Here's an interesting article from TheFederalist.com author Rachel Lu: thefederalist.com/2014/08/08/give-cubic-zirconias-a-chance-to-replace-diamond-wedding-rings/
We are happy that Rachel is giving the idea of cubic zirconia for bridal jewelry a recommendation, but frankly some of her praise of the practice is a little back-handed-- and we know our customers deserve better, frankly!
Here's the message we sent to Rachel....
Yes, Rachel, I totally agree that "the social expectations placed on brides are genuinely onerous". However, the real social expectations are placed not just on the bride-- nor just on the groom-- but on the couple themselves. When did we as a culture ever allow the wedding—the events of a single DAY, and those leading up to it— to take on more importance than the entirety of two lives together bonded in marriage?
I am very happy you are giving the idea of cubic zirconia for bridal jewelry a recommendation… As you stated and I can do no better: “A man needn’t have thousands of dollars to spare in order to make a good husband. The cubic zirconia can supply what couples really need from an engagement ring—tradition, beauty, and a public symbol of their matrimonial intentions—at a fraction of the cost.”
However, I hope you’ll allow me to disagree with your word choice in a few areas, in the spirit of courtesy and goodwill.
You say: "Alchemists spent years trying to make artificial gold, but now that we can make artificial diamonds, almost nobody wants to wear one."
Ahh, but there you are somewhat generalizing a falsehood! In order to make the same statement true both to the industry statistics I have access to as well as my own anecdotal experience as Vice President for www.CubicZirconia.com, an online leader for cubic zirconia jewelry and gemstones, I'd amend the statement you made to read:
"Alchemists spent years trying to make artificial gold, but now that we can make artificial diamonds, almost nobody wants *admit* to wear*ing* one."
Many of our customers are like myself, proud to buy and wear cubic zirconia gemstones as an alternative to overpriced diamonds that are visually indistinguishable. However, many are also happy that the non-discernible difference of high-quality CZ such as that used by my company compared to diamond allows the couple to ‘pretend’ that their bridal jewelry is diamond, and secretly invest the difference in cost in things that actually bring them joy, pleasure, better financial standing, and/or advance their position in the world as a couple with a new and brighter future together.
You’d be amazed what an extra $2,000-30,000 can do for a couple starting out in their new life together, and that’s an average US dollar figure for savings our customers experience buying our jewelry versus the same thing crowned and set with diamonds instead of cubic zirconia.
I also have to respectfully disagree with this statement: "Very few can tell the difference with their naked eye." (speaking of telling the difference between CZ and diamond by visual look).
Listen, that is not true at all in my experience. In fact, I have a standing $10,000 wager at 10-1 odds for anyone who claims differently and is prepared to back It up under laboratory-controlled conditions at a local university, under video-taped and 3rd-party audited circumstances. Frankly, no one has ever taken me up on the wager and I’ve made it publicly through our website as well as individually to many highly-trained and certified jewelers and gemologists.
Here’s the truth diamond jewelers and the mining cartels don not want the public to know: Anyone who says they can tell the difference between diamond and the top-quality 5A Cubic Zirconia with a visual naked eye look only is lying, only giving anecdotal evidence based on flawed experiment set-up, or comparing diamonds to poor-quality CZ manufactured by companies trying to save money on quality. Or...they could be trying to sell you diamond jewelry!
Study after study and test after test with "blind" provisions where the testee has no pre-existing knowledge about the gemstones to be shown, and where multiple sets of gemstones are provided where one is highest-quality CZ and one is diamond, have proven that the highest quality cubic zirconia gemstones are *visually indistinguishable* from diamonds without certain tests.
That doesn’t mean no one can tell the difference between CZ and diamond, that’s not what I’m saying…Such tests that CAN tell the difference can include:
a) hardness tests (diamond is much harder mineral than synthetic CZ—which doesn't really make it better for jewelry if you think about it, though I guess it comes in handy if you get locked out of your house and need a handy cutting tool to cut the glass in your entry door to reach through and unlock it)
b) use of certain tools such as a jeweler's magnifier glass or a digital mineral scanner)...
…none of which lies under the original article’s definition to ask whether someone admiring her ring would be able to tell the difference!
If thousands of blind tests have 50% saying the diamond is CZ and 50% saying the CZ is diamond based on respondents' best visual guesses, you can safely say that "any random person who was admiring your ring" will NOT be able to say for sure whether your ring is set with diamond or CZ.
And my public challenge of $10,000 at 10:1 odds says no gemologist or jeweler can do it either, unaided, under the conditions of a true test such as those briefly outlined.
So what WILL make any random person think your cubic zirconia bridal jewelry is CZ rather than diamond?
First, CZ often comes in large sizes, larger than what people may see frequently in diamond jewelry. After all, who not a celebrity, heiress or billionaire/billionaire’s wife would wear a 4-5 carat diamond outside in public? This means that when you're looking at a HUGE "blingin-awesome" clear gemstone out in public, many people will assume it's a synthetic gemstone CZ rather than diamond...simply because a 4-5 carat diamond will run in the six figure dollars and some people can't fathom the risk of losing that investment or having it stolen.
Also, if you don't appear to be affluent, the tendency of people is to believe that you couldn't afford diamond so it “MUST be CZ”. The same goes doubly for friends and family, who know your financial situation. This is a reason for some CZ buyers electing for 1 carat or 1.5 carat center stones because they believe whether it's CZ or diamond is nobody's business but their own and they're saving tens of thousands of dollars buying CZ vs diamond on an engagement ring for instance-- while it remains "believable" for their financial situation that it COULD be diamond (something important to some buyers).
Second, many people have the assumption that cubic zirconia usually comes in inferior settings (that can be easily spotted). As an industry-wide assumption, it’s a safe one and very true. The internet and flea markets are filled with fifty dollar engagement rings that are brass plated with sterling silver or a thin crappy gold plating that will wear off quickly, and there's surely a market for that though these cheap products will turn your finger green and there is no metal value in them.
However, there's a large contingent of consumers that want the highest-quality metal settings commercially-possible paired not with diamond but CZ. These customers buy pure 950 Platinum rings with good-sized CZ center stones that would cost $30,000 or more for $1500-3000 set with CZ instead of diamond.
The market for hiqh-quality metal jewelry like 18K White and Yellow Gold, 14K White and Yellow Gold, 10K White and Yellow Gold, Palladium (more durable than gold, similar look to Platinum but cheaper), and pure .925 Sterling Silver are all expanding. These customers know the value is in the precious metal, because many of them believe that diamond costs are artificially inflated anyway-- though that's a story for another day!-- and purchase jewelry that has true resale value because of the purity of the precious metal chosen for manufacture (unlike plated brass metal which has essentially zero resale value).
So that was fun…I love the article, but in my experience the words we use to describe something can make more of an impact than the theme. The theme of your article is to let couples be in love, reduce stress, focus more on the marriage and life together than on the events of one day (wedding), and fulfill societal obligations balanced with what’s in the best interests of the couple. So I hope you don’t mind my wanting to more clearly define a couple of what I felt were generalizations!
As far as your statement that "most people see the synthetic diamond as a symbol of cheapness and inauthenticity."—that’s another story, entirely! What is this claim based upon? I'm sorry if I seem offended, but frankly I am.
What could be a more authentic gift for a newly engaged couple to give *themselves* than the secure knowledge that they bought their honeymoon for CASH, put a down payment on a home in CASH, or paid for their entire wedding with CASH not needing help from mom and dad-- all with the hard cash savings between the diamond ring and a high-quality CZ engagement ring none of their friends or family could tell the difference between anyway without being told?
If it’s inauthentic to snub traditions perpetuated by a consumer culture that causes couples to go into DEBT to live up to an impossible standard to please other people and receive a one-time ego boost for an expensive wedding and expensive engagement jewelry…then it’s the kind of inauthentic men and women I talk to daily are certainly happy to accept with increasing numbers.
All it takes is putting pencil to paper and seeing the difference, like our customers do who find the perfect diamond ring in Sterling Silver, Gold, or Platinum, and ask us to create an identical copy set with Cubic Zirconia as a custom quote. When you start thinking of what you can do with that extra $2000, $5000, $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more…it tends to make smart couples realize they have a choice.
They can choose to support consumer traditions fueled by hundreds of years of hard-core brain-wash advertising by some of the richest and most ruthless capitalists in the world (diamond mining concerns), go into debt for a fairytale and ignore the realities of life and marriage being more than one day, and be just another ‘me too’ story…or they can choose differently.
I really like your closing sentence: “Celebrate love. Give the bridal couple a good ‘welcome to adult life’ sendoff. Let’s give the cubic zirconia a second chance.”
That’s truly what a wedding ought to be about!
And if you can pay for the wedding, the honeymoon, AND the down-payment on the house with savings from diamond versus cubic zirconia—and have NO ONE know the difference but you two, unless you tell them— then…why not?
Mr. Cubic Zirconia