Why Haven’t You Considered Gemstone Engagement Rings Yet?
By Stephanie Dore
Gemstone engagement rings aren’t for everyone. After all, the vast majority of couples still choose to buy a diamond engagement ring over everything, sticking to the classic look with lots of sparkle. But you’re not everyone, now, are you? Strictly speaking, diamonds are a type of gemstone, but when we say “gemstone engagement rings” we mean pretty much any gemstone other than diamond. We’re talking sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and more. A whole wide rainbow of hues to choose from, whether you just love a certain color, want a birthstone engagement ring, or are looking for a budget-friendly engagement ring option. But choosing a gemstone engagement ring vs a diamond isn’t for the faint of heart. Here’s our favorite reasons why (and why not) to buy a gemstone engagement ring.
They’re more personal
The biggest reason to buy a gemstone engagement ring is that it’s a very personal choice. And what’s more personal than a ring you’re likely going to wear every day of the year? You want it to be something that really captures your personal style. Unique gemstone engagement rings do just that, and will help your ring stand out from the crowd. You can choose a birthstone for your engagement ring, or even both of your birthstones in a toi et moi two-stone engagement ring style.
Pairing more than one stone in a ring is already unique, but doing it with two super-personalized gems is bonus points. Or you can simply choose a color you love, be that a gothy black diamond, a romantic pink sapphire, or a lush green emerald (after all, Jackie O. did it, so can you!). If you don’t want to go all in on a major colored gemstone for your ring, try designing a custom engagement ring setting with gem side stones to accent a center diamond. Blue sapphire side stones, for instance, are already a super classic style. And of course, there’s the famous Kate Middleton/Princess Diana sapphire and diamond halo engagement ring example, but we’ve been loving how our clients use this sapphire ring inspo to create their own super modern styles, too.
They’re more colorful
Obviously, when we think of gemstones, we think of color, and we love that. There are endless options to choose from in the rainbow of gemstone colors available on the market. Literally a rainbow, darling. But even if you’re not one for rich, bright colors, gemstones still present plenty of options to choose from. There are even white sapphires!
We love the look of a salt-and-pepper diamond, for instance. Which, we know, is still technically a diamond, but because it presents with a totally different look than the classic colorless stone, we’re going to include it here. A salt-and-pepper diamond gives you a very cool black and white stone that’s totally unique but keeps with the monotone dressing theme you’ve mastered. We also love choosing a color, say blue, for instance, and designing a cluster ring with several different shades of the same hue. This gives your ring an ombré effect that can’t be beat.
If you want a clear gemstone but not a diamond, we’ve got you covered. Moissanite is the star of the diamond alternative show, in all its clear, sparkly glory. A diamond simulant, moissanite is actually making quite a name for itself as, well, itself. Why? Bling, bling, baby. That’s right, moissanite is actually more sparkly than diamond. Mind you, it’s a different kind of sparkle — one that’s more rainbow flash than bright white brilliance — but still. Good to know: Moissanite is a 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a close runner up to diamond in terms of durability, and thus perfect for any engagement ring. It’s also created in a lab, which offers plenty of options for getting a custom stone shape or size, and it offers more carat for your cash.
When it comes to engagement rings, size definitely matters (to some), so getting the most for your money might be at the top of your priority list. But if you’re working with a budget and just can’t seem to find a diamond big enough to suit your wallet and your wish list, gemstone engagement rings can be a great option. Why is this? Well, gemstones and diamonds are just graded and priced completely differently, with diamonds flat out being more expensive by sheer carat weight. Most gemstones on the market (unless we’re talking about super-rare museum-worthy collectible stones) are sold by their millimeter size, not their carat weight.
This is because gemstones are cut to show off their color rather than their brilliance, and therefore have much more cut and shape and carat variation. It means, frankly, that you can usually get a much larger stone for your money when compared to a high-quality diamond. We do still suggest paying close attention to the polish and symmetry of a gemstone to ensure that it sparkles (in its own way), and make sure the cut is really showing off the color. You don’t want a super dark stone that loses light or something with what we call “windowing” where you just see right through the stone and have open areas with less body color. The only way to really buy a great colored gem is to see it in person, so make sure you have lots of photos and videos of the stones you’re selecting from if you’re buying gemstone rings online.
They’re more available
Engagement rings with gemstones are everywhere! While the vast majority of engagement ring retailers and marketing are still focused on diamond engagement rings, if you look for them, you’ll often find these same sellers offer stunning gemstone rings as well. And while it might be tough finding just the right diamond shape, size, and quality you’re looking for, finding a colored gem can sometimes be simpler because you’re usually just looking for size and color rather than a whole slew of other qualities to narrow down. That said, there are still gemstones that are just as rare as diamonds if you’re looking for something super specific. At Frank Darling, our custom design team and sourcing specialists work with you to source and select the perfect gemstone for your dream ring.
They’re more sustainable
Often, when people are shopping for alternative engagement rings, they’re doing so out of concern over the sustainability of natural diamonds. You know, the mining and carbon footprint and whatnot. And it’s totally fair to think maybe colored gemstones are more sustainable. But the fact is, natural colored gems are also mined and follow many of the same processes as natural diamonds. They’re just less known for some of the downsides of the industry. There are, however, many regulations in place today to help curb these downsides and build a more sustainable natural gem trade.
If you want a sustainable gemstone, you can also look to lab-created gemstones. Like lab grown diamonds, these are grown in the lab and have a much smaller footprint. You can specifically look for stones from US mines. Or you can shop for vintage gemstone engagement rings, which instead of pulling a new material out of the Earth, repurpose what is already around. There are gemstone engagement rings from every era of fashion out in the market. Just make sure you’re having it inspected by a gemologist to verify the stone is authentic before you hand over your hard earned cash.
They’re (unfortunately) more delicate
When it comes to daily wear, gemstone engagement rings simply won’t ever stand up to diamond’s durability. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. We measure gemstone hardness (and therefore durability) by what’s called the Mohs scale of hardness, which is determined by what materials can be scratched by other materials. Diamond is a 10 on the Mohs scale, and the hardest known material on Earth. It can only be scratched by, well, another diamond. Sapphires and rubies (both are varieties of corundum) are a 9 on the Mohs scale. The thing to note about the Mohs scale is that it’s a 1–10 scale but the numbers do not fall at even intervals in terms of hardness. For example, the difference in hardness between a sapphire (9) and diamond (10) is much greater than a quartz (7) and a topaz (8). The further you go down the scale, the less durable the gemstone, and less recommended for daily wear, especially in a ring because our hands take so much wear and tear. The best gemstones for engagement rings will be anything 7 or above.
They’re more affordable
Yep. Compared to fine diamonds, gemstones will save you some serious cash and are an affordable engagement ring option if you’re shopping on a budget. And lab created sapphires or other gemstones can save you even more. You can get a showstopping, large gemstone engagement ring for a fraction of the price of a large diamond engagement ring, which means more money left for a fancy honeymoon or whatever else your heart desires. You can also flow some of that cash back into a fancier ring setting, going with a beautiful halo engagement ring, pave side stones, or a ring stack to rival any boho babe.
Where to Buy a Gemstone Engagement Ring
Well, obviously, here at Frank Darling, silly. What color will you fall head over heels for? When it comes to alternative gemstone engagement rings, you really can’t go wrong. Want to start designing your own colorful creation? Try our style quiz and get a free sketch to kick off your custom engagement ring process. Or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to work directly with our gem experts on finding the perfect gemstone engagement ring just for you.