10 Alternatives to Diamond Engagement Rings: Dare to Be Different
Nowadays, millions of designs of engagement rings are available in the market, but people often get basically the same stereotype diamond engagement ring. There are actually plenty of great alternatives to diamond engagement rings so we shouldn’t allow stereotypes to limit our choices.
Wearing the engagement ring should not only become a symbol of love between a married couple but also be able to reflect your personal style to make it more unique and one of a kind. From fashion-forward rings to vintage designs to dazzling gemstone colors, the trending non-traditional engagement rings offer an element of distinction to become stunning alternatives to classic diamond engagement rings.
There are no rules when it comes to selecting the perfect gemstone for your engagement ring. But style and durability are still the two main factors you should consider when finding excellent alternatives that feature their own properties and match your personal style.
What Qualifies as An Engagement Ring?
There is no specific rule that dictates an engagement ring must have a particular stone or design, almost any ring can be an engagement ring. The only thing matters is that you and your partner love it and would like to use the ring as a symbol of love.
Historically, engagements were not associated with diamond rings and did not even become popular before 1947. The reason why people often think diamond rings should be used for engagement is because of the classic slogan “A Diamond is Forever” that was launched in 1947 by De Beers. Since then, diamonds have been widely known as the universal symbol of eternal love and commitment and it has been a custom to use diamonds in engagement rings.
Do Engagement Rings Have to Be Diamond?
There is no rule stating that people must buy a diamond ring for engagement. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities who have opted to buck the diamond tradition for something a little more non-traditional. All the way back to 1839, Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with an emerald that resembled a snake signifying everlasting love for eternity. Queen Vitoria’s ring becomes one of the most iconic Victorian motifs in jewelry and set a trend throughout England.
Over the years, it is more common to see celebrities who in favor of something a touch more outside the box with non-diamond engagement rings. Whether it’s a gemstone like a sapphire or an emerald, or something that’s more unique like tanzanite. Academy Award winner Halle Berry was proposed with a stunning 4-carat emerald ring that features an unusual setting that is one of a kind.
Using different gems for engagement rings are more common as times change. People are moving away from the traditions of the past and embracing a new world of individuality with non-traditional engagement rings that are not a diamond.
Top 10 Best Diamond Alternatives for Engagement Rings and Why
Though diamonds are a girl’s best friend for centuries, but times are changing. Nowadays, colored gemstones are a popular trend that continues and many celebrities and royals have chosen colored gemstones like ruby and emerald for their engagement rings.
Many grooms do feel they should splash out on the traditional diamond engagement rings because of the limited choices of gemstone color, blood diamond facts or people who simply don’t want too much pressure to buy an expensive engagement ring.
We do not consider diamond simulants or lab-created diamond alternatives like moissanite and cubic zirconia in this article because they are just diamond lookalikes. The diamond simulant industry is full of dishonest vendors. Other than its a relatively less-expensive option than natural diamonds from an economic standpoint, diamond simulants do not convey good meanings as a gemstone for an engagement ring. Every bride would prefer a ring that is natural and unique on the big day. We shouldn’t try to be like someone else, same as not wearing a ring with diamond imitation unless you only want something like diamond and budget is your only concern.
So why not consider some colored gems like sapphires that are also quite durable for everyday wear and it comes in a wide range of colors that will suit your personal style or story to help you create a piece of jewelry that is intensely meaningful and symbolic. Trends fade, your story as a couple doesn’t, so why not consider some of the diamond alternatives for a popular non-traditional engagement ring that can incorporate your story into an engagement ring that suits you better.
Criteria for selecting the best diamond alternatives
Physical properties, uniqueness and perfect symbolism are all important for selecting the best diamond alternatives. When it comes to durability or wearability for engagement rings, one of the most important measurements of gemstone durability is the hardness which is measured on a scale known as the Mohs Scale between 1 (softest) and 10 (hardest). The best diamond alternatives should have relatively high hardness towards 10 but we have to make a trade-off among cost, durability and style.
The acceptable range of gem hardness for engagement rings that is intended for everyday wear over a period of years is between 7 to 10. Since diamond is the hardest gemstone with a hardness equal to 10. The acceptable harness range for engagement rings using diamond alternatives should be between 7-9 with some exceptions.
If durability is not your concerns because the ring can be worn with care or you may only wear the ring for special occasions, then some unique softer gems like tanzanite with a hardness around 7 can also be set in rings with a protective setting by surrounding the gem with a lot of metal or use protective settings such as a bezel.
|Recommended Engagement Ring Gem Hardness Scale||Wearability||Occasions|
|9||Excellent||Suitable for a long-term daily wear engagement ring|
|7.5-8||Very Good||Within the limits for engagement rings for any occasions|
|≥7||Good||Suitable engagement rings which are worn more occasionally, or for daily wear rings with protective settings|
We’ve come up with the top 10 best diamond alternatives that will look just as precious as a diamond engagement ring to add sparkle to your big day. If you’re looking for unique non-traditional engagement rings, here are 10 great gemstones listed in an order based on the Mohs Hardness Scale from highest to lowest within the recommended hardness range of engagement rings.
Sapphires are a precious gemstone and a variety of the mineral corundum. Sapphire without any color prefix commonly refers to the blue variety of the corundum, though sapphires do appear in a range of other color varieties. While blue sapphires are most popular, the most valuable color of sapphire is a cornflower blue color, known as Kashmir Sapphire.
Sapphire engagement rings are trending popular in recent years. Sapphires have a rating of 9 on the Mohs scale of relative hardness that means sapphires are great gemstones for everyday wear for jewelry pieces like engagement rings to last a lifetime.
Generally speaking, sapphires are less expensive than diamonds with similar shapes and carat weights. For couples who are looking for a larger size of their center stone with a certain budget, sapphires can be a great alternative to diamonds to allow you to get a larger center stone at a lower cost. But please bear in mind that sapphires are usually heavier than diamonds, so one carat sapphire can look slightly smaller than one carat diamond.
Sapphire was named after the Greek word “sapphirus” meaning blue. Sapphire has long symbolized truth, sincerity and faithfulness. Additionally, the legends of sapphires make them increasingly more desirable. In ancient times, people believed that the world was set upon an enormous sapphire that painted the sky blue with its reflection. So sapphire engagement ring also symbolizes the romantic moment of letting the blue sky witness your love. The symbolism of sapphire makes it a perfect gemstone for an engagement ring and can be a great alternative to a diamond.
Rubies have excellent toughness and no cleavage with a hardness of 9. Rubies and sapphires are two primary gem varieties of the mineral corundum, which can scratch almost every other mineral other than diamond. Theoretically, a ruby can’t scratch a sapphire and vice versa because they both have the same hardness. Thus, ruby can be used for engagement rings for everyday wear and it will remain and lustrous for years or potentially a lifetime.
Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum. Rubies are always red and gemstone-quality corundum in all shades of red, including pink, are called rubies. The color red on rubies has long symbolized passion, love and life. Rubies can actually glow under sunlight, ruby fluorescence can be observed under UV light to make people think the stones are live and contain fire to represent love and passion. The symbolism of ruby makes it a perfect engagement ring gemstone.
Ruby engagement rings are trending in recent years and always get love from celebrities and royalty because it’s an extremely durable stone and high-quality rubies are actually much rarer than diamonds to make engagement rings with rubies as the centre stone become more unique and stand out. Jessica Simpson’s engagement ring features a 5 carat ruby center stone. Princess Margaret was proposed with a ruby ring made to resemble a flower in 1960. The rarity, durability and beauty make rubies become one of the best alternatives to diamonds.
Topaz engagement rings have been a popular alternative to traditional diamond engagement rings. Topaz has a large color range and can be cut in many different shapes and sizes to offer countless combinations of designs. Topaz comes in at 8/10 on the Mohs scale of hardness means it’s durable and has great resistance to scratching, but a hard blow might split it. It’s recommended to use protective ring settings like a bezel to keep topaz safe from knocks or extreme pressure to make it suitable for everyday wear.
Topaz is believed to be one of the most powerful gemstones for its protective and healing power that calms tumultuous emotions. Blue topaz also conveys the meaning of love and good fortune that can promote positive communication, openness and honesty, helping couples grow in communication and spirituality through life. Thus, topaz engagement rings are great for strengthening you and your loved one’s spiritual journey.
Topaz is far more affordable than diamonds but it’s just as bright as its diamond counterpart. If you have a limited budget and looking for creative engagement ideas. The versatile topaz with a wide range of colors can be a great alternative for diamonds.
Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. Although their toughness is considered as generally poor, emerald is actually quite scratch resistant so they are pretty durable for everyday wear and can be used as the gemstone for engagement rings. In comparison with diamonds, emeralds offer green flashes instead of the rainbow sparkle from diamonds. Emerald does not reflect as much as diamond, but many people were amazed by the stunning emerald glowing effect which is formed when the light makes an eye-clean emerald brighten and almost glow.
Emerald symbolizes not only royalty but also wit and foresight. The emerald is a gorgeous green gemstone that was known in Ancient Greeks and it quickly became associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Aphrodite was the first to recognize emerald as a symbol of eternal love. Emerald has long been regarded as a superior jewel, the history and symbolism of emerald make it become one of the best gemstones for engagement rings.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see celebrities prefer emerald as the engagement gemstone rather than diamond. From Halle Berry’s gorgeous emerald-cut emerald engagement ring to Victoria Beckham’s stunning cushion cut emerald engagement that comes with a unique Art Deco emerald halo. Though diamonds are still a girl’s best friend as a classic choice, emerald engagement rings are a trend that continues to show up on many celebrities’ ring fingers.
Tourmaline has a wide range of colors ranging from colorless to brown. Blue, red and pink are some of the most popular hues of tourmaline. Blue tourmalines are much rarer than tourmalines in other colors. Red and pink tourmalines can imitate ruby but at a much more affordable price range.
Tourmaline has a hardness of 7 to 7.5, it may not be the most durable gemstone but it should hold up well in an engagement ring setting and durable enough for everyday wear. If you are concerned about durability, choosing a protective gem setting like a bezel setting can effectively protect the outer edge of the tourmaline to keep it safe from knocks and scratches.
There are many reasons that make tourmaline a great gemstone for engagement rings. One of the unique things about tourmaline is that it fluoresces a range of different colors depending on its crystal growth and the light source. The crystal growth for every piece of tourmaline is different and tourmaline is also a strongly dichroic gemstone, it will show different colors under different light sources or you are viewing the stone from a different angle. All of these factors are making tourmaline more unique and stand out.
Tourmaline colors can satisfy almost any fashion requirement. With only slight brittleness and no cleavage, tourmaline can be a great alternative for diamond engagement rings with more choices of colors to suit your personal style.
Tsavorite is an emerald-green variety of the garnet family with colors ranging from light to deep green. It’s one of the most expensive and popular varieties of garnet. For people who prefer to go with a green gemstone for their engagement ring as opposed to the traditional colorless diamond, tsavorite can be a great choice.
Tsavorite has a Mohs scale hardness rating of 7-7.5 so it’s therefore very durable and suitable as the gemstone of engagement rings. Although tsavorite’s hardness scale is slightly below emerald, it’s actually more stable and can be faceted into many stylish designs.
People often compare tsavorites to emeralds. The main differences are tsavorite has a high refractive index so it reflects light much more brilliantly than an emerald and a tsavorite rarely carries inclusions thus it’s tougher than an emerald by resisting breakage more effectively. From an affordability point of view, tsavorites are more affordable than emeralds and diamonds. Therefore, tsavorites are not only a great alternative to diamonds but also emeralds for engagement rings.
Garnet is a relatively strong and durable gemstone with a hardness between 6.5-7.5 that is suitable for engagement rings to hold up well in everyday wear over a period of years. Garnet is commonly known to be red with plenty of eye-catching flash and fire. Garnet gemstone is not only a great alternative to diamond but also an affordable alternative to expensive ruby gemstone for stunning red engagement rings.
For people who love non-traditional engagement rings, creativity can be one of the key elements that they are looking for. Garnet is known for carrying the energy of creativity and passion because it’s a sensual stone representing primordial fire, purification and love to spill with emotion and authentic expression. Thus, the symbolism of garnet makes perfect associations for an engagement ring.
Garnet actually has a wide right of colors other than red. Red is considered as the most common garnet color while blue is the rarest. There is a very uncommon type of garnet that can change color to make these stones unique and extremely valuable. If you are looking to add some creative touch to the engagement ring, The garnet engagement ring can be a great alternative for diamond engagement rings.
Amethyst is one of the very few stones with unique purple coloration and it’s great for customers who prefer unconventional engagement ring choices by choosing birthstones or other colored gemstones rather than diamond. Amethyst has a Mohs hardness of 7 so it’s appropriate for everyday wear but the stone may show wear over the years and repolishing can be required.
Nowadays, amethyst engagement rings have become a great alternative for engagement rings. The change in preference is mainly driven by the personalized options associated with amethyst and affordability. Many unique design options are using amethyst as the center stone surrounding with accent stones along with a protective gem setting to help the prized jewelry piece last a lifetime. For example, a bezel-set amethyst center stone with channel-set stones on the sides can be a perfect protective setting for amethyst engagement rings with the right balance between durability and style.
The desirable deep purple color of amethyst represents the purity of spirit. Amethyst rings are believed to have mentally calming effects to enhance clarity of thought. Throughout history, amethyst was regarded as a protective stone. If you are looking for engagement rings with plenty of personalized options within a reasonable budget, amethyst stones are a great choice than their diamond counterparts.
Citrine is the transparent yellow to brown variety of quartz and it’s different from yellow topaz. Citrine has a Mohs hardness rating of 7 and has good toughness so it’s not easily scratched and durable enough as the gemstone for engagement rings during daily wear.
Citrine attracts love, happiness and promotes solutions and cohesiveness for interpersonal relationships. Thus, it’s perfect to use citrine as the gemstone for engagement rings to enhance communication between couples.
Citrine is also known as the Merchant’s Stone and it’s associated with monetary success and fortune. The yellow golden color of citrine is believed to be able to uplift the spirit and lighten depression and sadness. For couples involved in business ventures, particularly new business that requires interaction with new clients or partners, citrine is a fantastic alternative to diamond because citrine is also considered as a wealth attracting stone in feng shui that will bring you luck. The durability and perfect meaning of citrine are all making it great for an engagement ring.
Tanzanite is a rare blue gemstone that is much rarer than a diamond but tanzanite is also quite affordable at the current market condition. Tanzanite can only be found and produced commercially in just one place on earth, northern Tanzania. Thus, the name reflects the gem’s limited geographic origin.
Tanzanite is also being considering as the second most popular blue gemstone after sapphire. Tanzanite has a Mohs hardness rating of 6.5 to 7.0, it’s not as tough as diamond or sapphire. But it’s an appropriate gem for engagement rings, given that it will be worn with special care.
In comparison with the rainbow sparkle from diamond, tanzanite exhibits a very special characteristic known as trichroism that means the stone’s color can vary between blue, violet and burgundy when viewed under different lighting conditions or vary with the direction of light. Tanzanites appear almost sapphire blue in natural light and may appear more violet in fluorescent light. Their blue to violet color becomes the most coveted property of tanzanites.
Tanzanites are gaining popularity as the gemstone for engagement rings because its rarity, beauty and characteristics. The finest grades of tanzanites will likely see continued price inflation because of the low supply due to their rarity and increasing demand in the US and other markets. We also expect to see the big watershed for Tanzanite prices once it’s minded out. Thus, tanzanite engagement rings are not only a symbol of eternal truth and love but also can be a potential investment for the future.
What's the Best Diamond Alternative?
There are plenty of great alternatives to natural diamonds available in the market, you might wonder what’s the best diamond alternative and what is the best stone for an engagement ring? Actually, there are no rules of thumb to identify the best alternative for diamonds because every person’s situation is different and everyone has those small little things that they care about when choosing an engagement to represent their symbol of love.
People often search for non-traditional engagement rings or non-diamond engagement rings due to the following two reasons:
- Not every bride wants to stay traditional diamond rings on the big day. Diamonds were rare about 200 years ago until the British empire colonized Africa and diamonds were found to be everywhere. Thus, some people don’t want diamonds at all and want to choose a ring that is unique for themselves. Those people are not afraid to try something different than everyone else.
- People who do not wish to spend the typical three-month salary for an engagement or they are on a budget to save for a car or a house after marriage.
If you want to opt for colors, distinct cuts and styles that better suit your personality and you have a reasonable amount of budget to spend. Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald are our top 3 picks as the gemstone for a non-traditional engagement ring because these gemstones are almost durable enough like diamonds to hold up to daily wear and can be used to make eye-catching non-traditional engagement rings with unlimited design options. Additionally, it could be a subtle symbol or birthstone that holds special significance to you or your loved one.
For couples who really want to shy away from something that was going to cost them a lot of money but still have the beauty that they could carry on for decades to come. Our top 3 picks as the best diamond alternative are tourmaline, topaz and tanzanite because they are durable enough as the gemstones of engagement rings for daily wear and they feature unique colors and a splash of individually. Especially for tanzanite, why not try this rich blue rare gemstone that can only be found in one place on earth?
Lastly, there is no right or wrong answer when you are searching for the perfect engagement ring as long as it’s an informed decision that fits your personal situation and preference. Again, the only thing matters is that you and your partner love it. So don’t be afraid to choose what’s different than everyone else. Check our latest range of non-traditional engagement rings, we have plenty of stunning pieces that are waiting for you to explore!