Americans spend a lot on diamond engagement rings

Couple all over the U.S. spent billions of dollars last year just on diamond engagement rings!If you were short on cash, would you still propose to your loved one with a diamond engagement ring? The answer seems to be "yes" for many, and the current economic climate is not really stopping couples from purchasing engagement and wedding bling.

According to a study by The Wedding Report, sweethearts all over America spent a whopping $9.64 billion on diamond engagement rings and wedding bands in 2010 alone. Tech-savvy lovebirds spent just over $1 billion dollars buying their rings online as opposed to going to a traditional jewelry store.

There are a few more interesting facts that surfaced from the report. The study explained that the average carat weight for diamond engagement rings for the year was 1.18 while the metal of choice was white gold. Additionally, 26.3 percent of couples mentioned that they customized their bling, perhaps with engraving inside.

Don't get left behind! Choose a diamond engagement ring that will fit your budget just right. You can even look for antique engagement rings that will reflect your style or choose a contemporary piece that you can easily pair with other items in your jewelry collection.

Should the ladies pay for their own diamond engagement rings?

Why are ladies like Kim Kardashian getting flak for buying their own diamond engagement rings?Tradition insists that men are to get on bended knee and propose their undying love to their ladies as they open a jewelry box to reveal a diamond engagement ring. That may have been the case perhaps 50 years ago, but these days, many independent women are having their own way when it comes to the perfect proposal. So is it okay for the would-be bride to purchase her own diamond engagement ring?

Well, why not? If you can afford it, buy it! However, it seems that reality superstar Kim Kardashian may be getting some flak for apparently buying her own gargantuan 20-plus carat rock. According to The Globe and Mail, it's quite unlikely that her NBA fiancé, Kris Humphries could've afforded the $2 million bling on a $3.2 million salary, but if she could afford such a diamond engagement ring then why criticize her for purchasing it herself?

"These are high-powered, highly paid women," Weddingbells editor-in-chief Alison McGill told the news outlet. "In their eyes, they have ideals to live up to. For [Kardashian] … it was paramount that her ring reflect that," she added.

Spinel in antique jewelry

Is that really a ruby or spinel? Make sure you have the right gem on your vintage jewelry!You just saw a gorgeous antique cocktail ring with a giant red gem in the center. You fell in love with it and thought that it was perfect, especially considering the fact that you were born in July and that the ruby is your birthstone – but look again. Is that rock really a ruby or a spinel?

Spinels, just like rubies, are known for their bright red coloring – they were even referred to once as balas rubies, according to Gemstone.org. Today, most gem enthusiasts can spot the difference, so before purchasing a red gemstone, make sure that it's the piece that you wanted.

Ironically, the ruby alternates are far rarer than ruby itself but are still fairly less expensive. According to the news outlet, "being too rare can be a drawback because so few people even get the chance to develop a fondness for the varieties in question."

So if you're looking for something special in your antique jewelry, you might want to give spinel a chance.  

Diamond engagement ring – a symbol of everlasting love

Why is the diamond engagement ring a symbol of everlasting love?

Love has been expressed in many ways throughout time. This strong emotion has been central to many stories of the past – Romeo proclaimed his undying affection as Juliet listened on her balcony. In the Bible, Mary of Magdalene showed her love and gratitude for Jesus as she anointed his feet. For children, drawing hearts with crayons is a simple way of showing admiration for a fellow classmate. And for lovers of the present, gifting someone with a diamond engagement ring is the complete act of the profession of love, followed of course, by marriage and the promise of commitment and loyalty forever. But how did a simple piece of stone become the ultimate symbol of everlasting love?

The history of diamond engagement rings can be traced back to the 13th century, according to Slate. In 1447, the Archduke Maximilian of Austria apparently commissioned a bauble that he gave to his future wife, Mary of Burgundy. With the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa, which lowered the price of the stone, the act of giving a diamond engagement ring as a proposal gift became even more popular. Then, of course, came De Beers, the diamond company that ultimately took the tradition to another level with its smart marketing campaigns – its line "A Diamond Is Forever" has since become the ultimate tagline for the rock.

These days, the tradition continues, but with a few changes to cater to the modern couple. A man is still expected to provide a beautiful ring before he pops that very important question, but for some, that ultimate question can come from the lady herself. The plight of the independent woman has been rough but not fruitless. Take Pink, for example. The "Get the Party Started" singer proposed to boyfriend Carey Hart while he was motocross racing – how romantic! Another trend that seems to be gaining popularity is women choosing and, sometimes, even purchasing their own diamond engagement rings.

Even with this changing perception of who should be giving out the diamond engagement ring, one question still persists – why are diamonds attached to the act of professing one's love to another? Perhaps it's the diamond's transparency that makes it a great physical representation of one's love to another – to love someone is to show him or her who you truly are, exposing your true identity and self. With the transparent crystal, one can see the flaws deep within, called intrusions. These irregularities are responsible for some diamonds having feathers or clouds inside them. And just like the stones, love enables you to see your partner's flaws without any prejudice, allowing you to accept him for who he is.

Or perhaps it truly is just the magnificence and brilliance of a diamond engagement ring that makes it the perfect symbolic gift of one's affection. The way that a rough diamond is meticulously faceted makes it refract light even better, making it sparkle and shine. The stone can even be cut in different ways. According to The Diamond Report, the round cut makes up more than half of what consumers are looking for. This kind of cut has been perfected through mathematical calculations, ensuring that the facets are utilized to the best of their advantage. Just like the gem that shines brighter with every polish and cut, love becomes stronger and more apparent as the couple works on their relationship.

It really is unfair to compare love with a diamond engagement ring, but we are only human, and emotions such as love are easier to understand if they are attached to a tangible object. Just remember that love still can exist even without a diamond, but a diamond will be worthless without love. 

Tiger’s eye in antique jewelry

Get your loved one a vintage cocktail ring with a tiger's eye centerpiece.Have you ever been intrigued by that gem with different layers of brown and amber tones? That stone is called tiger's eye, and appropriately so, because it does resemble the hues in the giant cat's irises.

Used in many antique jewelry pieces, the gem is making a comeback in the contemporary scene, used as beads in bracelets, earrings and cocktail rings. According to Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry, tiger's eye is part of the quartz group of chalcedonies. The gem is mostly cut in a cabochon fashion as opposed to facets to further showcase its chatoyancy, which is the reflectivity of the stone from the parallel fibrous elements found within.

For the believers of the supernatural, tiger's eye is believed to bring psychic powers to its wearers (third eye, anyone?). It is also considered to be beneficial for those suffering from any health problems and is good for overall spiritual wellbeing, according to the source.

Thinking about gifting your loved one with an antique cocktail ring that features the stone? You might want to wait for your ninth wedding anniversary, as the tiger's eye is considered to be the accepted gem for the occasion.

Consider men’s jewelry as a gift for your loved one

Choose a bold men's ring to gift your hubby.Are you pulling out your hair trying to think of what to get your hubby or boyfriend for that special occasion? Maybe it's his birthday or your anniversary and it might seem like you've pretty much given him every gift imaginable, so why not do something non-traditional and give him men's jewelry?

It always used to be the other way around – a guy chooses a gorgeous vintage bracelet or ring to present to his gal as a gift – but these days, more men are opting to accessorize. The gender lines are sure crossing paths as more males are starting to understand that looks do matter, and just like their counterparts, accessorizing with beautiful pieces of men's jewelry is a great way to showcase one's style.

If you can flash some gorgeous bling, why not your man? Choose a chunky vintage ring for him – nothing says power than a big piece of rock set in gold or platinum. Is your hubby not much of the flashy type? Choose a pair of cufflinks instead that he can wear during those special events or at work. 

Tiffany & Co inspired by twisted vintage jewelry for its new collection

Tiffany & Co were inspired by vintage jewelry to create twisted jewelry.Tiffany & Co has been known as one of the the premiere American jewelers for over a century – its fashion-forward jewelry is coveted by women around the world, from famous celebrities like Natalie Portman to regular folks looking for something special and dazzling. For its new collection, the company decided to look to the past, giving a literal twist to vintage jewelry pieces.

The craft of hand-twisting metal wires to create an interesting spiral motif has been done for generations, and Tiffany & Co is updating the look for the modern woman. According to the company, the Tiffany Twist "[is] a new collection that turns 18 karat gold and sterling silver into jewelry of chic simplicity."

The line includes a twisted bow pendant suspended on a long chain, complementing a wide array of ensembles. Additionally, twisted bangles are available for those who would like to make a statement with stacked pieces of jewelry. As an update on those classic vintage earrings, the company also created twisted hoops in two sizes. 

Congresswoman Giffords exchanges wedding bands with husband

Congresswoman Giffords exchanged wedding bands with husband.After her brush with death five months ago, it seems that Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is recovering pretty well, attending her husband Capt. Mark Kelly's liftoff on the Endeavor shuttle. And what better way to show love for each other than with a wedding band switcharoo?

The man at the helm of the space shuttle normally takes his wedding band to space, but this time, Giffords wanted the bauble to remind her of his love, according to CBS News.

"It's in my pocket and it will be around her neck as soon as I see her," the congresswoman's chief of staff, Pia Carusone, told the new source. The ring – we're thinking a gorgeous vintage wedding band – was apparently too big for Gifford to wear so Kelly gave it to Carusone so that she could find a chain.

Besides the sweet act of exchanging wedding bands, Carusone also opened up about Gifford's current condition and said that she was medically stable.

The congresswoman miraculously survived a gunshot to the head after an assassination attempt in Tucson.

Did the Bachelor’s fianc

Did the Bachelor's fiancee give him back her diamond engagement ring?During the series finale of ABC's hit show The Bachelor, Brad Womack proposed to Emily Maynard with a gorgeous diamond engagement ring. The bauble was a custom-made Neil Lane cushion-cut stunner set in platinum and surrounded by 263 round brilliant-cut diamonds that reportedly cost between $50,000 and $90,000, according to OK magazine. However, after only a few months of being engaged, it seems that it might unfortunately be over for the couple as Maynard apparently gave back the ring to Womack.

ContactMusic.com reports that the reality star's would-be bride was spotted in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, without the diamond engagement ring on her finger. An insider told the news source that the couple's relationship is "completely over now."

Speculations about their future surfaced months ago when the pair, in a joint statement to People magazine, said that "[i]t has been a bumpy couple of months for us. Our priority right now is to focus on our relationship."

We only hope that both find happiness whether with or without each other. 

Getting engaged? Be smart about purchasing your diamond engagement ring!

Think wisely before you buy a diamond engagement ring!A diamond engagement ring is an important part of any proposal – at least for most traditional couples. However, purchasing one could get really pricy, especially if you use your heart (and eyes!) as opposed to being smart about your decision. This is why you should take your time to shop around to find a bauble that's beautiful but won't cost you an arm and a leg.

According to Metro News, the first step to take before purchasing a diamond engagement ring is to determine your budget. You shouldn't start a brand new chapter in your life with your loved one in debt. So unless you're a basketball star like Kim Kardashian's fiancé, who spent $2 million on a rock, you need to be smart about how much you are willing to shell out.

Another tip from the news source is to do your research. Besides investigating jewelers and referrals, look online for possible alternatives that can be less expensive. Additionally, a custom-made bauble could be more costly than, say, a vintage engagement ring, so take these things into consideration.