Recession romance: Buying jewelry for less

When my mother died, my father gave me her engagement ring, largely in the hopes that I might one day pass it on to another woman. Sure enough, a few years later, when I proposed to my wife, the diamond that I gave her was the one that my father had given me.

This isn't to say that I just passed the ring on; in fact, I spent about a month working with a jeweler friend and a goldsmith. Ultimately, the three of us created a truly distinctive ring that said a great deal about my wife, myself, and the family that we eventually formed.

If I hadn't gotten my mother's ring, I don't think that I would have given my wife a diamond. To begin with, buying a new diamond would have more than doubled the cost of the ring. Beyond that, however, I'm not sure how I feel about diamonds; apart from the human misery that is attached to their mining and distribution, there is the fact that the damned things just aren't that beautiful. Given a choice, I'd pick a sapphire, tourmaline, ruby, garnet, or even a helenite over the more traditional chunk of carbon.