platinum.
Though it is the more conventional choice, yellow gold remains popular because of its unique colour. It being a rather versatile metal, yellow gold is well suited for usage in jewellery. Pure gold cannot be used for making jewellery because it is simply too soft. The solution is to have it combined with various alloys to make it stronger. Most rings come in 14K or 18K gold and although you can find 22K gold rings, they are only recommended if you are not likely to work in an environment where the ring can be damaged easily. The 18K indicates that 75% of the metal consists of gold and 14K indicates that gold makes up 58% of the metal. The other metals consist of copper, zinc, silver and nickel to add strength. The 14K gold is lighter yellow with the 22K gold having a rich deep yellow colour. Yellow gold has a warm feel to it, which is why so many brides still prefer the more traditional yellow gold for their engagement rings.
You will find that we can cater to your engagement ring design, gemstone, setting and metal choices to ensure you have the ring of your dreams.
As far back as 1477, the creative Archduke Maxmillian led the way for the popular trend of presenting diamond rings as engagement rings for women. The ring he presented to Mary of Burgundy was set in a traditional yellow gold band, with a unique setting in which diamonds were used to display the letter M.
Engagement rings for women are now an accepted custom, but the choices of metals, diamonds and settings have increased, ensuring that you can give her a unique ring that she will appreciate. Let us have a look at the popular recent choices and trends to provide some inspiration.
From Round to Square
The square bands, though more popular for male wedding bands, are now also used in female engagement ring styles. Brides have reported exceptional comfort with no pinching experienced.
Ergonomics are Important
Though beauty and elegance are still the first priority for women’s engagement rings, brides no longer accept suffering for the sake of beauty. They do not want designs that cause pinching of the skin, discomfort because of the metal rubbing against the adjacent fingers and they are not happy with rings that feel very heavy. The designers of today focus on ergonomics to ensure that the rings are equally beautiful and comfortable.
Think 9-D movies and you get the idea of what the side-detailed ring looks like. With these designs it is possible to ensure amazing detail and elegance regardless of whether you look at the ring from the top, front or side.
Lush flower-filled gardens have always inspired romance, but even more so today with a growing popularity in designs that include scrollwork of vines and petals in the settings.
Vintage is Back
Brides now often look at older designs stemming from the Victorian period for rings that can be passed down the family line. Of course, modern design techniques allow for a fusion of the vintage looks with modern features.
Brides wanting more diamonds on their fingers love the double bands of diamonds, giving an exceptionally bright and sparkling appearance.
If you are not satisfied with a single band engagement ring, the new trend of two bands interlocking on the same finger is for you. Another trend worth noting is the twisting bands with some even more adventurous in their design choices, using two different metals twisted to form a single band for a one-of-a-kind dimension.
Rose Gold Band
Though rose gold bands have been used in the past, the trend almost completely disappeared. However, you can expect it to make a comeback, which will certainly benefit the women who want an especially feminine-looking ring.
Mixing the Metals
Instead of using only one type of metal for the prongs, brides may opt for a combination of yellow gold and platinum prongs.
Less is More
No longer do you have to opt for the biggest diamond you can get. Discreet and delicate settings are back for the brides looking for subtlety. These designs are especially well suited to brides with slim and small hands.
White, blue and light yellow are the most popular diamonds used in engagement rings for women and will maintain their popularity in the years to come. However, for the unconventional bride there are now options such as black and pink diamonds, though rather rare. Tanzanite, sapphires and rubies have also become popular for usage in engagement ring settings.
Horizontal Oval Setting
Having an oval-cut diamond is certainly unique, but if you set it horizontally rather than the north-south way it makes a statement that will inspire.
More couples now sit together and design their dream rings. With companies such as Naturally Diamonds making it possible to choose from the metal to the diamond and the design, people are able to create their own unique and personalised engagement rings.