The Jewelry Box Blog

Non-Diamond Engagement Rings: The Options Explained

on Mar 28, 2023 11:00 AM
Yellow, blue, and pink engagement ring

Shopping for an engagement ring? Not so into diamonds? Don’t worry, there are plenty of non-diamond engagement rings to consider. The best non-diamond engagement ring options feature colored gems as the center stone, a unique choice that tells the world you have a strong sense of personal style and aren’t one to follow the rules.

How to choose? When it comes to non-diamond engagement rings, there are a gazillion colored stones to choose from, all of them visually intriguing, but not all are suitable for engagement rings. Your non-diamond engagement ring center stone needs to be hard and sturdy enough to withstand everyday wear (and the occasional bumps that go along with it). 

What do we mean by hardness? There’s something called the Mohs scale, which ranks gem and mineral hardness  from 1 (softest:  talc) to 10 (hardest: diamond)—the higher a stone rates on the Mohs scale, the safer it is for feature in a jewel you’re going to be wearing every day. 

The most popular non-diamond engagement rings rate relatively high on the Mohs scale (a win from the standpoint of practicality). Beyond that, you can let your heart and budget call the shots.   

Speaking of budget, it’s a mistake to think that nixing a diamond center stone automatically saves you money. In fact, some non-diamond engagement rings can be quite expensive indeed, and it’s not uncommon for a high-quality colored stone to far exceed the price of a diamond of comparable quality. The most exceptional colored gems are graded by gemological laboratories according to the distribution and intensity of color in the stone, in addition to its size and cut. Exceptional examples of colored gems—especially those that have not been heat-treated or otherwise enhanced—are rare and highly prized and have price tags to match. 

Below, a guide to the best stones for non-diamond engagement rings.



Sapphire ring shown from 3 different angles

A popular alternative to non-diamond engagement rings is the striking sapphire ring—and not just the blue variety that Kate Middleton, now Princess of Wales, revitalized as an engagement ring trend when Prince William proposed with his late mother Princess Diana’s oval sapphire ring. 
Referred to as “fancy sapphires,” the gem is also available in every color of the rainbow. Sapphire scores a 9 on the Mohs scale, making it a great choice for a non-diamond engagement ring. The official birthstone for September, the stone enjoys a long, rich history: Ancient Persians believed the earth sat on an enormous sapphire, making the sky blue, while the ancient Greeks and Romans claimed these gems protected people from harm and envy. Today, many revere sapphire as a symbol of fidelity, honesty, and nobility.

The most valuable blue sapphires range from a vivid cornflower blue to a deeper velvety blue hue. Sources of sapphire include Kashmir, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka but Madagascar currently leads the world in production. Here in the U.S., Montana is a major player. Montana sapphires have gained popularity among couples who are seeking a non-diamond engagement ring featuring an ethically sourced stone with a transparent supply chain. 



Picture of a ruby engagement ring and wedding band

Known as the “king of precious stones,” the red ruby rates a 9 on the Mohs scale and can be found in shades ranging from dark pink to raspberry to a deep purplish red. Since red is the color of love, ruby represents passion, making it an ideal non-diamond engagement ring selection for two people who are madly, deeply in love. Ancient cultures linked ruby to the sun and today it’s the traditional birthstone for those born in July. It’s also said to bring vitality and a sense of empowerment to anyone who wears it. The central mining sources for rubies are Myanmar, Burma, Australia, and Mozambique. The finest rubies come from Myanmar or Burma and display a highly coveted bright -red hue sometimes referred to as “pigeon’s blood.” 



Emerald engagement ring on a green satin background

The traditional birthstone for May, bright green emerald has become an “it” stone in fine fashion jewelry, as the color has dominated fashion runways and red carpets for several seasons. Emeralds are also a favorite among celebrities for awards shows and Jackie Kennedy had a non-diamond engagement ring set with an emerald, a testament to her enduring elegance and style.  

As the sacred stone of the Greek goddess, Aphrodite, emeralds have served as a symbol of love, fertility, and new beginnings for centuries. Today, emeralds are mined mainly in Columbia and Zambia, the former is considered the best you can get. 

Emeralds have a Mohs scale rating of 7.5 to 8 yet many jewelers caution against them for non-diamond engagement rings as emeralds contain surface-reaching fractures that make them vulnerable to chipping and breakage. Furthermore, most emeralds lack the clarity of other gemstones, with their wispy-looking, visible inclusions known as jardin. As such, the presence of clarity-enhancing fillers is commonplace and acceptable but should be noted by the jeweler or vendor and disclosed on any accompanying paperwork. It’s best if the fillers are natural (oil, wax, Canada balsam or cedarwood oil) versus synthetic resins which can cause discoloration. Remove your emerald ring prior to working out, gardening, or other manual labor. Make sure you store your emerald engagement ring separately from other jewelry and avoid exposure to harsh chemicals.



Five aquamarine engagement rings leaning against each other

Derived from the Latin words aqua (water) and marina (sea), the aquamarine stone invokes the serenity of the ocean and displays shades that range from a pale, watery blue to a vibrant blue-green reminiscent of the Caribbean Sea. All of the shades, and especially the soft pastel blue hues, feel just right for a wedding day (and take care of the bride’s “something blue” before she even walks down the aisle). With a score of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, aquamarine is sturdy but it’s best to store it separately from other jewelry pieces to prevent possible scratching. Mined in Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, this non-diamond engagement ring option is one of the birthstones for March and symbolizes new beginnings, happiness, fidelity, and harmony.  



Morganite engagement ring with pink flower petals

This non-diamond engagement ring stone is pretty in pink! Although the gemstone has been used in jewelry for more than 100 years, it has gained significant popularity as a non-diamond engagement ring choice in the past decade. Named after the financier and gem collector, J.P Morgan, morganite is widely available in peachy, blush-pink shades. Like emeralds and aquamarines, morganites rate 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. The finest morganites are sourced in Brazil but also mined across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Generally, morganites appeal to feminine sensibilities and function as a less expensive alternative to a pink diamond or a high-quality pink sapphire. Symbolizing sweetness, love and romance, there’s also a built-in bonus to consider: morganites complement all skin tones beautifully.

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