Alternative Gemstone Engagement Rings
This article collates some of our favourite gemstone rings, from quintessential stones like sapphire and pearl to some lesser-known jewels such as lapis lazuli and tsavorite, providing food for thought for the discerning groom.
As the third hardest mineral on earth, sapphires epitomise strength and beauty, making them an ideal alternative to the traditional diamond engagement ring.
Typically a precious blue stone, sapphires come in a range of resplendent hues including peach, pink, yellow, and green, so you’re sure to find the perfect colour and shade for your beau. And while a sapphire engagement ring may not capture the same sparkle like a diamond, the lower price bracket opens up more possibilities – and larger stones.
A timeless jewellery icon, the pearl’s beauty and versatility make it the ideal diamond alternative, whether it’s held by a refined antique setting or a chic modern ring. Their delicate composition is reflected by their Mohs scale rating – at 2.5 to 4.5, it’s a gemstone best saved for special occasions. However, if you’re seeking a pearl that your partner can wear every day, select a smaller stone set into a surrounding comprised of hardier gemstones.
Lapis Lazuli is a uniquely mysterious gemstone and tipped by jewellery experts to become the next diamond ring alternative, following the glittering trail forged by turquoise and morganite. These captivating, deep blue stones are often overlooked for finer crystals but can add a breath-taking highlight to a gold setting, as exemplified by these mid-century cufflinks.
With its dazzling array of colours and luxurious clarity, topaz is a natural, yet unique engagement ring option. Its vibrant, eye-catching hues (red, green, and pink) result from imperfections in the stone, lending it metaphorical merit for those embracing their partner’s flaws.
Whether black, white, or crystal, opals make stunning clusters and are currently enjoying a resurgence among brides-to-be. When shopping for the perfect opal, look for vibrant gems with intricate patterns and antique settings as they’ll reflect the entire colour spectrum as they move. While they’re not as durable as other gems (5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale), they make truly unique and often unusual engagement rings if you don’t mind a little tarnish.
Derived from the Greek for nail or claw, onyx is a dense yet silky stone that sits between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale. This unique mineral comes in various hues but tends to be jet black when used in fine jewellery.
According to Greek legend, Eros cut, then scattered her fingernails on the ground, but deeming that no heavenly body should perish, the gods swiftly turned the clippings into onyx. While it’s resplendent in its own right, onyx is beautifully complemented by black or clear diamond clusters.
Formed in the Earth’s mantle like diamonds, peridot is one of the few gemstones in the world to appear in a solitary colour – a mesmerising olive-green.
Often mistaken for emeralds, peridot was regarded by the Romans as the ‘evening emerald’ as its colour doesn’t alter under artificial light. Moreover, during the French Revolution, Napoleon gifted his wife Josephine a peridot to symbolise his admiration, crystalising the gemstone’s status as a prime diamond alternative.
A cousin of the emerald, aquamarine is a mesmerising pale blue beryl stone that is relatively robust at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. Named after its oceanic hue, it’s said to embody all things connected to the sea; a purity extending to its straightforward cleaning process mirroring that of the diamond. Aquamarine is considered a lucky stone, too, making it the perfect charm for those embarking on married life.
Unearthed in Northern Tanzania circa 1960, tanzanite is an exceptionally rare gemstone that is 1000 times rarer than the diamond. Bestowed its moniker by Tiffany & Co, the world’s remaining supply is said to be limited to just 25 years, making this recherché gemstone the crowning centrepiece for your one in a million.
One of the youngest gemstones in modern jewellery, labradorite’s transfixing colour spectrum has seen it become coveted in cocktails rings and earrings in recent times. And its history is every bit as mesmerising as the stone itself. Heralded for its strengthening and shielding properties, legend has it the Inuits saw the magical gemstones falling from Aurora Borealis in the sky, ascribing the stone with a transcendent quality befitting your love.
Featuring a dazzling range of hues from pure bright blue to pale blue with metal flecks, turquoise’s popularity has surged in recent years, led by alternative jewellery houses including Mociun and Azlee. For an exquisite twist on a classic, pair your turquoise stone with a diamond-encrusted setting, but keep in mind its modest 5 to 7 Mohs rating may curtail frequent use.
Tourmaline’s striking green hue is attracting many new admirers at present, its radiance exemplified best when enclosed in a baroque or bohemian setting. At 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it’s a relatively robust gemstone with a distinctive cloudy green hue that obscures light scratches, making it an ideal alternative gemstone for the free-spirited, modern woman.
Moissanite fuses the glamour and durability of a diamond, without the premium price tag. Discovered 120 years ago, these beautifully clear stones were initially mistaken for diamonds – and it’s little wonder, given their clear radiance and 9.5 Mohs scale rating, making them the second hardest mineral on earth. Pair moissanite with a diamond halo for a unique engagement ring with a radiant, diamond-like sparkle.
Romantic, delicate, and feminine, morganite is perhaps the most sought-after alternative gemstone ring at present. The soft rose-gold hue juxtaposes its emerald cousin’s distinctive green, but hardiness is part of its lineage. Sitting at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, it’s durable enough for daily wear, making it a standout choice for an alternative engagement ring.
One of the four precious stones alongside diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires, the blood-red ruby is in vogue, making it an excellent diamond alternative for engagement rings.
Like this beautiful example, Burmese rubies are usually the finest, and at 9 on the Mohs scale, they’ll survive on the busiest of hands. When shopping for the perfect ruby, look for the same four Cs as diamonds.
Like its counterpart tanzanite, tsavorite was discovered in Tanzania (circa 1960), and swiftly became a glittering focal point of several Tiffany & Co collections.
At 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it’s a durable stone that dazzles when well-cut. And while it’s not quite as rare or coveted as tanzanite, it is, in fact, the world’s rarest garnet, and the ‘Rolls Royce of the Green’, according to Tiffany’s Harry Platt. Therefore, if you’re seeking an alternative engagement ring with a striking green hue, tsavorite may be the gemstone for you.
Amethyst’s vibrant lavender hue makes a bold statement as an alternative engagement ring, while its 7 Mohs scale rating enables liberal wearability. These precious stones pair perfectly with silver or rose gold settings, but for something a little quirkier, choose different coloured gemstones to complete a romantic cluster.
Rounding off our list is another classic choice engagement ring choice – the emerald. The timeless stone’s distinct, vivid green hue will accentuate a romantic ring, be it a refined antique or a modern, chic variety. What’s more, they’re rugged and durable with a 7.5 to 8 Mohs rating, while their namesake emerald cut and the brilliant-cut dazzle in equal measure.