By: Christopher Ballay

I proposed to my fiancé six months ago. Aside from my fears of dropping the ring over the balcony or losing the ring on the cab ride over to the Pontchartrain Hotel, I was excited about the climatic moment. I was proposing with a ring that included a diamond from my grandmother’s 1945 engagement ring. I thought about how the ring was found somewhere, mined, casted and bought to her and ultimately me. It was a powerful moment because this was something that was in my family for 72 years.

There is something special about an heirloom diamond that has been passed down generation to generation – a ring that stays in a family for a lifetime. Or the fact a natural diamond spends millions, if not billions, of years under pressure in the ground waiting. There an entire story that goes with a diamond ring. It is only after an eternity that it is found and ultimately placed on her finger. There is something contagiously powerful about that story of a diamond’s birth, resurrection and ultimate resting place on her ring finger. That story loses its luster when you think of a lab and lab coats.

Lab-grown diamonds are not unique in the same sense that a natural diamond is. They may have many of the similar characteristics and may look similar, but a lab-created diamond does not contain the rarity that every diamond possesses. The uniqueness and allure of any natural diamond is how it is one-of-a-kind.

And real.

In addition to its sentimental value, a natural diamond holds real value over the generations that fluctuates by the market. A lab-created diamond has no real value, other than the initial purchasing cost, due to being man-made. When you ask for one’s hand in marriage, the powerful moment is not exclusively the proposal, but the timeless stone itself.

And if you like lab-created because they are “conflict-free” under that since the Clean Diamond Trade Act was signed by George W. Bush on April 23, 2003, nearly 99.9% of diamonds in the market are conflict-free. More so, over 74 countries have put into their national law the Kimberly Process Certification System, a elaborate regulatory system that drastically helps reduce importation of conflict diamonds. And in nations such as Botswana, a country of over 2 million, the diamond industry is the second biggest employer. In the 1990s, Nike dealt with a similar issue. Reports of factories with sweatshop-like condition caused severe backlash on the company. Ultimately, it led to drastic changes that improved conditions in factories and led to better product.

Still, 99.9% is not enough. Much like the diamond itself, perfection is always, and continuously, driven for.