Traditions in weddings are changing before it even gets to planning the big day, with couples switching up the ways in which they pick and purchase the all-important engagement ring – the very first step in the wedded journey.
While the popular protocol of the man choosing an engagement ring to surprise their other half still carriers an air of romance, ethical concerns and personal preferences are leading to an increasing amount of millennial couples opting for a diamond ring that is less harmful to the environment and more in-line with their own individual style.
As such we’re chatting to industry leader in lab-grown diamonds Clean Origin, on the blog today to discover more about the future of diamond engagement rings, with a focus on how ethical alternatives are rising in demand, and the clever methods used to produce these sensitive sparklers.
Furthermore, though the only difference between the lab-grown and mined diamonds is where they were formed, with both undergoing the same grading and certification process, the environmentally friendly gems carry a less expensive price tag, giving you clued-up millennials more to spend on the wedding and honeymoon!
Can you give us an overview of Clean Origin and what it offers to couples?
Clean Origin say: Clean Origin was founded in 2017 by Alexander Weindling (third-generation diamond merchant and former global managing director for Georg Jensen), Ryan Bonifacino (former chief marketing officer and digital vice president of Alex and Ani), and Terry Burman (former CEO for Signet Jewellers, Sterling Jewellers and chairman Zale Corporation). In just two years, it has become an industry leader in the lab-grown diamond industry and a go-to source for millennial’s man-made jewellery and top-notch customer service. The motivation behind Clean Origin was simple: being on the right side of history.
How have engagement rings changed over time in style and materials?
The history of engagement rings dates back to the 1400s. However, the most pivotal moment in history for diamond engagement rings happened in 1888 when De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. was created and in the early 1940s started the ad campaign “A Diamond is Forever”. Since then, they have monopolised the diamond industry and encouraged men to spend up to three months’ salary on an engagement ring.
Since then, in terms of style, engagement rings have changed quite a bit decade to decade. Most notably:
- 1960s: Jackie Kennedy’s fashion influence encouraged the trend of coloured gemstones in engagement rings.
- 1970s: emerald and princess shaped diamonds become more popular. As well as bridal sets — engagement ring and matching wedding band.
- 1980s: yellow gold engagement rings mixed with fancy shaped diamonds, particularly pears
- 1990s: white gold and platinum make their entrance
- 2000s: continued popularity of white gold and platinum. Additionally, simplicity came back in style with solitaire rings becoming widely popular.
- 2010s: cushion-cut diamonds, rose gold metals and lab-grown diamonds
What is the millennial generation looking for in an engagement ring and why?
Millennials have two things in mind when it comes to an engagement ring: cost and ethics. This generation, unfortunately, is crippled with much more debt and, on average, earning much less and paying a higher cost of living than their predating generations. They also see a higher value in experiences vs ‘things’. They’re more likely to plan a better honeymoon than spend a fortune on a ring. With the green revolution on the rise, along with our temperatures, millennials are also constantly searching for ways to make an impact. As more and more information about the diamond mining industry becomes common-knowledge, couples are looking for a more ethical alternative.
Can you tell us about lab grown diamonds and how they are produced?
There are two processes labs use to grow diamonds – High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).HPHT diamonds are made by creating an environment of extremely high pressure and temperature conducive to diamond growth. An HPHT diamond begins as a small diamond seed that is placed into carbon. The seed is exposed to temperatures of about 1500 degrees Celsius and pressurised to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch. The pure carbon melts and starts to form a diamond around the starter seed. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond. A CVD diamond begins as a thin slice of diamond seed, which is often an HPHT produced diamond. The diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is filled with a carbon rich-gas, which are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gases, and the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed and slowly crystallises.
After a raw diamond is formed (using either method), it is cut and polished, and then sent to undergo the same grading and certification as a mined diamond. Chemically, physically, and optically, the two types of diamonds are the same. The only difference is where they were formed.
Why are millennials favouring lab-grown diamonds?
As mentioned above, millennials are concerned about money and where/how their products are made. Lab-grown diamonds provides a solution to both concerns.
Not only are lab-created diamonds the only way to be 100% certain that your diamond was ethically sourced, but they’re also 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds. So, couples can have peace of mind about their purchase and also save 20-40% more than they would with a ring that features mined stones.
What styles of engagement rings are currently proving popular?
Halo engagement rings are having a big moment. Although their design is gorgeous, this might have a lot to do with the fact that the setting can make a centre stone appear much larger than it really is. For someone looking to save money on a ring, this setting is a great choice.
Rose gold is also fairly new to engagement rings and couples are loving this fun, unique colour that looks incredible next to the sparkle of a diamond.
What would be your main advice to couples when choosing an engagement ring?
Their personal preference! It can be easy to choose a ‘best-selling’ ring or a design that is seemingly popular at the moment. Couples need to remember that this is a piece of jewellery that will (hopefully) be worn for years and years to come. They should find a ring that represents their true style and preferences. This is especially important advice if one partner is surprising the other with a ring. Talk with his/her friends and family and truly find the best ring possible — not just the most convenient.
Can you give us an overview of the range of rings offered by Clean Origin?
We have four main collections of settings: solitaire, classic, vintage, and halo. Overall, we offer more than 200 ring setting styles ranging from a simple band with a single diamond to a multi-layered band with accent stones and filigree metal work. All Clean Origin rings are available in white, yellow, and rose gold, as well as platinum. We also offer a variety of diamond shapes, including fancy shapes such as emerald, marquise, and pear.
Beyond rings what other lab-grown diamond jewellery do you offer that is proving popular with the millennial generation?
In addition to rings, we also offer diamond stud earrings, tennis bracelets, hoop earrings, and diamond necklaces. Our most popular non-ring jewellery item would absolutely be our ready-to-ship diamond studs. These are not only a staple piece of jewellery that can go with just about any outfit, but their price point is extremely reasonable.
How do you see the future of engagement rings continuing to change?
As more and more individuals are educated about the benefits of lab-grown diamonds, we believe their popularity will continue to increase. Although we’ve already to see it more and more, we also think the purchasing process of engagement rings will change quite a bit. Millennials are changing a lot of the engagement and marriage traditions and we’re seeing an increase in couples purchasing a ring together, instead of one buying for the other.