What to Know About Choosing an Alternative Engagement Ring Stone

A woman wearing an engagement ring that's a blue gemstone.

Sometimes, diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend. In fact, many brides are choosing to forgo the traditional diamond engagement ring for alternative stones, including everything from sapphires to rubies to emeralds. Alternative stones tend to be less pricey than diamonds, which might be a reason behind the trend. But also, some brides-to-be just might not be fans of diamonds and would rather wear a stone that’s more reflective of their own tastes—and that’s totally OK! If you’re considering an alternative engagement ring stone, here are some important tips to know before you buy–and get down on one knee.

Make Sure You Love the Stone’s Color

A close-up image of a vintage engagement ring with an orange gemstone surrounded by a circle of diamonds.

While you might love the color red, that might not be the best reason for selecting a sapphire or ruby ring. You may love the color black right now and think that will look “cooler” than a traditional diamond, however, it’s important to remember that this is a ring you’re going to be wearing forever. Think carefully before selecting the stone and color of your choice. You don’t want to be “over it” in a decade.

Consider the Stone’s Hardness

When selecting any stone, it’s crucial to consider its hardness because the harder the mineral, the least likely it will scratch and show any wear and tear. You can do this by consulting the Mohs scale. Devised by the German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812, it measures the scratch resistance of various minerals by observing whether a harder material can scratch a softer material. The higher the number on the scale, the harder the stone. Diamond ranks highest at 10, and talc is the lowest at 1. Gemstones that rank less than 4 will scratch easily. Fortunately, popular alternative stones like sapphire, emerald, and ruby rank pretty high at 9, 8, and 9, respectively. Other trendy stones, like pearl and amethyst, rank at 5 and 6.

Consider a Lab-Generated Alternative Stone

A lab-created diamond ring against a granite background.

Some alternative gemstones, like sapphires and opals, are rare and quite expensive, which is why lab-created gemstones are available as alternatives. Lab-created gemstones are not imitations of the real thing. In fact, not only are they chemically identical to natural gems, but they also look and feel the same. The only difference? They’re grown in a lab for a fraction of the time and cost. They’re environmentally friendly, ethical, and budget-friendly. But before you decide to go this route, it’s wise to consider lab-created stone jewelry from a trusted jeweler. This way, they’ll be able to explain to you everything you need to know about the stone, including how to care for it.

Not all Sapphires Are Blue

Not all sapphires are blue, and not all rubies are red. When considering an alternative gemstone, you might want to also consider an alternative color for the stone, too. For example, there are yellow and pink sapphires that might appeal to you more than the traditional blue sapphire. Rubies can also be more pinkish in color, while emeralds can also have yellow and blue hues. Explore your options!

You Don’t Need to Buy New

An open jewelry box with vintage engagement rings.

While this can be true as well for diamond rings, it’s important to consider that many alternative engagement ring stones can be found in vintage and antique stores, as well as online retailers like Etsy. So if you’re on a budget, finding a previously loved vintage ring can be just as romantic as a new piece of jewelry—for a great value, too.

With more brides realizing there are a whole range of choices other than the traditional clear diamond, choosing an alternative engagement ring stone has never been easier or more accessible. Keeping our helpful tips above in mind, you’ll be able to buy the ring of your dreams in the perfect shade and price.

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