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HomeEntertainmentQueer couples trade diamonds for subversive stones in engagement rings

Queer couples trade diamonds for subversive stones in engagement rings


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The New York Times

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According to jewelry designer Lori Linkous Devine, “salt and pepper” diamonds [acinzentados] used to be difficult to sell. “In the past, they were the rejected diamonds,” said Devine, who uses a gender-neutral term as a courtesy title. The gray color of the stones and their opacity were seen as flaws.

Devine, who lives in Seattle, has been making jewelry for “all genders and gender identities” since 2010. In 2016, he/she began advertising the products of the company he founded, Lolide, specifically for LGBTQ customers. “It was after Trump was elected and I had a complete meltdown,” Devine said. “I started thinking about what I could do in my business to create a good feeling.”

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Devine soon noticed a trend among LGBTQ customers, who say they now account for at least a quarter of their business. When they buy engagement rings, many of them want “the opposite of what a diamond used to mean,” she said, and so they “look for the flaw.” As a result, say Devine and other experts, once-neglected stones such as salt and pepper diamonds, as well as other nontraditional varieties, have gained demand.

“The time when we wanted to look like everyone is behind us,” said Kristen Palladino, who, with his wife, Maria Palladino, runs Equally Wed, a digital magazine focused on LGBTQ marriages. “The trend among the couples we feature at Equally Wed is to wear jewelry that is special to them.”


When Tim Bell, human resources manager at Prudential Financial, and Joshua Farrar, senior associate in client operations at Daybreak Health, got engaged in March, Bell, 30, proposed wearing a cheap ring, knowing that Farrar, 29, wanted to choose. a suitable engagement ring on your own.

The ring Farrar sought was unconventional. As a gay man, “I have been defying what was expected of me all my life,” he said, adding that “the symbol of love on my left hand needs to be a reflection of that.” Another requirement was that the ring had a stone.

Farrar, who lives with Bell in New York, said that “a regular engagement diamond, a crystalline stone,” did not interest him. Instead, what attracted him were “cognac” diamonds, whose hue range includes gold, brown and amber, and which Farrar said “achieved the masculine and feminine quality” he sought in a center stone.

When Farrar visited jewelry stores in New York’s diamond trading district, jewelers questioned his preferences for “cognac” diamonds, saying their saturated color makes them inferior in clarity, a traditional marker of a diamond’s quality. “That’s not what you want,” Farrar said he heard from jewelers. “Yes, that’s what I want,” he replied.

Farrar decided to extend his search to Automic Gold, a jewelry brand in New York whose existence he discovered on Instagram. Exchanging emails with the line’s designer, AL Sandimirova, known for creating inclusive jewelry, Farrar shared her vision for her engagement ring.

Sandimirova presented Farrar with a selection of “cognac” diamonds, as well as a “salt and pepper” diamond. Farrar said that this last stone “spoke to his heart”, which is why he chose a “salt and pepper” diamond for his ring.

A salt and pepper diamond was also the stone chosen by Roxy Valle, 31, who poses as a drag king and works in television production, when creating an engagement ring for Taylor Orci, 39, a television writer and script editor. . The couple, who live in Los Angeles, wed in July.

Valle, who is transgender and non-binary, mentioned the fact that the stone strayed from convention as one of the reasons he chose to wear it in the ring created for Orci, who is also non-binary. Valle also liked the more subtle sparkle of the “salt and pepper” diamond, compared to a regular stone.

“There’s a reflection of granite, shiny but also robust and rough,” said Valle, who paid $2,250 for the ring, bought at Kris Averi, a jewelry store in New York.

Haley Biemiller, one of the founders of the Venvs jewelry line, which specializes in “atypical” stones such as “salt and pepper” diamonds, said another style favored by queer customers was moissanite. Grown in labs, moissanite is more like a clear diamond, and is almost as durable, Biemiller explained, but “shimmers a little brighter, like a rainbow.” A half-carat moissanite sells for around US$400 at Venvs, while a 2.25-carat stone sells for around US$1,500, according to Sam Indelicato, the other founder of Venvs. line.

Biemiller and Indelicato created Venvs in Rochester, New York, in 2020, after Biemiller’s experience of buying an engagement ring for his same-sex partner. At the jewelry store she visited, Biemiller said she felt neglected by the sales team, some of whom made a point of serving a man first, who entered the store after her.

“They assume a woman is just a showcase,” Biemiller said. “So they don’t pay any attention to him.”


While salt and pepper diamonds and moissanite have become popular, jewelers like Kris Harvey, the designer of Kris Averi, say most of their LGBTQ customers looking for stone engagement rings prefer varieties that don’t relate to diamonds. and they are not even like them. These customers tend to choose sapphires — and often Montana sapphires.

Although sapphires are known for their blue color, the color of Montana sapphires can be yellow, pink, gray or blue-green. Like traditional sapphires, the Montana variety can be bicolored, meaning an individual stone is two shades, and some can change color depending on the light, said Emily Chelsea, who is a jewelry designer in Philadelphia.

“The Montana sapphires I tend to show are usually three colors,” Chelsea said, adding that Montana sapphire rings in her line start at $1,500 and can go up to $8,500. 9 thousand).

LGBTQ customers account for 65% of Chelsea’s sales and are generally uninterested in following heteronormative traditions. “It’s not something we see a lot,” Chelsea said. “What we always tell people is to do what they want.”

Although their appearance is different from diamonds, sapphires are almost as durable. The same cannot be said for opal, a vibrant but softer stone, which many jewelers say has become another alternative to diamonds. “Queer people really like all the unique, shiny, colorful stones,” said Sandimirova of Automic Gold, where one-carat Ethiopian opals cost about $180 and one-carat Australian opals, whose quality is higher, they cost US$ 750 (R$ 4,000).

Because opals are about twice as soft as diamonds, they are more susceptible to breakage and can start to deteriorate within two years, Sandimirova said. For these reasons, Devine, a designer at Lolide, doesn’t make rings out of opals, and Biemiller urges customers to consider something sturdier.

Moss agate, which is a little harder than opal, also experienced a surge in demand. The stone can be transparent or have an almost translucent milky-white hue, and features fine green inclusions that give it a mossy appearance. Allison Ullmer said she is a popular choice among LGBTQ customers at Ringed, her company in Portland, Oregon, which runs workshops for couples who want to make their own engagement rings.

Ringed’s agate rings weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 carats and sell for between $250 and $400. As the stone can also start to deteriorate within a few years, Ullmer requires customers who want to purchase it to buy two versions of his rings (one for reserve).

Ullmer, who said that LGBTQ customers made up nearly 40% of his buyers, attributed “moss” agate’s appeal to the stone being less flashy and more “gender neutral” than others used in engagement rings.

She added that when a customer approached Ringed to ask for gender-neutral jewelry, the first thing she did was ask the customer to define the term. “I don’t want to have to guess how the customer defines it,” said Ullmer.

Harvey said defining gender-neutral jewelry can be difficult even for some of her customers who order them. That’s why choosing an engagement ring, she added, is “honoring your identity, from your introduction to your pronouns,” no matter the stone, cut or metal.

At Emily Chelsea’s Philadelphia jewelry store and her brand’s website, “we do not define any of our rings as engagement rings or wedding bands or wedding rings for men or women,” the jeweler said. Instead, the company uses the term “broad rings”, “thin rings”; and “centerstone alliances,” which brings to mind the more inclusive language some couples are using to define themselves and their unions. As Chelsea said, “Anyone can wear any ring.”

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I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have been an author at News Bulletin 247 for the past 2 years. I mostly cover politics news. I am a highly experienced and respected journalist. I have won numerous awards for my work.

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