Saturday, October 08, 2005

Diamonds are Forever

Man made diamonds! Whee!

I love stories like this one. Anything that knocks the DeBeers monopoly on its collective arse makes me smile. I've followed the
stories of Gemesis and Apollo for about three years now, and personally? I can't wait to buy my first cultured diamond-conflict-safe, blood-free, and flawless.

Synthetic diamonds... that sounds so awful. I prefer the "cultured diamond" term. After all, they ARE diamonds- chemically and physiologically. Only nobody died or was mutilated to get them to market, and their price will be market dictated, rather than the result of some monopolistic cartel.

The ornithophobe, she likes the sparkly; oh yes she does. I've got a nice collection of shiny diamonds and emeralds (as emeralds are my favourite stone) and I wear them daily. But years ago, I realised I was not so interested in where my stone came from- not nearly so much as I was in what it looked like. The result was my one carat man made emerald solitaire. I love this thing. I looked everywhere for a "natural" emerald ring with this level of colour and clarity. It did not exist for less than ten thousand dollars. Yet for about six hundred, I could have perfect dark green shimmer, surrounded by tiny diamonds, in fourteen karat gold - If I was willing to accept a manufactured emerald. Well- duh! Sign me up, baby! I embrace the wonders of the technological age!

For me, jewelry is not investment, it is ornament. I know my diamonds aren't worth much to a pawnbroker. I buy shinies because I LIKE shinies. I like colour, and glitter, and shimmer. And for years I've sated my guilt about the evils of the diamond trade and indulged my passion for the past at the same time, by buying used, buying vintage. And along the way? I discovered something. I don't LIKE modern diamonds. I don't like brilliant cuts, don't care for the spartan settings. I hate white gold, and platinum. I like the softer glow of old diamonds. But most of all, I love the ornate filigree and dainty delicacy of victorian, the interesting shapes and designs of deco. I positively LOVE antique jewelry. I love that when someone notices the rings on my fingers, and they inevitably go, "Wherever did you find that?"... that I can smugly say "It's vintage. It's antique." I love that I never run into anyone else wearing the same jewelry I have on.

You can walk into any jeweler in the country and find exactly the same styles of jewelry in each one. Open a bridal magazine and examine the ring ads: they're all basically the same thing. And if your friends show you their engagement ring, the first thing they'll talk about is the size of the stone. Bigger seems to be seen as better. But I'm not sure it always is. Beyond Cut, Colour, and Clarity, is something infitely less easy to calculate... character. I like a stone with history, I like a stone with a story.

When I don my late Mamau's engagement ring, it never fails to draw attention. The filigree setting, the soft white glow in burnished gold; it is unique. In all my life, I've yet to find another one like it. And whenever I look at it, I think of my mamau. I picture her gnarled little hands, washing dishes, peeling potatoes, sewing my dresses, bandaging my wounds. I see the glint and sparkle and it connects me at once to something so much more precious than any monetary quantity.

So yeah- diamonds ARE forever. But only if you're making memories with them. If you're not, they're just another rock.

And on the subject of memorial diamonds? How cool is this? I can think of a few people who'd make lovely tributes to wear on my hand. In particular? I think my ex-husband would make a fabulous fashion accessory. He'd be so much more useful in death than he has ever been in life!

1 comment:

TPK said...

as emeralds are my favourite stone

You too, huh? I have a couple of small ones in my wedding ring, and people are always asking me whether it's my birthstone. I'm pretty sure these were also lab-created since they're so clear and dark--just the way I like them.

Let's see, I can pay top dollar for "natural" stones with cracks and flaws, or I can pay a relative pittance for dark, near-perfect "cultured" stones that were made in a controlled environment. You're right; it's a no-brainer.