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While the average cost of a wedding in the United exceeds thirty thousand dollars, that price ticket is actually even higher depending on where you live. In New York City, for instance, couples spend an average of over seventy-five thousand dollars. The rising cost of a wedding, according to some industry experts, is why it’s now becoming more popular to see diamond alternatives like white sapphire compared.
While there are many creative ways to slash wedding costs, one of the most popular ones has been turning to diamond alternatives like white sapphire. As the sales of traditional diamond engagement rings show signs of a slow decline amongst millennials, alternatives like white sapphire become more attractive, both to reduce costs and, for some, for ethical reasons.
The implicit rules of engagement rings that have inundated popular culture are starting to soften. Both younger generations, and financial experts, for instancing, are pushing back against the idea that you have to spend three months of your salary on an engagement ring.
Some, including Stacey Leascea, contributor of investing for Forbes, simply insist that you should be spending less, or closer to two months’ worth of your salary. Others, such as Dave Ramsey, best selling author and creator of Financial Peace, argue that as little as one months’ salary may be enough to purchase an engagement ring.
But the general trend doesn’t come down to how much of your salary you should spend, but more suggesting you should instead spend what you feel comfortable with.
White Sapphire vs Diamond
According to some surveys, up to a quarter of millennials and Generation Z say they don’t even have marriage in their plans. But even the remaining three quarters have lingering reservations about buying a diamond engagement ring, or at very least, spending as much money, which could instead be used to finance down payments on vehicles, homes, or student loans.
Of course, price isn’t the only reason younger couples are on the search for diamond alternatives like white sapphire. In this article, we’ll show you how white sapphire, compared with a diamond, can offer a number of benefits–but also some drawbacks as well. If you’re looking for a diamond alternative but still uncertain, read on to see if white sapphire could be an option for you.
How popular are diamond alternatives like white sapphire?
Despite flashy headlines declaring millennials and younger generations aren’t buying diamonds, that simply isn’t an accurate depiction. The truth is, while there is a trend of opening up more to diamond alternatives, for now, diamond rings still enjoy far more popularity.
Alternative rings make up just a small portion, likely under five percent of engagement ring sales. Still, that’s a notable figure, with signs it may increase in the future.
Are all diamond alternatives equal?
As Blue Nile, an e-commerce company which specializes in both diamond and gemstone rings, points out, not all gemstones are well suited to be worn for engagement rings. Some alternatives are too soft, too brittle, and too prone to discoloration. Other gemstones simply lack luster or do not exhibit the sparkle that diamonds are so prized for.
In general, diamond alternatives fall into one of three categories, as do diamonds themselves: synthetic, or lab-grown; natural; and stimulants.
Natural gemstones have to be mined for and, of course, are naturally occurring. Natural gemstones do have imperfections, including inclusions and external blemishes. It is possible that you’ll also see some uneven coloring, though the highest grade quality has few imperfections.
Synthetic, or lab-grown gemstones are created in temperature-controlled labs and have the same chemical and physical properties of natural gemstones but do not typically have imperfections.
Simulant gemstones we normally discuss in terms of gemstones purposely mimicking the look of diamonds. They can cost as much as eighty percent less than diamonds per carat, do not share the same physical or chemical properties, and tend to be much more prone to damage.
Where can I purchase engagement rings with a diamond alternative like white sapphire?
Compared, a diamond engagement or wedding ring is easier to find, but the good news is that many retailers that sell diamond rings also sell white sapphire. At the end of this article, we’ll be discussing some places you can buy white sapphire online.
You can find white sapphire options in a number of traditional stores, though your options may be slightly more limited when it concerns different styles and the degree of customization offered. White sapphires are among the most popular alternatives to diamonds and for good reason. You likely won’t have trouble finding a white sapphire ring as much as you might think, but shopping online will expand your options.
Sapphire was the gemstone of choice for Princess Eugenie and is considered to be of even greater value than Kate Middleton’s–though in this case, Princess Eugenie opted not for a white sapphire ring, but a rare sapphire with a pink hue and signature shape. Still, it shows that sapphires are in popular culture and beloved by both the general public and celebrities.
Should I select a synthetic or natural white sapphire?
As with diamonds, there is debate as to whether natural or lab-grown white sapphires are the best option. In truth, both can be excellent options and have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
While synthetic white sapphires, should, in theory, have less variation than natural white sapphires, in reality, some recommend natural is a slightly better option. Natural white sapphire, compared with synthetic sapphire, tends to be more durable. Another issue is that the color of white sapphire actually varies more when synthetic because companies produce it differently.
Finally, often people opt for lab-grown over natural gemstones because synthetic tends to be more affordable. In the case of white sapphire, however, compared with diamonds, natural stones still tend to be fairly inexpensive.
However, most will ultimately opt for lab-grown; natural white sapphires are far rarer and tend to limit your options. Ultimately, it may come down to personal preference and availability. Both lab-grown and natural white sapphire rings are reasonable options.
Compared to other alternatives, is white sapphire a viable alternative to a diamond?
While this article won’t be fully comparing white sapphire with other gemstones, what we will be doing is taking a look at white sapphire vs diamond. While we’re not looking for a gemstone that will exhibit all of the qualities a diamond does, what we are attempting is to find a gemstone that will work in terms of overall value.
For these purposes, we’ll be comparing white sapphires with diamonds in terms of a number critical features, including price, color, sparkle, grading, sourcing, varieties, hardness, toughness, overall durability, availability, and overall value.
While your own personal preferences should play a role, this comparison will provide an objective view to help you determine if white sapphire is a reasonable option for you.
How much does white sapphire cost, compared to a diamond?
As you’ve likely already assumed, white sapphire cost less than diamonds. However, just how much less white sapphires cost than diamonds can be tricky to calculate.
Diamond pricing is quite variable because the value of a diamond depends heavily upon not just carat, but cut, clarity, color, and grade. What we can look at is diamond price charts, as we see above. If it looks complex, that’s because it is. What the chart above shows us is how diamonds are priced and indexed, based upon all of the features we’ve mentioned. Inclusions, or imperfections, will also lower a diamond’s value.
The average price for one-carat diamond can range from two thousand to seventeen thousand dollars; however, the average cost for a diamond engagement ring is around six thousand dollars.
White sapphires also vary quite a bit in cost, but for the sake of simplicity, we can look at what is considered ‘high quality’ white sapphires, in terms of color and cut. The cost is normally from five hundred to fifteen hundred dollars per carat.
Some estimate that diamonds cost upwards of three thousand or so dollars, on average, so you could save nearly fifty percent total cost on a white sapphire vs a diamond engagement ring.
How rare of white sapphires vs diamonds, and does that affect availability?
There’s little doubt that diamonds are still more commonly sold, when it comes to engagement rings, although much of that is due to the demand for diamonds.
Diamonds are not only lab-grown all over the world, but are naturally occurring in numerous regions. Diamonds are mined in places as varied as Australia, China, Russia, Canada, Japan, India, African nations, and parts of the United States, among others.
White sapphires are the colorless form of sapphires and are considered considerably more rare than most diamonds (but excluding some quite rare and expensive diamonds, such as the Blue Hope Diamond). While they are less available, they are popular enough they are not considered difficult for consumers to purchase. Since they are more rare, you could also make the argument that they are in some cases more unique. Natural white sapphires are rather rare, but lab grown are fairly widely available.
How does the color and clarity of white sapphires compare with diamonds?
Contrary to the name, white sapphires are not actually white, or they shouldn’t be.
Sapphires themselves, of course, are blue, but white sapphires are considered colorless. In order to achieve that colorless hue, white sapphires are typically heat-treated–before, they have a gray undertone. However, while mostly colorless, they can tend to be a bit clouded, and often have less clarity than diamonds.
Diamonds naturally have yellow undertones. At their highest clarity and best, ideal cut, they are nearly colorless.
At the highest quality, diamonds and white sapphires resemble each other fairly well in terms of color. White sapphires will have a more clear look at a much lower price than what you’ll have to pay if you want to see that color from a diamond.
Does a white sapphire offer as beautiful sparkle and shine as a diamond?
Sparkle or shine, or scintillation, depends upon a number of variables including cut and clarity. Ideal cut, for instance, offers the ideal degree of light to pass through and create that classic, beautiful sparkle diamonds are famous for.
White sapphire tends to have less sparkle than diamonds. While similar in appearance in other ways, white sapphire simply cannot mimic a diamond’s brilliance under light. Compared with a diamond, light distribution is less even as has more of a ‘glass-like’ rather than brilliant appearance.
Moissanite, another popular alternative, exhibits fire and sparkle equal to, or even exceeding a diamond, so not all gemstones are less brilliant than diamonds. Remember, though, that cut, color, and clarity, as well as overall grade, all play a role as to how much sparkle and shine you’ll see.
What are the sources standards or concerns with diamonds vs white sapphires?
Diamonds have long been concerning in terms of sourcing, so much so, that in recent years, more standards have been promoted to reduce labor end environmental concerns.
The Kimberley Process, which ensures that diamonds do not finance civil wars, is now used by many well known companies, including Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth, Earthwise Jewelry, New World Diamonds, and James Allen, among others. Some companies have also placed additional standards, including supportable sustainable and responsible mining, as well as other labor concerns not covered under the Kimberley Process.
As far as white sapphires vs diamonds, not one is inherently more ethical. Diamonds have been more consistently linked to human rights abuses Especially of concern is diamonds sourced from Zimbabwe, Angola, and the Central African Republic, which all have been used to finance civil wars.
However, there are plenty of options to buy ethically sourced diamonds. Diamonds from locations such as Canada and the United States also tend to have higher standards overall.
While there are less ethical concerns as a whole, with white sapphires, it’s also more difficult to find responsibly sourced white sapphires. Nearly a quarter of white sapphires come from Madagascar, which has had numerous ethical and rights concerns.
In a strange twist, due to the greater history of concerns and especially violence, in many ways, diamonds come under greater scrutiny; it’s easier to find white sapphires that explicitly conflict-free and adhere to ethical sourcing practices, while often this information is not always disclosed for white sapphires.
How durable is a white sapphire vs diamond?
In terms of durability, we’re actually discussing three factors: hardness, toughness, and environmental resistance.
Hardness measures how easy the gemstone is to scratch. Hardness, which measured on the Mohs scale, from one to ten, tells us if the gemstone is likely to hold up to everyday wear.
A diamond has the highest hardness rating possible, at a ten. By comparison, a white sapphire has a rating just below that, at a nine. While this is a lower hardness rating, consider that white sapphire are among the hardest gemstones. By comparison, topaz and quartz are rated at seven or eight, respectively. Cubic zirconia, a diamond simulant, normally has a hardness rating around eight. White sapphires do noticeably scratch more easily and require more maintenance overall, than diamonds.
Toughness of White Sapphire vs. White Diamonds
Toughness measures instead of the level of resistance to breaking and chipping. It’s an often-overlooked category, and quite often falsely lumped in with hardness. As opposed to hardness, which more or less indicates how a diamond or gemstone holds up to everyday wear, toughness indicates how well the stone will hold up should it suffer from some form of trauma or direct impact.
Diamonds, despite their hardness, are not as tough as other gemstones. Depending on the cut and angle, diamond toughness ranges from about five to eight thousand. A gemstone with very little toughness is about sid hundred, while the toughest gemstones range from one hundred and twenty to over two hundred and twenty thousand.
White sapphires are not that different from diamonds, meaning that they are considered relatively resistant to chipping or breaking, but not as strong as some gemstones.
Environmental Resistance, also known as stability, tells us how well a diamond or other gemstone like white sapphire will hold up to changes and hardships in the environment. Humidity, heat, and exposure to chemicals are the primary concerns, in regards to both discoloration and overall damage.
Diamonds are generally considered quite stable, but cannot withstand extremes in temperature fluctuations. Thermal shock can shatter diamonds–but keep in mind that this requires extreme fluctuations. In terms of heat resistance, diamonds can withstand temperatures as high as two thousand to three thousand degrees Fahrenheit. They are also resistant to most chemicals and acids and hold up well against humidity.
White sapphires are not as stable as diamonds. For one, white sapphires tend not to be as stable in terms of color or clarity, and require regular polishing to avoid a more cloudy look. Like diamonds, however, they are resistant to most chemicals, harsh lighting, and temperatures, so long as they are not extreme.
How is a white sapphire graded, compared with a diamond?
Both diamonds and white sapphires are graded on a scale based upon the overall quality of appearance and composition. While there are no dramatic differences in grading techniques, not only is the grading scale a bit different, but many also contend that diamonds and diamond grading, are held to higher standards than grading for white sapphires. As such, we recommend purchasing a white sapphire at only the highest rating.
Diamonds are graded on several facets, including cut, clarity, and color. A D color is of the highest quality, while a Z is of most poor. Good, very good, ideal, and astor ideal are the only qualities you should purchase. Diamonds with ideal cuts, colorless, and flawless clarity of the highest grade (and most expensive).
White sapphires should only be purchased at a grade of AAA, which indicates the top ten percent of white sapphires commercially sold. These will exhibit the level of brilliance, brightness and quality you want for a diamond alternative. Any lower and you may have a more clouded and dull appearance, whereas, with diamonds, you do not need to the absolute highest grade.
Is a white sapphire a good alternative to diamond?
As often in the case, part of whether or not white sapphire will prove a viable alternative to a diamond depends on what you’re looking for.
Buy a white sapphire vs diamond if
- You’re looking for a more affordable option that’s fairly durable, or you want to be able to purchase a larger carat size
- You want a gemstone that’s stable or durable, but looks a bit different
- You like a look of white to clear stone and aren’t as interested in the shine of a diamond
Consider sticking with a diamond if
- You have a larger budget or are willing to go for a smaller carat size
- You don’t want to spend as much time on maintenance
- You’re looking for classic brilliance and scintillation.
- As a whole, white sapphire is not a direct substitute for a diamond, but it still is a fairly durable and affordable gemstone and has its own unique appeal.
Bottom line: buy a white sapphire if you like it for what it is, but perhaps not as a direct replacement for a diamond.
Where can I buy white sapphire rings?
While there are countless retailers for diamonds, you may be wondering where you can purchase white sapphire rings. Here are our recommendations for places you can purchase white sapphire rings online:
- The Natural Sapphire Company: As the name implies, The Natural Sapphire Company specializes in sapphires, and that includes white sapphires. They offer returns within fourteen days (or the center to be reset in the case of engagement rings), and you can visit their physical showroom in New York. Their sapphires are actually untreated, and of higher value than many on the market. Rather than stocking large amounts of sapphires, most are individually curated. Sapphires also come with 3D scans and professional laboratory reports.
- Brilliant Earth is known primarily for ethically sourced diamonds, but they also allow you to custom design your own gemstone engagement ring. From a company that supports economic stability and enforces standards for its diamonds, it’s a good and a slightly more expensive option.
Make that proposal happen! Get started designing and create an engagement ring as unique as the wearer. To help pull off the perfect engagement, head over to Brilliant Earth's proposal guide.
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