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Best Diamond Alternatives: 7 Stunning Unique & Ethical Gems

Maybe it’s the price. Maybe it’s the look. Maybe it’s the derivation. Or maybe you simply want a dash of color.

For whatever reason, sometimes diamonds are not a girl’s (or boy’s) best friend. To create the piece of jewelry you really want, you need to seek out a few diamond alternatives.

But where do you start?

What on Earth could provide the same level of sparkle, elegance, and exhilaration as a diamond engagement ring?

There are several great alternatives to diamond rings and other pieces of diamond jewelry. You just need to know where to look.

We’ve done the work for you.

If you’re shopping for unique non-diamond engagement rings, the following seven gems provide ethical, conflict-free and affordable options to consider.

When placed in the creative hands of a seasoned master jeweler, they can carry a similar “thrill factor” to diamonds.

Sapphires

Sapphires are the forgotten “empresses” of jewelry.

In fact, they used to be more popular than diamonds. 

With their long-standing regal status amongst jewelry buyers in the west (largely because of their royal blue color as well as their sparkle), they were long coveted for engagement rings and other pieces of jewelry.

In the twentieth century, the focus changed to diamonds for engagement rings. However, as the trend towards diamond alternatives gathers pace again, sapphires are right at the front of the queue.

Don’t think of sapphires just as the classic royal blue – though that is their most common form.

You can also find sapphires in the following colors:

  • Peach
  • White
  • Pink
  • Teal
  • Yellow

Why are sapphires suited to engagement rings?

Sapphires are ideal diamond alternatives for engagement rings because, when expertly cut and set, they hold a similar magical beauty to diamonds. 

Think of sapphires and you see stirring beauty and sparkling colors. White sapphires offer many of the same properties as diamonds, including appearance.

Of course, you also want your engagement ring to last. That’s another benefit of diamonds – it’s the hardest naturally occurring substance in the world, after all.

Sapphires are almost as durable. The Mohs Hardness Scale, which measures mineral hardness, places diamonds at the maximum 10 and sapphires at 9. They consist of corundum, which is the third hardest substance on the planet.

This makes sapphires well-suited to the everyday use that engagement rings must endure and protects against scratches and other damage.

Diamonds are still four times hardier than sapphires but sapphire rings can outlast you and stay in great condition: just what you want for your once-in-a-lifetime engagement ring.

Price comparison with diamonds

This is difficult because everything depends on the quality of each individual gemstone. Also, there is no grading system for sapphires, unlike diamonds.

However, ultimately, a premium diamond will be several times more expensive than a good quality sapphire gemstone of the same carat weight.

Amethyst

Think of a vibrant purple gemstone and amethyst will probably spring to mind.

However, did you know that amethysts also come in other colors?

  • Pale lavender or lilac
  • Pale pink
  • Strong reddish purple

Amethysts usually boast clarity and purity, making them seem perfect to the naked eye.

Along with their great beauty comes great affordability.

Compared to the precious gemstones included here, amethysts are generally affordable for almost everyone, regardless of the cut or weight (within reason, of course!) 

They are considered semi-precious rather than precious gemstones. However, some of the rarer amethysts with red and blue sparkling hues are pricier.

Why are amethysts suited to engagement rings?

Amethysts can add vibrant or pale color as a standalone stone in an engagement ring.

They have a Mohs Scale hardness of 7, so are hard enough to use for a ring worn daily but will not quite stand up to the wear and tear of diamonds or sapphires – few stones will, in truth.

Maybe you just love the colors of amethyst but also the untouchable sparkling beauty of diamonds?

A combination of the two (using diamonds as accents) is often a great way to embellish an engagement ring.

Price comparison with diamonds

There is really no comparison here. A good quality, average-sized amethyst will not be in the same league as a diamond, pricewise.

Note that amethyst prices rise gradually not exponentially (as is the case with diamonds) because larger amethysts are quite abundant.

Emerald

Emerald is another diamond alternative that most people are aware of today and which has been prized since antiquity.

Think emerald and we think the brightest, most beautiful green gemstone on the planet. 

Emeralds are always green though they vary in shade from bluish-green to slightly yellowish-green. 

Green beryl is a variety of stone with a lower concentration of the green tone.

Pure emeralds are rare, of high value, and associated with royalty and with mystical powers. Above all, they look fantastic in engagement rings!

With a hardness rating of 7.5 to 8 (formed from the mineral beryl) you can expect your emerald to be resistant to daily wear and tear. 

However, many emeralds are included and they are a little step down from the impressive durability of diamonds or sapphires.

The clarity of emerald is measured with the naked eye, with no magnification required.

Why are emeralds suited to engagement rings?

Some couples just love the color green. If you do, then emerald is the most sought-after green gemstone on the planet.

It is durable and looks stunning in engagement rings.

Emeralds can stand alone or add their unique touch of color to engagement rings that also include diamonds.

Price comparison with diamonds

Like diamonds and sapphires, emeralds are precious gemstones. They escalate in price rapidly with size. 

A large, high-quality emerald (with the most desirable bluish-green coloration) can be more expensive than a similar-weight diamond. 

In general, however, you should expect to pay less for an emerald because most have inclusions.

Ruby

Think of a red gemstone and we think of rubies.

Another precious gemstone that has been prized since antiquity, rubies are considered one of the “big three” rivals to diamonds, along with sapphires and emeralds.

Side by side, these four precious stones look stunning.

With all the associations of red down the years (love, passion, war, blood), it is no wonder that rubies have long been valued.

They also make a perfect accompaniment or alternative to a diamond for an engagement ring.

Rubies are exclusively red, the most highly prized ones being a deep crimson color. Most are treated more than other precious gemstones.

Why are rubies suited to engagement rings?

As well as the associations of red with love and passion and their stunning sparkle when cut by a master craftsman (not always the case with rubies, however), these stones are very durable. 

They score a 9 on the Mohs Scale, which is similar to sapphires. They are formed from the same basic mineral (corundum). 

If you’re looking for a traditional or vintage look in your ring, rubies are especially suitable.

Price comparison with diamonds

Like diamonds and sapphires, rubies escalate in price rapidly with size and quality.

The finest quality rubies are extremely rare and may fetch over $1 million per carat. That’s higher than diamonds or sapphires. 

However, more standard high-quality rubies are available for less than the price of high-quality diamonds.

Moissanite

Moissanite is a semi-precious gemstone that arrived on the jewelry scene much later than the precious stones mentioned so far.

It was only discovered in the late 1800s and was named after its founder, Henri Moissan. 

Originally thought to be a form of diamond, moissanite came into its own when it was found that its crystals were made of silicon carbide rather than pure carbon (as with diamonds).

To make matters even more complicated, moissanite may even be found alongside diamonds in diamond mines around the world.

Moissanite is rare and a very adequate alternative to diamond if you are looking for a traditional, eye-catching engagement ring without the investment required in diamonds.

Why is moissanite suited to engagement rings?

In addition to its physical appearance being very close to that of diamonds, moissanite is almost as hard and durable.

Rated at either 9.25 or 9.5 on the hardness scale, it can withstand most of the day-to-day attrition that engagement rings go through. In fact, it is the second hardest substance on the planet!

You should have no worries about a moissanite ring lasting the distance of your marriage.

Price comparison with diamonds

The major benefit of moissanite over diamonds is its price.

Moissanite of a similar size and appearance to a diamond will cost up to 90 percent less. So, a 1-carat moissanite stone will cost hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.

This makes it ideal if you are looking for a more affordable engagement ring, with moissanite working equally as well on its own or in combination with diamond or other gemstone accents.

Aquamarine

An often-overlooked alternative to diamonds for engagement rings is aquamarine.

This pale blue semi-precious gemstone adds a sparkling, watery blue elegance to any item of jewelry.

Like emeralds, aquamarine consists of the mineral beryl, which gives it a hardness rating of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs Scale.

As the birthstone for March in modern times, there has been lasting interest in this stone, particularly because of its unusual blue color tone and great clarity.

Why is aquamarine suited to engagement rings?

Aquamarine can work on its own in engagement rings but is even more stunning positioned next to a sapphire. The combination of royal blue with pale blue is truly eye-catching.

Aquamarine is less durable than the sapphire but taking good care of your ring should avoid any problems with scratches in day-to-day wear.

Price comparison with diamonds

Aquamarine is plentiful and very affordable for most people hunting for an engagement ring with semi-precious stones.

This gemstone occurs naturally in large sizes (50-carat examples are quite common) so the price rises gradually with size, not exponentially like diamonds.

You will find aquamarine at a fraction of the price that you would pay for diamonds of a similar carat weight.

Morganite 

The unique peach or pink color of morganite helps it stand out amongst semi-precious gemstones. This is due to its varying manganese content.

Another member of the beryl family of stones, alongside emerald and aquamarine, morganite can also carry a bluish coloration. 

These stones are prized for their exceptional clarity and brilliance and, once expertly cut, can rival any gemstone for elegance and sparkle.

Why is morganite suited to engagement rings?

Morganite is often set into rose gold in engagement rings and this is a striking combination. The peach and the rose are both warm tones that work exceptionally well together.

It has become a more popular choice in modern times. Medium-light to medium pink tones are the most sought after, especially when the stone is clear and without inclusions.

Durability is lower than with most of the precious stones but if you look after your ring, there shouldn’t be too many problems with wear and tear.

Price comparison with diamonds

Morganite is frequently found in large crystals so even large stones are relatively affordable – there is no incremental price increase with size.

An engagement ring made of morganite will cost a fraction of what you would pay for a ring containing a diamond of a similar carat weight.

Looking for alternatives to diamond engagement rings right now?

In our opinion, there are no gems better than diamonds. However, there are no rules to say that a fiancée must have a diamond ring.

Diamonds will remain the choice of many, for obvious reasons. That’s the classic style of engagement ring.

However, if you’re looking for something with a twist of color or you want to make sure that the engagement ring you buy is made from conflict-free gemstones, one of the diamond alternatives described above may fit the bill.

In the right settings, they can offer the same “wow” factor and level of beauty as a diamond ring.

Much will depend on the quality of the gemstone, the quality of the workmanship in cutting the stone, and the quality of the other materials you use in your ring.

Get these elements right and your ring will be licensed to thrill!

Start shopping now.
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