Diamonds may be some girls’ best friend, but they’re not for everyone.
Yes, they’re beautiful, durable, sparkly and timeless. But, they’re also rather expensive and perhaps a little too classic if you’re the kind of bride or groom who wants to wear something different on your ring finger.
If you’re on the hunt for a unique engagement ring, you’ve come to the right place! As lovers of off-beat wedding style, consider Bridal Musings guidebook for non-traditional wedding rings.
Many brides & grooms do feel they have to splash out on the traditional sparkler when it comes to popping the question. But the modern custom for diamond rings that cost three months’ salary was actually only introduced as a marketing campaign by acclaimed jeweler, De Beers back in the 1930s. And, it stuck!
But you don’t have to follow suit. We’ve witnessed the rise of the anti-engagement ring. And there are some pretty incredible alternative types of stones for rings.
Whether it’s a clear moissanite stone as sparkly as a diamond (no one has to know!) or a colored sapphire stone that will set your ring apart, we’ve come up with 22 gorgeous diamond alternative gems that will look just as precious as a diamond engagement ring, when you say “Yes!”. We’ve also covered each diamond alternative gem’s durability, so you know which are the best stones for engagement rings. No doubt by the end you’ll have chosen a beautiful ring for her or a gorgeous ring for him.
This pretty purple stone is often designed in a raw state. But, if it’s well-cut, amythest can look truly beautiful in fine jewelry.
At 7 on the Mohs scale (diamonds are 10), Amethysts may not be quite as hard, but they’re still very durable and a fraction of the price. Pair the lavender hue with silver or rose gold for a gorgeous, romantic setting or set with other colors for something a little quirkier.
Turquoise has become a really trendy stone in recent years with leading alternative jewelry brands like Azlee and Mociun using it across their collections.
Turquoise ranges from 5 to 7 on the Mohs scale and with a composition of copper and aluminum, it can range from a pure bright blue to a pale hue with flecks of metal. Pair with small diamonds in the setting for a luxe finish to a matte stone.
Sapphires are typically a blue precious stone. However, they do also come in other hues like peach, pink, yellow, green and white.
At 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphires are the third hardest mineral. At about a third of the price, they make the perfect diamond substitute. Not only that, they’re considered one of the best stones for engagement rings. While a white sapphire engagement ring won’t capture quite the same sparkle like a diamond, if it’s well-cut, it can look almost as good, giving more bling for your buck if you’re looking for a larger stone.
Emerald, with its distinct rich green tone, is beautiful, luxe, and precious, which makes them a popular stone for engagement rings.
While they have fallen out of style over recent years, added to a modern setting, they can look both chic and timeless, and at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, emeralds can be forever too!
Like emeralds and sapphires, rubies are one of the four precious stones, making them an extremely popular choice for engagement rings with their rich, luxurious blood-red tone.
At 9 on the Mohs scale, rubies will survive on even the busiest hands. Thus, these durable stones are priced accordingly. The finest rubies often fetch more than their diamond counterparts. If you’re shopping for a ruby, look for the same four Cs as diamonds (with a rich color being the most important) but also ask about the origin – Burmese rubies tend to be the most expensive.
Romantic, feminine and oh-so-pretty, morganite is perhaps one of the most popular choices for engagement rings at the moment.
As a beryl stone, morganite is from the same family of stones as emeralds, sitting 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. The price of morganites can vary wildly. So, do your research and talk to your jeweler about the cut and quality of your stone.
Garnets come in all manner of colors but we’re partial to the romance of this deep red hue. Often found in antique settings, these stones also look really pretty paired with pearls or stones of other colors.
At 6.5 to 7.5, they’re not quite as hard as their ruby counterparts. This means a slight reflection in price. A gorgeous choice for a less expensive engagement ring.
Pearls are beautiful and iconic, whether they are in a luxe antique setting or a chic modern ring. The bad news is though, that pearls are made from calcium carbonate, which means at 2.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs scale, they will scratch and tarnish easily.
Select a pearl engagement ring if you plan to wear it only occasionally, or if you choose smaller pearls, set into a surrounding of hardier gemstones.
If you’re looking for the glamour and hardiness of a diamond, without the epic price tag, moissanite might be the stone for you.
When first discovered 120 years ago, these beautiful clear (or sometimes green or yellow) stones were mistaken for diamonds. At 9.5 on the Mohs scale, they are just behind diamonds as the second hardest mineral in the world, making them a more than adequate substitute when well-cut. Pair with a diamond halo for added sparkle.
A perfect choice for the spiritual bride (or groom). Quartz is rising in popularity in the 2020s thanks to the likes of alternative engagement ring designer, Melissa Tyson Designs. Seen above as a yellow rutilated quartz, the mystical gemstone comes in a wide array of beautiful colors like pink and milky white.
Rating 7 on the most hardness scale, we can approve of a giant emerald-cut stone like this stunning piece.
11. Lapis Lazuli
These deep matte blue semi-precious stones are often overlooked for very fine jewelry but with the most captivating colors and beautiful gold flecks, they can add a really opulent touch to a gold setting.
It hasn’t been used in many engagement rings before now, but we reckon it’s following turquoise’s steps and is set to be popular in the coming years.
Relatively inexpensive, lapis can range from $1 to $150 dollars per carat, but the very finest stones are an even, intense blue with a light dusting of gold and no cracks. The lapis pigment is renowned for its lasting quality but at 5 to 5.5 on the Mohs scale, your stone may scratch and perhaps need replacing every few years.
Tourmaline is a mineral that comes often forms as a mix of two or three colors, but for fine jewelry, its green variety has become increasingly popular.
At 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, tourmaline is still quite hardy, and with a cloudier look than an emerald, scratches won’t be quite so obvious. Tourmaline looks beautiful in a bohemian or baroque style setting, especially mixed with different color gemstones.
Topaz Engagement Ring by ARPELC via Etsy
Topaz, with its dazzling array of colors and luxe clarity, is a natural choice for engagement rings. While they can differ in their mineral content, topaz gemstones tend to be an 8 on the Mohs scale.
Pure topaz is actually colorless, and the blue, orange, red, green and pink hues are actually created by imperfections in the stone. We think that beautiful quirk makes them a sweet stone to give your other half on your engagement!
Opals make the most beautifully unique clusters, and while they were seen as old-fashioned, over the last few years, they’ve been making a comeback. Opals come in black, white and crystal and depending on their vibrancy, they reflect the entire rainbow as they move and dazzle – because of this, no two opals are ever the same.
Avoid choosing a dull stone and look for gems with pretty patterns and antique settings. At 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, opals are not as hardy as other gems but do make beautiful engagement ring stones if you don’t mind a little tarnish or if you plan to wear your ring only occasionally.
Onyx is a beautiful mineral that comes in a variety of colors. But, it is most commonly found in its black form for fine jewelry.
A dense, yet silky stone, (at 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale) Onyx would make a unique and utterly stylish addition to your engagement ring. Plus, as a black stone, it will be timeless and chic. Pair with black diamonds, or even clear ones for a really opulent look.
Peridots are one of the few gemstones in the world that only appear in one color, a beautiful, olive-green. While sometimes mistaken for emeralds, peridots tend to be brighter in color, though not as hard at 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale.
Peridots are often considered a token of love. Napoleon famously gifted his first wife Josephine with one with that symbolism of his admiration. Thus, tradition makes them a rather romantic engagement ring gemstone.
Labradorite has become increasingly stylish in fine cocktail rings and earrings over the last few years. So, it was only a matter of time before it made it into engagement rings as well. This mineral can range from black to brown to blue – though its grey-brown hue is most common in luxury jewelry. For durability, labradorite ranges from 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.
The mineral is regarded for its strengthening and shielding properties. Legend has it that Inuits saw labradorite falling from Aurora Borealis in the sky, making this a rather magical and special stone for your engagement ring.
Aquamarine is a beautiful pale blue semi-precious gemstone that’s found its footing as a stylish choice for engagement rings. The beryl stone is quite hardy at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. As a cousin of the emerald, it can appear particularly dazzling when well-cut.
Aquamarines have beautiful clarity, making them look expensive. They are also known as a “lucky stone”, the perfect charm as you enter married life.
Sunstones are under-the-radar gemstones, often overshadowed by the more popular moonstones. Now, stylish designers on Etsy are pairing them with more precious stones to make beautiful cluster combinations.
You’ll most commonly find these peachy (but often red, pink, orange or even green) colored crystals in Norway and the US. (In fact, they’re the official gemstone of Oregon!) Sunstones rate 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale. Closely linked to labradorite, sunstones are an abundant mineral. Many believe the stone brings prosperity, vitality and fearlessness to the wearer.
Tsavorite is a beautiful bright green stone from the garnet family. It makes a striking addition to any piece of jewelry. At 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it’s a hardy stone. The gem really dazzling when well cut, and set among gold and diamonds.
Like its counterpart, Tanzanite (below), this stone was discovered in Tanzania in the sixties and had its profile raised by Tiffany & Co. While not quite as rare or expensive as Tanzanite, if you’re looking for a green stone for your engagement ring, Tsavorite is a beautiful alternative.
Tanzanite is a rare and beautiful gemstone discovered recently in the nineteen-sixties. It ranges from 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. Tanzanite’s name was actually given to it by Tiffany & Co (who are big fans of this blueish purplish stone) after its place of origin, in Northern Tanzania.
One thousand times rarer than diamonds, Tanzanite is a fitting stone to give your one in a million. With only an estimated 30-year supply left in the world, this is a particularly precious choice for an engagement ring.
Giving off the more glorious yellow glove, Citrine matches a happy disposition. The gem was first found in Ancient Greece and was used as jewelry at the outset. Throughout history, the yellow gem has invoked beliefs of protection and prosperity. Citrine lands at a solid 7 on the mohs hardness scale.
Now, in modern times, Citrine serves as the November birthstone. Making the alternative gem perfect for a bride or groom born in November.
So, there you have it, our favorite alternative gemstones for your all-important engagement ring!
Did you opt for a non-traditional wedding ring? We’d love to hear about your unique engagement rings in the comments below.