The Engagement Ring: this may be the most important piece of jewelry you will buy in your life. While you may or may not want it to look the same as the traditional diamond rings you’ve seen, you will want it to be practical and durable. Fortunately there are unconventional gemstone options to create an alternative engagement ring that will stand up to everyday wear, and really stand out from the crowd.
Clear, clean diamonds will always be popular, meanwhile colored gemstones and uncommon designs are gaining momentum as unusual engagement rings become more widespread. Check out Blake Lively’s pink diamond, Eva Longoria’s Ruby, Halle Berry’s emerald and Kate Middleton’s sapphire. Whether you are searching for something less traditional, budgeting, or you want to shake it up with some color, there are plenty of alternatives to the ever-present diamond engagement ring.
Without further ado, here’s a list of our favorite gemstones for engagement rings:
1. Colored Diamond
(Yellow diamond in red gold)
Yes, we know diamond is what you’d expect, but it has to be at the top of the list if only because it is simply the brightest and hardest. Diamonds come in a variety of cuts, sizes, and colors. Natural diamonds are found in pink, blue, green, purple, orange, yellow and more colors. Natural diamonds can even be irradiated yielding many more vivid color options.
To ethically source diamonds the Kimberly Process continues to be important. Other ethical options are Canadian diamonds and man-made or lab created real diamonds.
(heart shaped moissanite ring)
If you are looking for durable, sparkly, colorless and budget friendly, moissanite (lab created Silicon Carbide) is a great alternative to diamond. It is nearly as hard as diamond, but with a much more manageable price point. Hey, that means you’ll have more room in your budget for a beautiful engagement ring setting!
(cornflower blue sapphire ring)
Sapphire (corundum) is the nearest in hardness and durability to diamond and moissanite. It is also far and away the most popular gemstone for colored engagement rings. Princess Di’s amazing blue sapphire engagement ring relaunched an old trend that has become a classic again. But blue is not the only color of sapphire. It comes in nearly every other color you could dream of: golden sapphire, color-changing purple sapphire, padparadscha sapphire… every color except red which is ruby.
(ruby with yellow and white diamonds)
The intense red color of ruby is emotional, invoking passion and love – apropos when it comes to engagement rings! This classic gemstone is a timeless favorite. Ancient cultures associated rubies with blood and believed the gem contained the power of life. Ruby, like sapphire, is the mineral corundum and is a 9 on the Moh’s hardness scale.
(emerald cabochon with ‘jardin’)
The popularity of emerald engagement rings is on the rise. While emerald may not be the toughest or hardest stone, it does have an allure that can be hard to resist. The green gem famously captured the passion of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. Even its flaws are referred to, in French no less, as beautiful ‘jardin’, meaning garden.
(green tourmaline with diamonds)
Tourmaline is a gem known for its countless vivid colors including flattering pinks, reds, vibrant blue-greens, and even the brilliant ‘Windex blue’ of the rare Paraiba tourmaline. You can even find a single gems with more than one color – perfect for the indecisive bride! And at a 7-7.5 in hardness it can stand up to the challenges of daily wear.
(red spinel with diamonds)
Spinel is a natural and beautiful gemstone most famous for it’s red variety, which was often mistaken for ruby before scientific analysis. Although much more rare than ruby, spinel is less expensive. With a hardness of 8, excellent clarity, and a range of natural colors including reds, pinks, purples and blues, a spinel engagement ring is an excellent choice for everyday wear.
(mali garnet with diamonds)
The classic red garnet can be a good alternative for those who love red, but don’t have the budget for a true ruby. But garnet doesn’t only come in red. Demantoid and Tsavorite garnets are intensely green. Mali garnets are yellow, olive and brownish tones. Spessartite garnets can be mandarin orange.
(aquamarine with diamonds)
Aquamarine is the blue variety of the mineral beryl, as emerald is the green and morganite the pink. This flattering gem ranges from light sky blue to deep ocean blue and looks great with all skin tones. Aquamarine crystals grow large and clear, allowing for substantial gems to be cut.
If a gemstone is really meaningful to you but you don’t see it on this list, don’t let that stop you! The perfect centerpiece for your alternative engagement ring is the one that is special to you. It could be a colored gem, a beach pebble, a family heirloom…
So, what’s your favorite gemstone? We’d love to hear about your ideal engagement ring! Share your thoughts and comments below!
Interested in seeing some gemstones up close and personal? We are here to help!