This guide will give you the information you need to choose the perfect gemstone for your alternative engagement ring!
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: Diamond
There’s a reason that diamonds are used most often as engagement rings. As far as scratch resistance goes, it’s the best. Did you know that diamonds come in every color of the rainbow? You’ve all heard about Jennifer Lopez’s pink diamond and you know that the Hope Diamond is blue. There’s every other color of diamond out there too, so choose your favorite color and head to the altar!
This is an orange diamond 3 stone ring from TapByToddPownell.
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: Sapphire and Ruby
Aside from diamond, the next most scratch resistant stones are sapphire and ruby. Did you know that sapphires come in every single color of the rainbow? (By the way, ruby and sapphires are the same stone. They’re both corundum. The red variety is called ruby and every other color is called sapphire.)
If you love the look of black diamonds but don’t want a diamond, sapphires come in black.
Shauna Blythe Burke makes these cool alternative designs. Some are made with black diamond, but I’m sure she’d set a black sapphire if you really wanted one.
If you want the look of a champagne diamond or pink diamond or regular white, clear diamond, there’s a sapphire that comes in that color. Sapphire and ruby are THE BEST CHOICES for an alternative gemstone in an engagement ring. They are scratch resistant and come in many colors.
Here’s a Montana Sapphire from Judi Powers. Judi uses ethically and sustainably sourced gemstones and precious metals in her designs.
If you want moral and ethical options related to mining and diamonds, please see my previous blog- Alternative Engagement Rings: The Guide to Solving Moral Issues.
Why not stack both ruby and sapphire together and mix yellow gold and platinum with these rings by David Walter?
Maybe you’d prefer this David Walter’s band with sapphires in the curvature that resembles a crown for your finger?
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: None at all!
Who said you need an engagement ring with a gemstone? Why not just use one amazing band that will be a future heirloom? Maybe even engrave the inside like a Posey ring?
David Walter worked for Schlumberger and Buccellati. His craftsmanship is impeccable. Do I want something he made? Yes!! This is a ring with the Florentine finish that he made for Buccellati, for instance.
Marla Aaron makes these fabulous rings based on ancient designs with secret love messages engraved inside. You can engrave ANY message you’d like in them!
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: Chrysoberyl
Here’s some good news for antique lovers. Chrysoberyl is an 8.50 on the Mohs’s scale. (The Mohs’s scale determines “hardness” or scratch resistance in gemstones. See my previous blog). If you love antique rings, a Georgian Chrysoberyl would be a great option!
Here’s a Georgian chrysoberyl ring I just acquired. It has over 200 years of wear over multiple lifetimes and the gemstones are still in great shape!
Remember that some antique stones were set with foil behind the stones in the Georgian Era and it’s not good to get the rings wet because of this. If you don’t think you can remember to remove your rings before being in water, this is not an option for you. Look for new rings in which you can set a chrysoberyl.
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: Spinel and Topaz
Going down the list of Mohs’s scale hardness is spinel and topaz. These stones are an 8. Spinel is another great option because it’s a very sparkly stone. Fun Fact: Did you know that the “ruby” in the crown of England’s Crown Jewels is actually a red spinel.
This would be an amazing engagement ring style from David Walter with a purple spinel in the center.
Spinel and topaz come in a variety of colors so you’ve got plenty of color options. They even come in colorless, so you can have the look of diamond without the diamond.
Alternative Engagement Ring Gemstone: Garnet
Garnets are the last option I would use for an alternative engagement ring gemstone. They are pretty scratch and chip resistant as these rings from HeartsofSolidGold attest to in this picture. All the rings here are antiques and have certainly withstood the test of time. Remember that garnets also come in a variety of colors including green!
Gemstones Below 7.50 on the Moh’s Scale
Now, not to be a stick in the mud, but I feel I have to be responsible and give you one more piece of information.
Scratch resistance isn’t the only consideration. Gemstones do chip and break. It’s one thing to think that your stone can scratch, but it’s another thing to know that your stone can fall out of the setting entirely. I’m going to get a little technical and give you the low down dirty truth on what other people either don’t know or won’t tell you to make a sale. Gemstones are held in place by prongs, bezels, or channels. Often, when you hit a gemstone, it will chip at the prong or channel that’s holding the stone. Once the chip occurs, the prong or channel isn’t holding the gemstone at that point (it isn’t holding anything anymore) and it’s very easy for the stone to fall out of the setting entirely. If you have a channel set ring with other stones set in the channel, that means that the other stones being held in place are no longer secure and can also fall out. Bezel set stones are more protected from falling out, but that can still happen. (Bezel set stones also don’t sparkle as much as other setting techniques because light can’t enter the stone through the sides to make the gem shine it’s brightest.) There’s no way to set a gemstone to give it 100% security from falling out. Don’t think about this in terms of finding a fool-proof setting. There isn’t one. The best way to protect your stone is prevention. Have your ring professionally checked to determine if repairs need to be done. Most jewelers will check your ring for free as often as you want it done. They will even clean your ring while you’re there! Catching problems before they become problems is the best strategy for so many things in life, jewelry among them.
That being said, I want to tell you that I’m not here to stop you from getting your heart’s desire in an engagement ring. If you really want a gemstone that isn’t a diamond and fully understand the pros and cons, then by all means get what you love. If you go into this knowing that it is a process and you will need replacement gemstones over the course of your life, then I’m all for you having what you want. (See previous blog on What Gemstones To Avoid for more information on this topic.)
Alternative Engagement Rings For Men
I’m also all for men having what they want and men want alternative engagement rings these days too. There are great options out there for men.
Look to TapbyToddPownell for a lot of great looks for men and women.
Shauna Blythe Burke makes this cool engagement ring for men.
Michael Boyd makes some really great designs suitable for men and women. If you don’t want a diamond because everyone has one and you think they’re boring, how about these rings with diamond slices?
Most designers will make matching or coordinating pendants and earrings for your alternative engagement ring so you can have complete sets! Here are the coordinating earrings to Michael Boyd’s rings above.
Don’t forget your local jewelry store in this search for men’s options. The Parisian Flea made these two matching engagement rings/wedding bands for two grooms this past year. Both are white gold with reclaimed estate 1ct princess cut diamonds in them.
The truth is there are so many really great designs being made by people who KNOW jewelry that you have an endless supply. I’m going to leave you with some food for thought.
Here are a handful of two stone rings by TappbyToddPownell.
I started a conversation with an Instagram follower Nickilikespie who has a TappbyToddPownell inverted diamond engagement ring (setting the diamond upside down so the facets react to light similarly to rose cut diamonds). Her husband is wearing a band that Todd made. Thanks for letting me include your great picture!
Along the same theme as two stone rings is the antique version of Toi et Moi (you and me) rings with one stone representing one partner and the other stone in place for the other partner. This is the famous one that Napoleon gave to Josephine. It’s the perfect opportunity to include a gemstone in an alternative engagement ring.
This setting by Anthony Lent is all ready for whatever gemstones you’d like including reclaimed diamonds!
Below is a smattering of designs in which you could put any suitable gemstone from Zaiken Jewelry’s Throwing Stones Collection.
This is an amazing setting style I fell in love with over dinner one night from Russell Jones Fine Jewelry. This particular one has an emerald in it. Fortunately for all of us, he’s a great jeweler and can make this in any suitable gemstone for everyday wear and in any size gemstone you’d like!
That’s the good thing about good jewelers. They can do ANYTHING for your alternative engagement ring! So find a good jeweler you like and start making your dream ring! It’s easier than you think it is!
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