Alternative Engagement Rings and Choosing your Stone
I love how now, more than ever people seem to be driven to have engagement rings that are full of meaning and are unique and special. One way to step outside of the traditional box a bit is with a different stone choice. It could be a unique cut or colour of diamond, or maybe a different stone entirely. There are lots of great options! On the flip side though, while many stones are beautiful some are not wonderful engagement ring choices if you are hoping to wear the ring daily for many years. I’ll go over some options here, and some popular choices that I don’t recommend for longevity.
Let’s start with the top go-to : diamonds! First of all there is a reason they are so popular and it’s not all about wearing something ridiculously expensive as a status symbol... I will be the first to admit that that’s silliness! They are really, really strong and hard. There is a solid chance that the diamond you buy as an engagement ring can be worn daily for a life time and then passed along as an heirloom to be worn for another lifetime, or two! You’ll want to take care of it, and have the settings checked every so often, but as far as low maintenance goes, diamonds are where it’s at. They also are capable of being cut to catch light and sparkle like crazy. The more I work with them, the more I love them. I love that the earth created them, so no two are exactly alike. From white, to a world of pretty off-whites ( the super pale off-white warm yellow tones are my favourite right now), salt and pepper, blacks, greys, and the fancy colours. I do my absolute best to only bring you the most ethical stones I can, buying from reputable, responsible sources I trust and that buy from mines that treat their workers fairly. Mining in general doesn’t sit really well with me in terms of being environmentally thoughtful, but that’s why I like making pieces that are heirloom quality, and not disposable fast fashion.
(salt &pepper diamond) (diamonds) (diamond)
As far as alternative stones my favourite is currundum, which is the word for the sapphire and ruby family. It is a super strong mineral (second only to diamond) and is scratch resistant. The best part is they come naturally in pretty much every colour including clear. Good quality ones can be cut to be super sparkly, while more rustic ones can have a more down-to earth vibe depending on your taste. Again, a great choice for daily wear and can last a lifetime and beyond.
(blue sapphire) (pale yellow sapphire) (raw sapphire)
Moissanite is another strong one. Right next to diamond in strength (9.5, while diamond is 10 on the Mohs hardens scale). They are compressed silicone instead of diamond’s carbon, but look much the same to the naked eye. Only man-made moissanite is readily available for purchase. It is a great option if you like the looks of a classic white, sparkly diamond, but prefer the environmental ethics of a man-made stone. They are also much more financially approachable if you are hoping for a large stone.
Now I’m getting into stones I don’t want to necessarily recommend as heirloom quality, wear every single day of your life engagement rings, but are okay choices if you are thoughtful to take extra care. Remembering that many substances your hands might come into contact with are stronger than these stones, so there is potential for scratching the surfaces or cracking. Most are somewhat approachable in pricing, so you could replace the stone if needed down the road.
Morganite in the Beryl family is a pretty pink or peach colour that is 8 out of 10 on the Mohs strength scale. I still think a peach sapphire would be a wiser choice for daily wear and tear, but you are likely to get a larger stone for less if you go for Morganite.... and ya, again it’s super pretty.
Aquamarine another Beryl and is a sister mineral to Morganite, but in the almost clear to watery pale blue-green.
Topaz is another is stone with lots of visual flexibility. And can be found naturally in blues, whites and yellows or can be heat treated for brighter colour options. Again, is 8 on the Mohs scale. They tend to be very affordable, which is always nice!
Tsavorite garnet- it is only 7.5 out of 10 in strength, but it can be found it a stunning bright green colour. Green sapphire is the most lasting choice for green stones, but you would be hard pressed to find one in the bright emerald ish green, so tsavorite would be your best choice if green vibrancy is a priority
Quartz- there are lots of pretty options in this crystal family. They are actually 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, which isn’t the best but also not the worst. They do tend to be affordable, so when you have to have the stone replaced it wouldn’t be financially terrible. They are prone to crack and get surface scratches though. There are lots of energy properties in different quartz’s that resonate with many people, so if that’s your priority along with low cost you may want to consider a quartz.
Here are some stones that I do not recommend in rings that are intended for daily wear if you are hoping they will last a lifetime. I understand the idea of embracing impermanence and allowing your ring to evolve with your life -quite probably needing to replace the stone in the future. Hand’s tend to be one of the more active parts of our body, so choosing a fragile stone would be embracing impermanence, and as long as no hearts will be broken and choosing a new stone for your setting every so often is part of your ring’s adventure- cool! Go for it. Best to choose a standard size and shape for the stone, so it will be cost effective when it comes to replacing.
Opal- so popular right now and so pretty, but oh so fragile. If you choose one please take extra care to take off when doing anything rough with your hands and don’t expose to anything acidic or with chemicals.
Emerald- it’s in the Beryl family like Morganite and Aquamarine, but actually isn’t as durable and tends to be more expensive. Even though it is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale it just doesn’t hold up well to bonks or blows, so if you wear an emerald on your hand please expect to replace it. Most emeralds are quite included (little fractures on the inside), and even if you can’t see them with your naked eye they make your emerald more prone to cracking and shattering. The price of emeralds means that it would be a bit of a financial blow when it’s time to replace the stone.
Pearls- 2 out of 10 on the Mohs strength scale. They shouldn’t even be worn while washing your hands. If you choose one for a ring... not intended for daily wear, please!
I know there is a world of stones I didn’t even touch on, so feel free to get in touch if you have specific questions. Basically, anything worn on your hand daily could be subjected to bonks and blows, even sapphires and diamonds can occasionally get scratched or chipped if hit the wrong way... More fragile stones will almost certainly get scratched or chipped or downright shatter if hit in any way. It’s all about weighing out the options and choosing what’s right for you.
Top choices - Diamond, Moissanite & Sapphire
Proceed with caution - Quartz, Morganite, Aquamarine & Topaz
Best to avoid for daily wear - Pearls, Opals & Emeralds