Is engagement right around the corner and you’re wondering what kind of ring you can propose with ? Have you been proposed to and are looking for ideas for the engagement ring ? In either case, you may be looking at diamonds and wondering if they’re really the only option you have. After all, engagement rings have been around for forever and they haven’t always featured a diamond solitaire.
So what other options do you have for an engagement ring, if not diamonds ? Today we’re exploring all the diamond engagement ring alternatives out there, both colorful gems and diamond dupes. Let’s take a look at the many (many !) options you can choose from.
Diamond engagement ring alternatives
Diamonds are the traditional center stone in an engagement ring, but you can always opt for colored gemstones like sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tourmalines, morganite, aquamarine, topaz, garnet, and even black onyx. You can get a mix of diamonds and colored gems for your engagement ring if you like, depending on the overall effect you want the ring to have.
There is no real reason for buying a diamond instead of any other colored gem, as far as beauty and wow factors go. For the longest time engagement rings actually featured colored gems, especially sapphires, amethysts, rubies, and emeralds. These were well known and heavily used gems up until the early 1900s.
Consider included diamonds for an engagement ring
If you’d like to know you own a diamond, but want it to be a little different form all the others, or would like to not take out a loan for the engagement ring, you may want to consider opting for an included diamond. A heavily included one, to the point where its appearance is all about how those inclusions change the overall effect of the gem. Salt and pepper diamonds, and milky white diamonds are two very good choices that challenge the status quo and offer a fresh twist on the classic diamond look.
Salt and pepper diamonds
Salt and pepper diamonds have a cute name that alludes to the tiny grey, black, and white inclusions within them, as if someone spilled salt and ground pepper onto the diamond. These are pretty incredible to look at, since they still have a bit of brilliance to them but their overall grey cast makes you look twice.
You can find these diamonds from very lightly included to heavily included, and at that point they may be called grey diamonds. Salt and pepper diamonds run for $1200-4500 per carat, depending on the inclusion pattern and the cut you want. These diamonds have become more and more popular, so their price is constantly rising.
Fancy white diamonds (milky)
Fancy white diamonds are a bit tricky, in that they are actually white and not clear ! Perhaps the best way to imagine true white diamonds is to get a glass of water, and add a few drops of milk. See how it turns bluish-yellow ? That’s basically what a fancy white diamond can look like, ranging from semi-transparent to almost opaque or smoky white.
These are called fancy white diamonds because any other color than clear is classified as fancy, to make a jeweler’s life easier when looking for a specific diamond type. So if a fancy white sounds good, remember to ask for a fancy white diamond, otherwise you might get a clear one.
You can find fancy white diamonds for sale ranging from $2800 all the way to $5000, depending on the exact color, and the cut style. So far these diamonds haven’t seen the same surge in popularity as salt and pepper diamonds, so they may keep an even price.
Read also: Fancy Cut Diamonds Explained
Diamond simulant engagement rings are an affordable choice
Would you like to appear to own a diamond but don’t want to pay that much ? Or perhaps you’re imagining a big, flashy ring with quite a few stones in it, but getting one with actual diamonds would be simply too much ? We hear you, we like the bling without paying extra too ! SO there is no harm in looking at your other diamond-like options.
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Moissanite is perhaps the best diamond simulant you can get your hands on, as it has some really amazing properties. It has a higher refractive index than diamonds (2.65 compared to diamond’s 2.42), and it’s also a very tough stone. It scores a 9.25-9.5 on the Mohs scale, while diamonds scored a 10.
You can get moissanites in white (clear) or you can find it in fancy colors, ranging from pale yellow to brown to light green, to greenish blue (teal). Just like colored diamonds, colored moissanite will have some fire and brilliance to it and will definitely look amazing. You can get moissanite stones for about $1300-1500 per carat, though you may be lucky and get them for less.
Here’s an example of a fine moissanite engagement ring off Amazon.
It’s an oval cut stone, and it’s fairly large (1.5 carats) but very adequate for a solitaire ring. The metal is solid 14k rose gold. Due to its simple yet elegant design it can go with any wedding band, as long as it will accommodate the size of the stone. We think this would pair beautifully with a pave or eternity ring-style band.
Cubic zirconia is very, very well known for being affordable so its price point won’t come into question. The upside is that you can get a very large stone, or get a ring that features quite a lot of stones and still keep the whole ting under $500. Like moissanite, cubic zirconia can be clear or colored, and it has a decent amount of fire and brilliance.
You can get cubic zirconia for the center stone, or you can use smaller ones for a halo around a different center stone, perhaps a colored gem ? Regardless of the color choice, CZ is bound to offer plenty of options and all of the affordable.
Colored gemstones are always beautiful in engagement rings
So we’ve established that clear white diamonds are not the only stones you can use for an engagement ring. But what about colorful gems ? These have been around for thousands of years, and each color evokes a different meaning. You can always pair a colored gem with another, such as pairing birthstones, or pair a colored gem with a faux diamond for extra sparkle. Take a look at these pretty gems !
Pink gems inspire romance within the couple
Pink gemstones have been regarded as very romantic stones, and especially powerful if set as an engagement ring center stone. As of the last 2010s, morganite is the leading pink gem for engagement rings, and for good reasons.
That being said, you can find other gems that are also pink, but come with a higher Mohs rating or a higher price tag.
Morganite ranges from a pale pink to coral pink to nearly lavender. You can also find tourmaline in some deep shades of pink (almost fuchsia) or some very pale shades, more delicate.
Rubies are typically red but you can find very pale rubies that haven’t developed their full color, and remind you of a cherry blossom pink. Or, you can find sapphires that have developed a striking pink color.
Padparadscha sapphires are a very specific pink sort of sapphire, and possibly the most expensive sapphire ever. These gems have a pink-to gold sort of color to them, and they can be paler or more vibrant, and sometimes cross over into salmon pink.
Here’s an example of a pink stone engagement ring off Amazon.
This impressive ring sports a cushion-cut pink morganite, prong set in 14k rose gold. Both sides of the morganite are flanked by champagne-color small diamonds, forming two arrows or chevrons, which lead beautifully into the ring shank. The sides of the ring are of course studded with another set of champagne diamonds, but the don’t go low enough to cause discomfort. All in all a very impressive morganite engagement ring.
Or, if you’d rather go for a bright, in-your-face kind of pink take a look at this one from Amazon.
It’s a pink sapphire ring, with a pear-cut pink sapphire that features a white moissanite halo. The tiny moissanites also go halfway down the sides of the ring, which offers maximum sparkle without creating too much discomfort. The rig metal can be white, rose, or yellow gold in 14k.
Read also: Bow Tie Effect In Diamonds
Blue gemstones are calm and inspire loyalty
Blue in an engagement ring has been a fan-favorite ever since the late Princess Diana chose that superb sapphire and diamond ring as her engagement ring. Blue, especially deep blue has been associated with loyalty, faith in God, and keeping your wits about you.
Sapphires are best known for their indigo or cornflower shade of blue, and these are always going to come at a higher price than topaz or aquamarine. But also in a deeper color, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Here’s an example of a beautiful sapphire ring off Amazon.
It’s a very intricate looking ring, with plenty of filigree and flowery patterns worked into the metal itself. Despite the very detailed look, this is a solitaire ring, with a 7 mm (0.34 ct) blue sapphire featuring a princess cut. The entire ring is made in solid 14k white gold, and if you like the center stone can be a sky blue topaz instead.
Red gemstones inspire passion and vitality
A red gemstone in your engagement ring can bring on some very passionate feelings, reminding you of the love you share and the two hearts that beat together as one.
Perhaps the most famous red gemstone of all, a ruby is always a great choice for an engagement ring. It’s double the price of a sapphire, but the deep red color is well worth it.
If you’d rather have a more affordable red gem that is also an impressive shade of crimson, you can opt for garnets. For the price of a single ruby carat you can get several garnets and compose an impressive engagement ring.
Here’s an impressive ruby engagement ring off Amazon.
It has a large lab-grown ruby featuring an oval cut and a deep red color, and it weighs in at an impressive 6.47 carats ! The center stone is then surrounded by a floating halo of 42 natural diamonds, creating a look similar to a star or flower burst. The entire ring is set in 18k white gold and is going to floor your fiancee to be !
Green gems remind us of royalty and nature
Engagement rings can be colorful indeed, and there’s something about a green-toned one that simply screams royalty, velvet, yet also nature and fairy queens. Depending on the shade of green, your engagement ring can be refreshing or impressive, reminding people of deep moss green, or the hopeful first sign of spring.
Emeralds are the go-to green gemstone, and we all know why. Aside from the amazing color, they also come with some prestige and always manages to look impressive.
Peridots offer a very different shade of green, in a much lighter tone and with a golden hue within it. Peridots are more affordable than emeralds but don’t really hold up as well.
Tourmalines are also a great option if you’re looking for a more affordable option than emerald, but without sacrificing the color.
Here’s an example of an emerald ring off Amazon.
This ring puts a twist on the traditional engagement ring, in a fun way. It features both emeralds and diamonds, in a an open cuff fashion. One end features a round brilliant diamond, while the other end features a beautiful pear cut emerald. There are prong set tiny diamonds going down both ends of the cuff, but not all around the ring. Because of this, it can easily be adjusted for half a size or even a full size, if need be. The actual metal of the ring can be either white, rose, or yellow gold in 14k.
Yellow gems bring positivity, vitality, and prosperity
Whenever we see a yellow, sunny gem in an engagement ring it always puts a smile on our faces. There’s something about those golden hues that bring forth positivity, vitality, and even abundance. Gold and yellow have always been associated with the sun, so wearing such an engagement ring would definitely help elevate everyone’s mood.
Citrine is perhaps the first gem you’re thinking of, as it’s very well known for being, well, yellow with a bit of an amber feel to it. Heliodor is also a great choice and it has a very similar color palette as citrine, but it’s a bit sturdier and does not scratch as easily.
You may also find tourmaline in various yellow hues, and this, too, is an affordable gem that can actually help you make a ring with different colors. Imagine a tourmaline ring with shades of yellow, pale yellow, golden yellow, and amber throughout it ! Sunburst we’d call it.
Sapphires are another story, in that they are impressively yellow, like canary yellow. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, we don’t know what will. Be warned though, yellow sapphires are still sapphires and they come at a much higher price than citrine, heliodor, or tourmaline, but they hold up better to wear and tear.
Here’s an example of a bright yellow sapphire ring off Amazon.
This particular ring features a cushion cut yellow sapphire as its center stone, with a cushion cut diamond flanking the sapphire on either side. The ring is studded with diamonds, both on the sides and as halos for the bigger diamonds and the sapphire. This has got to be one of the sparkliest, most bright, sunny rings possible. The entire ring is set in 14k white gold.
Orange gems tend to be fun and exotic
A deep, warm orange gemstone as a center stone will always draw the eye, and it may make many people wonder about exotic places with delicious fruit and hot summers. Luckily these gems are fairly easy to find, even if they are a bit expensive.
The first option is an imperial topaz, and this is possibly the most expensive and impressive type of topaz you can find. This topaz ranges from a deep amber with orange flashes, to peachy with reddish flashes.
Another option is fire opal, which refers to the opal’s amazing orange hues, but it lacks in the clarity department. And despite being an opal, it does not have as much color play as other types.
You could also look at orange sapphires, as these have an amazing shade of deep, dark honey with golden flashes and are sure to impress. Or, you may look at garnet, and be sure to ask for orange spessartite (the type of garnet), or Mandarin garnet.
Here’s an example of a beautiful orange sapphire ring off Amazon.
This is a cluster ring, with an orange sapphire as the center stone. It’s cut in a round brilliant shape, with a cluster of smaller diamonds around it, making a very pretty floral motif. The entire ring is set in 14k white gold.
Or, if you’d rather get something with a darker, deeper orange why not try fire opal ? For example this one off Amazon.
This is an oval-cut fire opal, with a halo of tiny white moissanites, and a row of white moissanites going down the side of the ring. There is a lot of filigree and beading on this ring, making it very intricate and detailed. YOu can get this ring in 14k rose gold, white gold, or yellow gold.
Read also: Bezel VS Prong Setting
Purple gemstones are always mysterious and calming
A purple gemstone is a great option as well, since it can be mysterious, magical, and even calming, depending on the shade. For example you can find amethyst that ranges from vivid bright violet to light, delicate lavender.
Sapphires may also be purple, but they are not exactly common. They stand up to wear and tear much better than other purple gemstones though, so that’s always a bonus for an engagement ring.
Tourmaline also comes in purple – it comes in every color ! And you can also check out purple garnet, which is an extreme type of almandine garnet (red garnet with blue tint).
Here’s an elegant amethyst ring off Amazon.
The center stone is a purple amethyst with an oval cut, and it features a trio of white marquise diamonds on either side. AN overall pretty ring, with a bit of a floral motif but not something that would get in the way of daily life. You can get this ring in 14k gold, in white, rose, or yellow gold.
Black gems are dramatic and imposing
If a black engagement ring suits your fancy then you have a whole lot of options, because you can go for opaque to semi-transparent and still have a few to look at.
We’ll start with black sapphires, which are not totally black but instead only appear black. When you turn the gem or shift the light, you will see flashes of midnight blue.
Or, you can try black diamonds, which are simply diamonds that are so heavily included they’ve turned opaque and appear completely black. A similar option of all-black is black onyx, and this is perhaps the inkiest black to ever black among the gems.
If you’re looking for something a bit more ethereal, why not check out rutilated quartz ? This is clear quartz that has hundreds of tiny threads of titanium dioxide (rutile) intersecting it, and it can be almost completely black.
Smoky quartz is also a type of clear quartz that looks like someone captured the darkest smoke within the crystal. It can sometimes appear dark brown instead of black.
Here’s an example of a non-traditional ring off Amazon.
This is a solitaire ring, featuring a pear-cut black diamond with a very high cathedral setting. The best part about this ring, aside from the black diamond ? The option to get it in two-tone gold, such as white-rose or white-yellow gold, for the bride that really doesn’t care for tradition. The metal is good quality, 14k solid gold, and the overall feeling of the ring is sleek, elegant, and even a little intimidating in its smooth lines.
Colorful gems show a creative or artistic streak
Would you like the engagement ring to be everything all at once ? Do you or your loved one have an artistic or dramatic flair ? Then perhaps a color-flashing gem would be a great option.
Opal is the first choice for this, since it reflects the rainbow back at you. Finding one that has consistent fire and brightness is a bit challenging though, and you may want to look for black opal for a good contrast so the colors show up nicely.
Labradorite offers a more limited palette but a definite guarantee in color brightness. Labradorite shines mostly blue on a black background, but it does shift to gold, pink, and green in the right angle.
Alexandrite is a very different gem, and instead changes color depending on the light you view it in, such as outdoor light or indoor light. A good quality alexandrite will shift from teal to raspberry, but will have green flashes. Lab-grown alexandrite does not have a green flash, and that is most of what you will find on the market.
Here’s a very beautiful Ethiopian opal ring off Amazon.
This engagement ring features an Ethiopian opal as its center stone, and it has a round brilliant cut. The ring shank goes from wide top this, with a row of tiny moissanite gems bordering the shank on either side. The middle of the shank has a cut-out swirly pattern that simply brings the ring close to fantasy territory. The ring is made in 14k solid gold, in rose, white, or yellow gold.
Do engagement rings have to have a diamond ?
No, engagement rings do not have to feature a diamond. An engagement ring is simply a ring to propose marriage to your partner with. A diamond or gemstone is welcome, but not necessary. The intent behind the ring matters much more than them gem on the ring.
You can propose with a simple ring and upgrade later, or propose with any ring you like and keep that as the engagement ring forever. Really, it’s up to you and your partner whether you want to get a diamond engagement ring or not. Do not do this because you feel pressured to get a diamond, because that pressure is not real.
Why do engagement rings have a diamond ?
Engagement rings have had diamonds as their center stone for a long time, but it was never traditional or the only gem to propose with. It has become tradition only due to a diamond company’s interest in selling their diamonds, with the help of a very clever ad back in the early 1900s.
Diamonds are neither rare nor truly expensive by themselves, however due to high demand and intentional low supply, diamond prices have become very high. And it is this high demand, low supply, high price that has shot diamonds into the must-have collection.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.