So... when we got engaged, I was absolutely sure that I didn't want a diamond. The history of diamonds is just too messed up. I know it's totally possible to get conflict-free diamonds so I wouldn't have to feel like I was wearing some poor kid's blood on my hand, but I was still annoyed by the fact that diamonds are artificially and astronomically priced and they don't actually lay claim to any real historical connection to engagements. They only became popular as an engagement gift in the 1920s when De Beers started an engagement ring campaign. I didn't want to feel like I had been duped by marketing executives from decades ago into throwing my money away (my fiance's money is my money -- we've already had a joint checking account for years).
So before the proposal, I let my soon-to-be fiance know that I was not to have a diamond -- no way, no how. So she proposed with the perfect ring... a pearl ring. Pearls have an actual claim to history. They were the traditional engagement gift in several European traditions and they're lovely. I love the ring, I love the sentiment, I love everything about the whole thing... except that the dang thing keeps falling apart!!!!!
I guess it's really difficult to set a pearl on a ring -- since it's round it can't be trapped inside the the claws of platinum that clasp in diamonds and so my pearl is screwed onto my ring and keeps getting unscrewed. I've now had to super-glue the damn thing back together again several times and I'm starting to feel a little silly -- like I've got some fisher price toy ring. Like I'm playing engagement with my playgroup after preschool.
I still don't regret the diamond decision. I feel good about my reasons -- but I do feel a little silly.