Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cubic Zirconias, and why I regret buying a diamond ring…

I have never really understood people who say that they have no regrets, perhaps because I have lots of regrets. I regret all the times I have been unfair or even mean to friends as well as strangers, I regret the fact that I drank too much as a teenager, and I deeply regret having spent a good part of my life watching sunset beach. It seems to me that whoever claims he or she have no regrets is rather naïve. My most recent regret is my engagement ring choice.


At the time when I bought the engagement ring that my fiancé is now wearing, I wanted the most beautiful ring I could find (obviously). I finally settled on a ring made out of white gold with a small ingrained diamond. It is in this that my regret lies. Two factors have made me wish that I had not chosen a diamond ring. The first is the truly excellent Edward Zwick movie, Blood Diamond (see picture), starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Indeed it has all the attributes of a typical Hollywood epic, but it also sends a strong resounding message to the viewer: the diamond industry has caused much suffering in Africa, and it is up to us to make sure that the diamonds that we buy have not contributed to this suffering (by asking in the store for instance). Had I bought my diamond ring today I would have asked about this!


The second reason for my regret I heard in one of Richard A. Muller's terrific lectures. In this lecture (go to 48min) Richard introduces a stone that I had not previously heard about, the Cubic Zirconia (see picture below). This stone, is much less expensive than diamond, and it is not quite as hard as diamond (close though). However, I did not give my girlfriend a diamond because it is expensive or because it is hard, but rather because it is such a beautiful stone, and in this respect Cubic Zirconias actually beat diamonds. What makes a diamond beautiful is its high refractive index. In essence diamonds are good at bending light and therefore we perceive them as beautiful (anyone know why?). The refractive index, which is a measure of how much something bends light, for diamonds and Cubic Zirconias is 0.044 and 0.060 respectively, hence the latter are more beautiful. The diamond industry has protected themselves from this seemingly lethal threat by saying something like "how can you prove to someone you love them if you buy a cheap stone?". To me this is completely beside the point. I want my girlfriend to have the most beautiful ring, not the most expensive one, and when I want to spend money on her, I think I can find better priorities than the second most beautiful stone out there…


So here is my advice to my readers. Don't repeat my mistake. If you want your future fiancé to have the most beautiful ring, then get one with a Cubic Zirconia. If you still insist that the only way to prove your love is to buy an insanely expensive stone, then see to it that it has not cost people their hands…


4 comments:

Z said...

Also... buy carpets from IKEA which are manufactured by machines, not by 10yearolds who are often chained to those looms.
Besides, they get injured, and sometimes lose a finger.

Anonymous said...

The other fraud about diamonds is that they are expensive because they are rare. Only coloured diamonds are rare. The ordinary white diamonds are only expensive because the price is regulated by the de Beers cartel.

Anonymous said...

In the old days cutting a diamonds used to be time consuming,hence the price.But today with all these laser machines I can not understand why the Certified Diamonds prices are still high?!

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