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How to Choose a Non-Diamond Engagement Ring

non-diamond engagement ring guide

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The world of weddings is becoming increasingly less traditional with more brides and designers willing to step outside the norm for style.

Engagement rings are no exception.

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While diamonds have been the gemstone of choice for engagement rings for well over half a century, today the trend towards colored gemstones and unique designs is growing.

One of the best ways to show off your top taste is by choosing a non-diamond engagement ring.

Find out how below.

Is a Non-Diamond Engagement Ring for Me?

Pearl engagement ring

The term “non-diamond” can literally mean ‘any stone that isn’t a diamond’, but also any non-traditional diamond. It can also refer to an engagement ring that doesn’t contain a stone at all.

For many brides, choosing a non-diamond ring can mean opening up a whole other layer of complexity when choosing an engagement ring. But in reality, it can make things simpler because you’re starting your search based on aesthetics as opposed to technical jewelry characteristics that are difficult to understand.

If you’re unsure about whether you even want a non-diamond ring, consider the two most compelling benefits to something non-traditional.

  • Firstly, you have greater scope to showcase your individuality and will most likely end up with a ring that is truly unique.
  • Secondly, a non-diamond ring usually comes with a lower price tag (some colored precious stones can be as expensive as diamonds).

However, if you’re someone who cares a lot about societal norms, have always wanted a diamond or wants to impress everyone with a large, fine diamond, a non-diamond ring might not cut it for you. Consider your priorities and values before you purchase your engagement ring, as it’ll often be a decision you have to live with for a long time.

What to Look for in a Non-Diamond Engagement Ring

How to choose non diamond engagement rings

The most important thing to know and consider is the durability of your chosen ring. Engagement rings aren’t like other pieces in your jewelry box. They should be built to last forever. When considering durability, here are the most important factors:

  • Metal

Good quality metal such as platinum, titanium or 18K/14k gold will help the band and setting stay strong, but your stone should also be able to withstand wear and tear too – especially if you plan on choosing a large, exposed stone that you want to shine!

  • Stone Hardness

Love them or hate them, the main draw of diamonds (apart from their inimitable sparkle) is their supreme durability. Diamonds are in a league of their own when it comes to durability.

The hardness of stones in jewelry is measured on the Mohs scale. A stone with a Mohs hardness of 1 can be scratched with your fingernail; a stone at 8.5 can only be marked with a masonry drill, and a diamond at 10 (the top-end of the scale) can only be marked by another diamond.

If you choose a softer stone such as a pearl or opal (2-6 on the Mohs scale) look for protected bezel settings and make sure you remove your ring when you do the dishes or any other activities that will put your ring at risk of getting tarnished. But remember that all stones are susceptible to wear. Even diamonds can still chip. It’s unlikely, but still possible. This is why all stones should be treated with care.

  • Quality of Craftsmanship

All the best materials in the world are of no use if the designer stuffs it up. A quality ring should flaunt the beauty of the materials while still offering durability to the wearer. For example, a sloppily made ring setting will not be able to hold a gemstone securely. This is why it’s important to purchase from a reputable store.

Best Non-Diamond Stone Options for Engagement Rings

Best non-diamond engagement rings collection

Precious stones such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds are all good options for non-diamond alternatives. They are all considered just as valuable and are as equally revered as diamonds, which means that a good quality precious stone can sometimes be just as, or more expensive than diamonds.

The ‘big four’ precious stones are generally more expensive than other semi-precious stones because they have desirable qualities of being durable (they fall into the Mohs scale at between 7-9) and can possess high clarity, brilliance and rich colors.

But if you look beyond this prestigious category of gemstones, you’ll come across stunning options like moonstone, topaz or pearls. These aren’t typical choices for an engagement ring, but that’s exactly what makes them so unique. Take a look at this moonstone engagement ring. Have you ever seen anything quite like it as an engagement ring? 

Some other options include lab-created stones. Mossanite is a lab-grown stone that is most commonly used as a diamond substitute as they are available in colorless and near-colorless options which means that they can look and sparkle like a diamond.

How to Choose a Non-Diamond Engagement Ring

Once you’ve considered the practical factors above, you can then think about what you want the ring to look like.

  • Start with the ring style. It’s also good to know what style of ring you are looking for (vintage, modern, bohemian and so on) to help narrow the search down. But generally, most stones will suit any style. It’s generally the setting that changes the style of the ring.
  • The easiest way to narrow down your options from the start is to think about what color you want your stone to be.
  • Once you have that figured out, you can then consider the different stones available in those colors, their properties and cost.
  • For each stone option, do some research into the characteristics that differentiate good-quality and low-quality versions of each stone so that you know what to look for when you shop. For example, it is more important to find vibrant colored stones than it is one that shines bright, but for a clear stone you’ll want to look out for fewer inclusions and brilliance.

Engagement Rings with No Stones

Love knot ring

Check Price Here

If you decide to go for an engagement ring with no stones, there aren’t as many options available. However, this would be your chance of getting something truly unique.

Some alternative engagement rings include the following:

  • Claddagh ring design – symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship
  • Puzzle ring – which adds a little bit of fun and playfulness to your ring
  • Wooden engagement rings – which bring a unique material into your jewelry design
  • Symbols – an engagement ring with a symbol that holds meaning to you, including compass, anchor, arrow, infinity symbol, heart, religious symbols and so on.
  • Love Knot – a ring featuring metal twisted into a love knot is a nice way to keep it simple yet meaningful  

Non-Diamond Engagement Rings with Gemstones

If you decide to go with a gemstone engagement ring, here are some excellent options to consider based on color categories.

  • Colorless
Girl wearing white sapphire ring

White Sapphire Ring by Ardonn. Check Price Here.

Colorless diamonds are good options for people that want the look of a diamond, at a more affordable price-point.

Mossanites are probably the best option with a Mohs rating of 9.5 and eye-clean quality. Keep in mind that it becomes easier it is to notice colored tints (greens, greys and yellows) at larger sizes, so you may want to keep the stone small.

White sapphire (Mohs rating of 9), cubic zirconia (8-8.5) and white topaz (8) are also good options but have lower Mohs ratings, so great care should be taken to ensure that the ring won’t show signs of wear quickly.

  • Milky White
Pearl engagement ring

Pearl and Diamond Ring by James Allen. Check Price Here.

Milky white stones are perfect for brides that are looking for a colorless but not completely clear stone.

Pearl engagement rings are classic and beautiful, but they are made from soft calcium carbonate and have a Mohs rating of just 2.5 to 4.5. Emma Stone made pearl engagement rings the next in-thing when she got engaged with just such a ring.

Moonstones are more gem-like and can be shaped as such, but still have a pearly white color and a higher Mohs rating of 6.

Opals are a great option for those that want a stone that is mostly white but with a hint of color. No two opals are alike and with milky to icy-clear hues and a kaleidoscope of color specks within the stone opals are a beautifully unique option. Opals’ Mohs ratings are still quite low at 5.5 to 6.5, so like other milky white stone options, extra special care should be taken with these rings.

  • Grey
Labradorite grey ring

Labradorite Engagement Ring by NOOI Jewelry. Check Price Here.

Darker grey stones are the perfect way to give a classic engagement ring some edge. Labradorite (6-6.5 Mohs rating) can be black, brown or blue but is most-commonly seen in its grey-brown hue for engagement rings.

Though still technically diamonds, grey diamonds, a.k.a salt and pepper diamonds are the highest quality option for a smokey stone look. Though rare, grey diamonds are much more affordable than traditional diamonds as they are not as in demand or well-known.

  • Yellow
Citrine engagement ring

Citrine Engagement Ring by Blue Nile. Check Price Here.

Sunny brides should look for yellow stones such as citrine which can be found in fiery orange to bright yellow hues. Citrine is a type of quartz which varies in hardness, so it is best to ask your jeweler about the purity and hardness of the stone.

Yellow diamonds are the most sought-after yellow stone and can sometimes cost less than a colorless diamond of the same quality. However, intense yellow diamonds or canary yellow diamonds can get quite pricey.

  • Beige and Peach
Morganite engagement ring

Morganite Engagement Ring by Blue Nile. Check Price Here.

Beige, peach or champagne colored stones are romantic, feminine and a touch earthy. Morganite (Mohs rating 7.5-8) is found in pink to orange-pink tones that come from a similar stone family as emeralds. Champagne diamonds, though more expensive, have the potential for the most sparkle and durability. They are also less rare than colorless and other fancy colored diamonds so can still be relatively cheap.

  • Pink and Orange
Rose quartz ring

Rose Quartz Ring by Brilliant Rings. Check Price Here.

Soft pink and orange hues are perfect for brides that want to flaunt their femininity through a colored stone. Rose quartz is one of the most popular options for contemporary brides that don’t mind a cloudy rock. Quartz can vary in hardness, but can get up to 7 on the Mohs scale so just be sure to ask your jeweler about how durable the stone is.

Fire opals are bright orange transparent opals that are available in subtle to very saturated hues. Like white opals, fire opals have a low Mohs rating of 5.5-6.5 which should be taken under consideration.

  • Red
Ruby ring

Ruby Engagement Ring by AH Bogem Studio. Check Price Here.

A deep red stone exudes old-world glamor and evokes passion and love. Rubies are the best option with a rating of 9 on the Mohs scale. But they come at a price, sometimes costing more than diamonds.

Garnets (6.5-7.5 Mohs rating) are a more affordable option. Garnets come in various shades, but the deep red variety is quite common, particularly in antique rings.

  • Purple
Amethyst ring

Amethyst Ring by Scott Bonomo Diamonds. Check Price Here.

Purple is a striking color that is usually overlooked in engagement rings. But rings in purple hues can be found in pretty soft lilacs to striking vibrant hues that can be likened to rubies or blue sapphires.

Amethyst is the most popular purple stone (7 Mohs rating) but another less-known option is Tanzanite. Tanzanite (6.5-7 Mohs rating) is a relatively new stone that was only discovered in the 60s. It gets its name from its place of origin (Northern Tanzania) and is actually 1000 times rarer than diamonds. It’s one of the best options for purple to blue gemstones.

  • Deep Blue
Blue sapphire ring

Blue Sapphire Ring in Vintage Setting by James Allen. Check Price Here.

Engagement rings with deep blue stones are reminiscent of majestic royal stones thanks to Kate Middleton’s brilliant sapphire ring. Sapphire is the ideal option with a Mohs rating of 9, but it comes with a high price-tag.

Alexandrite is another beautiful option that often comes at a lower price point and relatively fine 8.5 Mohs rating, but high quality specimens can be eye-wateringly expensive.

Tanzanite also comes in blue hues as beautiful as sapphire, but much rarer and much less expensive. However, tanzanite’s hardness is less than sapphire.

  • Pale Blue
Aquamarine engagement ring

Aquamarine Ring by James Allen. Check Price Here.

For a softer baby blue, Aquamarine is a good choice. It is quite hardy with a 7.5-8 Mohs rating, and as a cousin to the emerald, can shine quite brightly if cut correctly. Another option is Tourmaline, which has a lower Mohs rating at 7-7.5 and also commonly comes with a tinge of green. And of course, Blue Topaz which is one of the most popular blue gemstones.

  • Turquoise
Blue turquoise engagement ring

Turquoise Ring in Rose Gold by Chic Crafts Co. Check Price Here.

Turquoise is a popular stone choice for brides that want a blue toned stone with an earthy, bohemian look. Hardness varies greatly because its composition can include varying levels of copper and aluminium, but turquoise generally falls between 5 and 7 on the Mohs scale. To add sparkle and luxury, consider pairing with smaller diamonds as Turquoise is more of a matte stone.

  • Green
Green emerald engagement ring

Emerald Ring by RST Studio. Check Price Here.

A glowing green Emerald is the top choice for brides looking for a green stone. Their hardness ranges from 7.5-8, but their rarity and precious standing can make them pricey. For something softer in color and truly unique, consider a Peridot (6.5-7 Mohs rating). They are one of the few gemstones that can only be found in one color – a gorgeous olive-green.

  • Black
Black engagement ring

Black Diamond Engagement Ring by Master Jewelry Shop. Check Price Here.

Ultra-chic brides can go in the complete opposite direction to a clear diamond and opt for a black stone. Onyx is smooth and silky stone that is dense in color. Great care should be taken with onyx as it has a Mohs rating of just 6 to 7. Black diamonds are another option for a black stone, but again will come at a higher price.

The Bottom Line

If you’re tired of the same style of engagement rings that almost every girl seems to be wearing on her finger, considering a non-diamond engagement ring is a good way to break the mold.

Non-diamond engagement rings allow you to showcase your personality, customize your ring and maybe even save some money while you’re at it.

There are so many options out there, so really, there’s nothing to limit you but your imagination!