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4 Gemstone Engagement Rings To Avoid and What To Choose Instead

By: Abby Zamis

In an era of microtrends and fast-moving fads, it’s hard to feel like your ring is truly unique. So in an attempt to differentiate from the masses, we see a ton of clients seek out unusual gemstone engagement rings. But let’s take a step back. Totally get it; you don’t wanna look identical to every other engaged person out there. But pick the wrong gem, and you might not even have a ring to compare against others. Not all alternative stones for engagement rings are actually meant to be on a ring you wear daily. 

Instead of seeing us as haters, think of us as motivators. Motivators that encourage you to get a ring that’s actually made to last as long as your marriage. AKA forever. (forever, forever, ever, forever, ever). Let’s get into it.

Put Your Money Where Your Mohs Is

Yeah, you heard us. If you’re going to invest in that life-long ring to symbolize your love, you’re going to want something that lasts your whole life long. How do you know if it’s going to do that? The Mohs Hardness Scale. 

The Mohs Hardness Scale tells you the hardness of a mineral (or gemstone) by observing whether its surface is scratched by a substance of known or defined hardness. In plain terms, it tells you what stone’s gonna break after you buy it. A diamond is a ten, the highest rating, on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That’s why it’s often the first choice for a ring you’re gonna wear 24/7—it’s not getting scratched. Dust, yes, that stuff sitting on your bookshelf right now, is a seven. If you choose gemstones for an engagement ring lower than a seven on the Mohs Scale, your ring could be damaged just by…existing.

Here’s the other thing you’ll need to consider when looking for the best alternative stones for engagement rings: your lifestyle. Are you, or is your beloved, particularly clumsy? Do you talk with your hands a little too much at dinner parties? Do they never take off their rings when they do the dishes? Are you known to spend tons of time in the great outdoors? Do they avoid doing maintenance on the items that need it? Your ring should seamlessly fit into the life you already lead.

Don’t want to fully commit to color? Try the toi et moi trend for a diamond/gemstone combo to last a lifetime.
Looking for something hyper-specific on a tight budget? This may be the reason to open your search to moissanite.

Avoid Opal (treatment)

Mohs Scale: 5 to 6.5

While beautiful, reflective, and oh-so-unique, opals present their own set of problems if they’re chosen as gemstones for engagement rings. These delicate stones dry out as time goes on and can easily crack. To keep them in tip-top shape, you have to oil them. And oil them. And oil them. Like it’s your full-time job. And even then, the oil may not penetrate deep enough to hydrate the opal, or on the flip side, it could cloud your stone. It’s bad news when the ring is higher maintenance than the ring wearer…

So consider a white sapphire engagement ring to get the look you desire without having a cracked or cloudy stone. People can hardly tell the difference when you select a cabochon (pronounced kaa·beau·chaan) cut white sapphire. It’s a win-win.

Give Up Garnet

Mohs Scale: 6.5 to 7.5

Ok, here’s the gossip on garnets: they’re not that great of an engagement ring gemstone. We know it represents the heart, love, and is known as “the commitment stone,” but honey, if you commit to these gems for your engagement ring, you will be disappointed. With a low rating on the Mohs Scale, daily wear and tear will rub down the edges of your gem, and the table can show scuffs or scratches.

Instead of a garnet, opt for ruby gemstone engagement rings. Rubies sit at a nine on the Mohs Scale, so your stone will stay strong in the face of regular use. Plus, with the variety of red hues, you can still find a color that expresses your undying love and passion.

Sapphires range in color, hue and saturation. They also come in lab!
Emeralds have long been used in engagement rings, but they do require extra care! Design your dream emerald.

Emerald Isn’t Something To Envy

Mohs Scale: 7.5 to 8

You may notice emeralds’ Mohs Scale rating is pretty dece. A 7.5 to 8 could withstand the regular wear that a gemstone engagement ring sees. But there’s a twist you might not have seen coming. Or, actually, maybe you could have. Emeralds are known for having a ton of inclusions and internal fractures, which lead to easy breaks and complicated cleaning situations. 

If you’re head over heels for a green gem, consider a green sapphire or green moissanite. Both have a stronger internal structure and can handle whatever your hands throw their way. (There’s a throw hands joke here somewhere…)

Count Out Quartz (hardness)

Mohs Scale: 7

Remember that little dust fact we floated a couple sections ago? Well, another fun fact coming right at ya: dust is partially comprised of quartz. That means it has the same hardness and, therefore, can wear each other down. Different types of quartz can be appealing as some of the best alternative stones for engagement rings, especially with what they can symbolize, but they don’t have lasting power.

Try deviating from the norm a different way: with a salt and pepper diamond. When adequately vetted, the inclusions that make salt and pepper diamonds what they are do not negatively impact the integrity of the stone like emerald inclusions can. You’ll still get that hazy multilayered effect that quartz shows off so elegantly.

For everyday wear, we would typically recommend a diamond or sapphire due to their trademark durability. Want a pop of color? Consider a fancy colored diamond!

So, what gemstones are good for engagement rings?

To put it simply, the best gemstone engagement rings are ones that a. you love and b. will last. As you’re shopping for your perfectly unique ring and asking yourself, “What stone should be in an engagement ring?” remember the Mohs Hardness Scale and your lifestyle. Look around for similar alternatives to what gemstone originally piqued your interest. And finally, invest in something that will last. Now put your knowledge to the test. Explore Frank Darling’s collection of stones and see what alternatives work for you.

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