Diamond alternatives for Engagement Rings

An engagement ring represents a promise of love for a lifetime. A commitment to until “death do we part.” That’s a heavy message for one small piece of jewelry to hold.

People often associate an engagement ring with having the traditional center stone of a diamond. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that this became the expected design.


In 1938, De Beers, a company that controlled the world supply of rough diamonds, saw that the sale of diamonds and their popularity was on a decline. This was during the great depression so diamonds were seen as something only for the rich. A massive advertising campaign was implemented. Apparently, it worked. From 1938 to 1941, diamond sales increased by 55%.

It was only 80 years ago this happened. Now it is so much a part of our culture that the ultimate symbol of love is a diamond engagement ring. The diamond is now generally regarded as the premier gem of the world.

Weddings and engagement rituals are ancient. Before De Beers, many actually preferred colored precious stones, such as rubies and sapphires.

Here are 10 stones that are used are for engagement rings by top jewelers:


A variety of crystalline quartz that’s the traditional birthstone for February. Its color is a clear purple or bluish-violet, so also called violet-quartz. The word amethyst comes from the Greek word amethustos, meaning not drunken. Construed to mean it was a remedy for drunkenness. A good amethyst is a deep purple color (like wine) and perfectly transparent throughout. Wear this engagement ring and the bride to be will stay sober!


Aquamarine is Latin for seawater. March’s birthstone was said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. It was also said to enhance the happiness of marriages and is also the gem of the 19th wedding anniversary, so this may be a good choice for your engagement ring. The best Aquamarine gems have high clarity and clear transparency with blue to slightly greenish blue hues.


Cat's Eye is a highly polished gemstone with a rounded or convex top with no faceting. It shows a narrow band of concentrated light going across the width of the stone. This effect is known as chatoyancy, a French word signifying a changeable, undulating luster, like the eye of a cat in the dark, led to it being sold as "cat's-eye."

A well-established term in the precious stone trade, there are other minerals that exhibit chatoyancy. The true cat's-eye is cymophane, a variety of chrysoberyl, a mineral resembling beryl in containing the element beryllium, but otherwise distinct.


Emerald is a general trade designation for various green precious and semi-precious stones and not, in the jewelry trade, the specific term of any gem mineral. Well-known varieties include emerald and aquamarine, which are both a mineral called beryl.

Beryl, of the accepted green emerald hue, is the true or standard emerald. The green beryl, excepting in its color, is the same mineral as aquamarine, golden, and other variously colored beryl’s. One of the rarest of gems is flawless emerald-hued beryl.


Birthstone of January, garnet is a name applied to a variety of gem minerals red or brownish-red. Almandite, a stone of rich cherry, claret, or blood-red color is the precious garnet. It also occurs in a wide variety of colors, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, gray, black.


The birth-stone of October. The “Precious” Opal is one of the most individual of gems of all the opaque minerals. It reveals the most beautiful play “play-of-color.” “Black Opals” are another form of opal and the most valuable, due to its dark body tone and the vibrant play of color. Queen Victoria gave opals to each of her daughters at their marriage, so this stone has a long association with marriage.


Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire. Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market. It may also be out of the reach of some who want it for their engagement ring.


The stone of April is the symbol of constancy, truth, and virtue. Like the ruby, it is corundum, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, and the name " sapphire " is generally applied to corundum of any color except red. More specifically, the name is applied to blue specimens, the desired tints being royal blue, velvet blue, and cornflower blue. A characteristic of this variety of corundum is, that occasionally its color effected by artificial light differs from that manifested in natural light, being generally less brilliant.


Yellow is the color generally associated with the topaz, yet topaz is sometimes colorless or may present almost any color. Traditionally the birthstone for November, Topaz is either transparent or translucent; the colors including wine, amber, honey, and straw-yellow, pale blue to pale green of many shades, greyish, reddish, and white.


A popular gem mineral today, as it was anciently with the Persians and Native Americans. Its color is various shades of bright blue like a cloudless sky or robin's egg blue. Topaz actually has a wide color range that includes various tones and saturations of green, yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple.

Colorless topaz is plentiful and is often treated to give it a blue color. Topaz is also pleochroic, meaning that the gem can show different colors in different crystal directions. Known for thousands of years as a holy stone and a bringer of good fortune, your marriage will certainly be successful using this for your engagement ring!


So, there you have it, a selection of alternatives to diamonds for your engagement ring. There are many more actually. So wide and so interesting is the subject of precious stones.

Take your time and find one that matches your style, budget, and anything that represents the special relationship you have with your partner. You can then have a jeweler create a unique and personal design for you based on the diamond alternative you choose.