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8 Stunning Diamond Alternatives for Your Engagement Ring

 

While diamonds are still the most popular gemstone used in engagement rings, in recent years, other gemstones and ethical diamond alternatives have become increasingly sought after!

In brilliant colors and stunning cuts, colored gemstones offer an element of distinction to classic engagement ring settings. Gemstones like sapphires, emeralds, and rubies have been prized since antiquity and can make for a stunning statement. However, if you love the look of a diamond but are deterred by factors such as price point, gemstones like moissanite and white sapphire are excellent diamond substitutes that feature their own unique properties.

There are no rules when it comes to selecting a gemstone for your engagement ring. What matters is that you and your partner love it! Learn about some of our favorite diamond alternatives below.

What is a Diamond Alternative?

A diamond alternative is simply any gemstone a person might choose instead of a diamond for an engagement ring or other fine jewelry. While people may typically think of diamond simulants – stones that are meant to mimic the appearance of diamonds – like cubic zirconia when they think of alternatives to diamonds, there is a whole world of beautiful gemstones we’d recommend as alternatives to diamonds for those who are looking for something unique.

What Stones are Comparable to a Diamond?

Moissanites or white sapphires are most comparable to a diamond. While there are visible differences, these gems will look the closest to a diamond while offering a more affordable price. These stones are also high on the Mohs scale of relative hardness, making them suitable for everyday wear.

What is the Best Alternative to a Diamond?

If you choose to go with a non-diamond gemstone for an engagement ring, we recommend a moissanite or sapphire. These gems are still durable enough for everyday wear and offer a variety of color options, including bright white.

If you want a diamond alternative but don’t want to lose out on sparkle, moissanite will be your best bet. Moissanite has a refractive index from 2.65 – 2.69, which is higher than a diamond. These stones exhibit a fiery, rainbow brilliance, making for superior sparkle.

The most inexpensive diamond alternatives will be softer gemstones like morganites, aquamarines, and amethysts. While these gemstones are beautiful, proceed with caution when adding them to a piece of jewelry that will experience a lot of daily wear and tear like an engagement ring or wedding band. Because these gemstones are not as hard as diamonds or some other diamond alternatives, they are slightly more prone to damage over time. Gemstones like aquamarines and morganites can also dull over time due to everyday wear, household soaps and cleaners, makeup and lotion, and exposure to other elements. However, if you are prepared for the extra care and maintenance of these gemstones, they are still gorgeous options for a ring.

Pros of Diamond Alternatives

  1. Your ring won’t be like anyone else’s! Particularly if you choose a gem with a unique or vibrant color.
  2. Diamond alternatives are typically less expensive than diamonds, making them a great choice for couples on a budget.
  3. Choosing a diamond alternative puts you in good company. Other gemstones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds have long been chosen by celebrities and royalty for their engagement rings instead of diamonds. One of the most famous engagement rings of all time is a beautiful sapphire ring that has been worn by both Princess Diana and her daughter-in-law Kate Middleton.

Cons of Diamond Alternatives

  1. No other gem will be as hard or as durable as a diamond. While sapphires and moissanites come close, diamonds are the gemstones best equipped to last a lifetime.
  2. If you are most interested in a ring with dazzling sparkle, it’s hard to recreate a diamond’s brilliance with an alternative gemstone. While other gems do sparkle, none of them will have the shimmer and brilliance of a diamond.
  3. Diamonds are uniquely suited to show off their beautiful clarity and support a wide variety of cut styles and internal faceting. If what you are really longing for is the look of a classic diamond ring, a diamond alternative will not be able to perfectly replicate the appearance you want.

Popular Natural Diamond Alternatives

1. Lab Grown Diamonds

History

Lab diamond, or man-made diamonds, were first successfully manufactured by a General Electric chemist named Tracy Hall in the 1950s, using the small poor quality diamonds they created for industrial purposes. Since the mid-twentieth century, scientists have since made strides in lab diamonds’ quality and accessibility. In the past decade, the craftsmanship of lab grown diamonds has dramatically improved, making them not only suitable for diamond jewelry but also visually indistinguishable from their natural counterparts. They are graded on the same 4Cs scale as mined diamonds.

About

It’s a bit of a misnomer to call lab grown diamonds a “diamond alternative,” because lab created diamonds are real diamonds. Lab diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds. These beautiful diamond gems are grown in highly controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that duplicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop when they form in the mantle, beneath the Earth’s crust. To the naked eye, lab grown diamonds are absolutely identical to mined diamonds and, like mined diamonds, are available in every color grade, cut, clarity, and shape – including flawless white D colors. Lab diamonds can only be distinguished from natural diamonds using specialized equipment that can detect the minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth.

Price Range

Because these gems are lab made, they offer excellent value and are more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality. If you would like a fancy colored diamond or a diamond with a large carat weight, we would highly recommend looking into a lab created diamond!

Brilliance

Lab grown diamonds exhibit the same brilliance as natural diamonds. Like a natural diamond, a lab diamond’s brilliance will be highly impacted by its cut grade. Lab grown diamonds are available in both round and fancy shapes and will showcase the same nuances in brilliance as these different shapes display. For example, a lab round diamond will have more brilliant sparkle while an emerald lab diamond will have a reflective sparkle.

2. Moissanites

Photo by @methdguez

History

Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan, who later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Initially, moissanites were thought to be diamonds, but it was later determined that the crystals were composed of silicon carbide.

About

At 9.5 on the Mohs scale, moissanites are the second hardest mineral in the world behind diamonds. Moissanite rings look stunning on their own in solitaire designs or alongside diamond accents. Learn more about moissanites vs. diamonds.

Price Range

Moissanite gemstones are one of the most affordable diamond alternatives. While characteristics like color, shape, and size can largely impact the price point of moissanites, a 1 ct. or 6.5mm equivalent can range from around $400 – $1,000.

Brilliance

Moissanite brilliance is one of the largest visual differences between these gems and diamonds. Due to their unique faceting pattern, moissanites display a fiery, rainbow sparkle that can create a “disco ball” effect. This unique sparkle is why many gravitate to moissanites. On the other hand, this noticeable difference in brilliance might make them less popular among some shoppers. Moissanite has a higher refractive index than a diamond, ranging from 2.65 – 2.69.

3. Sapphires

Photo by @lisarochellephotography for @simone_alexandra

History

Until the twentieth century, sapphires were more popular than diamonds as a featured gem in engagement rings. Typically thought of as royal blue, sapphires also appear in other hues such as peachpinktealyellow and white.

About

Aside from their beauty, a sapphire is a great choice for an engagement ring because they’re among the world’s must durable naturally occurring elements, coming in at 9 on the Mohs scale. The strength helps them stand up to the everyday wear required of an engagement ring.

Price Range

As with all the gemstones on this list, the price of sapphires will depend on their quality, size, cut, whether you are choosing a naturally mined or lab created stone, and other unique characteristics. However, sapphires are typically significantly less expensive than comparably sized diamonds. An approximately 1 ct. sapphire will typically cost between $750 to $3,500 depending on its characteristics and color.

Brilliance

Their dazzling colors and lustrous beauty make sapphires an excellent diamond alternative for an engagement ring. A sapphire’s brilliance will be unique to each stone as every sapphire is custom cut to display the best color and brilliance for that individual gem. Typically, a lighter color sapphire will be cut deeper to add dimension and intensity to the color, while a darker color stone will be cut shallower to allow more light to reflect within the sapphire.

4. Aquamarines

Photo by @girlhoodscrapes

History

Meaning “water of the sea”, aquamarine’s name originated in the early 1700s, around the start of the Georgian era. Aquamarine was once referred to as the “Sailor’s Stone,” because ancient sailors believed that the stone would protect them from disasters at sea. During World War II the US Navy commissioned a coastal patrol yacht called the USS Aquamarine, named in honor of the gemstone and its connection to the ocean.

About

Aquamarine is a beautiful pale blue semi-precious gemstone. These gorgeous gems are part of the beryl family of minerals, which also includes emeralds. Aquamarine is mined in Brazil, throughout Africa and Asia, and in Colorado, where it is the state gemstone. It is also the birthstone for March. Although aquamarine and blue topaz can be mistaken for each other, aquamarine is more valuable due to its rarity and natural coloring, while blue topaz is produced by treating colorless topaz with radiation. Aquamarines have a score of 7.5-8 on the hardness scale, which means that they’re durable enough to be worn as jewelry but that you should avoid any rough wear that might scratch them.

Price Range

Aquamarines are amongst the more affordable semi-precious gemstones, with a 6.5mm, or 1 carat equivalent, aquamarine typically costing around $700. Color intensity will be the most important factor in determining price, as deep colors are considered the most valuable.

Brilliance

Aquamarines are beloved for combining a beautiful shade of blue with exceptional clarity, but these stones are not known for having high brilliance or sparkle. People who love aquamarines prize their soft blue color and organic look in ring settings over something with more brilliance.

5. Morganites

Photo by @ashleevictoria11

History

Morganites were discovered in 1922 in Madagascar as a new form of pink beryl and was originally called “rose beryl”. The gemologist George Frederick Kunz renamed it to “morganite” as a way to honor his patron, American financier and philanthropist J.P. Morgan. Morgan, one of the most prominent gem collectors of the early 1900s, donated many gems to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and to the Museum of Natural History in Paris, so it’s only fitting he has a gemstone named after him!

About

Blush-hued morganite looks beautiful as the centerpiece of an engagement ring. Morganite is a pink to peach variety of beryl. Other famous varieties of beryl include emeralds and aquamarines. Like other varieties of beryl, morganite is considered a softer stone and ranks 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. While this is durable enough to be used for jewelry, it does mean this stone should be handled with care.

Price Range

Morganites are affordable gemstones, making them a popular choice for those looking for pink gems at a lower price point. An approximately 1 carat morganite gemstone will typically cost between $400 and $500.

Brilliance

Apart from their beautiful color, they are also treasured for their sparkling clarity and high degree of brilliance. Morganite looks lovely when paired with rose gold as the two naturally complement each other’s warm undertones.

6. Emeralds

Photo by @kaitlyn.chiu

History

Valued throughout history, emeralds are one of the rarest gemstones and make a beautiful choice for an engagement ring center gemstone. Along with diamonds, rubies, pearls, and sapphires, emeralds have been one of the most prized precious gems throughout time. Emeralds are the gems of royalty and are the most well-known and highly prized of green gemstones. Legend has it that wearing emeralds can give you the ability to foresee the future and see the truth. It has also been believed that emerald has the power to cure disease and protect against evil.

About

Like aquamarines and morganites, emeralds are a variety of beryl. Emeralds are formed when iron, chromium, and vanadium are present in beryl. More iron will give a slight blue tint to emeralds, while the chromium and vanadium are what give emeralds their intense green color.

Price Range

High quality naturally mined emeralds can be valued and priced similarly to diamonds with comparable specifications. However, it is not challenging to find a beautiful emerald gem within a specific price range. Choosing a lab created emerald will also offer you lower price points. An approximately 1 carat emerald will typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000.

Brilliance

Unlike diamonds, whose clarity must be evaluated using a 10x magnification, emerald clarity is graded with the naked eye because their inclusions are highly visible. Natural emeralds will have more inclusions than lab created emeralds, but that’s not a bad thing! The hazy and cloudy look of natural emeralds is prized by many for its antique and organic beauty. Lab created emeralds are typically a lot more brilliant and clearer than natural emeralds, if that is a look you prefer. Fewer inclusions also mean that lab emeralds are also slightly more durable than naturally mined emeralds.

7. Rubies

photo by @deenafloresphotography

History

Rubies have been valued for their rare beauty for thousands of years and are considered one of the four original gemstones along with diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. Because red has long been associated with love and passion, a ruby makes a fitting focal point for an engagement ring. Their association with royalty also makes ruby’s crimson red color look excellent in vintage rings  as well as modern styles featuring lustrous precious metals.

About

Rubies are a variety of corundum, just like sapphires. Trace elements of chromium in the crystal’s structure are what causes rubies’ red color that appears to almost glow from within. These beautiful gems are ranked 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes them a great choice for jewelry that will be worn every day.

Price Range

Because of their beauty and history, natural rubies can be one of the costliest colored gemstones. Color is the most significant factor that will affect a ruby’s price, followed by clarity, cut quality, and dimensions. An approximately 1 carat ruby will typically cost between $1,200 and $1,500.

Brilliance

Rubies are brilliant stones, but they are prized more for their color and clarity than for overall sparkle. Because of their deep color, light passing through will offer more shimmer than reflective sparkle. As with emeralds, lab created rubies will have fewer inclusions and have more reflective brilliance than natural rubies.

8. Amethyst

Photo by @danielle.lambo

History

Amethysts have been prized for centuries, and archeologists have discovered amethyst jewelry dated as early as 2000 BC. This mystical stone is also associated with many legends. For example, some historical accounts claim that St. Valentine had an amethyst jewel carved with Cupid’s image. Amethysts are one of the gemstones mentioned in several times in the Bible, including as part of the famous breastplate of the high priest Aaron. Greek and Roman mythology claim that amethysts were formed when a maiden named Amethyst was turned to white quartz by the goddess Diana when the girl was trying to escape the drunken god of wine, Dionysus. According to the legend, when Dionysus realized the consequences of his actions, he felt remorse and spilled wine over the white stone staining it purple. Because of this, ancient Greeks and Romans believed that wearing amethysts could protect against intoxication and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Because of its rarity, the color purple has also long been associated with royalty and wealth.

About

Vibrant amethysts come in colors ranging from deep purple to the palest shades of pastel lavender and even pink. The most valuable hue is a strong reddish purple shade, but we love every shade of amethyst! Lavender hues look particularly stunning in amethyst engagement rings when complemented by diamond accents. Amethysts have a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it a lasting option for jewelry; but they are also a stone that should be handled with care in settings that will get a lot of everyday wear.

Price Range

Amethysts are one of the most affordable gemstones and offers excellent value. An approximately 1 carat amethyst will usually cost less than $500, depending on its unique qualities and characteristics.

Brilliance

Most amethysts have excellent clarity, with no inclusions visible to the naked eye, and are available in a variety of cuts and carat weights.

Final Thoughts

Which diamond alternative is your favorite? Do you love the look of colored gemstone engagement rings? Let us know in the comments below or on our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

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Comments (3)

Anna Muscat Says:
July 25th, 2018 at 9:26 am

I LOVE ALL GEMSTONE COLOURS, ESPECIALLY THE AMETHYST, BUT I WOULD BE HAPPY WITH ANY COLOUR GEMSTONE FOR A RING SETTING, BUT THEN YOU CAN’T GO PAST A 1ST GRADE DIAMOND.

Kenrick l samuel. Says:
July 14th, 2018 at 5:05 pm

I do like great design diamond I believe my colour is red for a finger I am a Leo is I am very happy for my sign colours are red yellow and green for the little I have seen.

Lawaana Reitz Says:
July 2nd, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I love this site and will share it ! What lovely blush tings you offer !

8 Diamond Alternatives [+Pros, Cons, History, and Price in 2021]