The most popular centre stone for engagement rings is of course, a diamond. This has been so for a long time, and the diamond has certainly staked its claim as the perennial favourite stone of choice – with the type of diamond most often chosen being the solitaire, in brilliant round cut. It is likely this will remain the case for the foreseeable future, and why not? It’s hard to beat a spectacular, sparkling, high quality colourless diamond as the dazzling highlight on a super special item of jewellery, which symbolises a major event in people’s lives. However, there are many fantastic alternatives as well, which are definitely worth checking out, especially if you and your partner are leaning towards an engagement ring (or rings) which will stand out from the crowd. So, what are the best non-diamond engagement rings?
Colourless is the more correct term for diamonds which are sometimes referred to as white. A magnificent colourless diamond centre stone is indeed a marvel to behold. But there are many who find coloured stones more interesting, with their rich, vivid hues and their individuality. Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder; it’s a very subjective matter. In fact, we are really talking about our favourite coloured stones here. The best stone is the one you fall in love with and which aligns best with your set of criteria when selecting an engagement ring.
Coloured gemstones make beautiful centre stones for engagement rings. Rubies, sapphires and emeralds in particular. Many jewellers report increased interest in these stones in recent years. Brides have been looking for that ring with a difference; a rock with a burst of intense colour – a unique expression of singular personality and a vibrant emblem of passion and devotion. Non-diamond engagement rings have been particularly popular with celebrities recently, which adds to the fascination with them.
Sapphires are by far the most sought-after coloured gemstone. Not everyone is aware that sapphires do come in various colours, such as pink, white, yellow, teal and pink. However, the colour which most associate with sapphires is that deep, exhilarating royal blue. That’s the classic colour sapphires are famous for. They were once the go-to stone for engagement rings, prior to the turn of the 20th century. Like diamonds, they are extremely robust, at 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. So they are a durable choice of stone for an item of jewellery which does cop a fair amount of wear and tear. Sapphires are typically more affordable than colourless diamonds of the same size. Every sapphire is custom cut so that it exhibits optimal depth of colour and brilliant light.
Rubies have been revered since ancient times. A ruby speaks of passion, love, romance - so it definitely makes a felicitous alternative to a diamond – for a gorgeous and meaningful engagement ring. The crimson colour has meant these gems have long been associated with all things regal, just like their close cousins, sapphires. Both come from the family known as ‘corundum’. Rubies are also 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, meaning they will stand the tests of time with fortitude. They are priced similarly to diamonds. The best rubies have a very profound palette of red, which seems to emanate from deep within the shimmering stone.
Emeralds have long been prized as eye-catching engagement ring centre stones. The best ones are quite rare and unique stones, which display a gorgeous, mysterious, dramatic green colour. This voracious verdant tone is caused by the elements of chromium, iron and vanadium. According to legend, emeralds convey the power to foresee the future and divine the truth. Emeralds have traditionally been associated with protection from harm. In general, emeralds are priced in a similar range to colourless diamonds.
These pretty semi-precious stones have an interesting history. They were very popular in the Georgian era (the 1700’s), referred to then as the ‘Sailor’s Stone’, as ancient mariners had believed that aquamarines were a good luck talisman. The name actually means literally ‘water of the sea’. These pale beauties are closely related to emeralds, hailing from the same clan of geological head turners, called the beryl family. Aquamarines are sourced in Africa, Asia, Brazil and the United States. They are the March birthstone. Aquamarines are a lot less costly than diamonds. They’re a softer, more soulful looking non-diamond alternative.
The amethyst has long been venerated as a prestigious gemstone. It is a fabulous alternative to a diamond, for an extremely exceptional engagement ring. Amethyst jewellery from as far back as 2000BC has been unearthed by archaeologists, and the stone is in fact mentioned a number of times in the Bible. The opulent purple colour was favoured by the Romans and the name comes from a myth, about a girl called Amethyst, who, as she flees from the drunken advances of Dionysus, God of wine, is transformed into white quartz by the goddess Diana. Full of remorse, Dionysus embraces the pale stone and his wine spills over it, turning it purple. Classical Greek and Roman peoples thought that amethysts guarded against misadventure from intoxication. The stone also enjoys a connection with concepts of wealth. Amethysts represent excellent value for money.
Morganites are a relatively recently discovered coloured stone. They were first unearthed in Madagascar exactly 100 years ago, in 1922. They are a pink coloured stone, initially known as ‘rose beryl’ (the gem family mentioned above). The name of the stone was changed not long after by the eminent gemmologist George Frederick Kunz, to ‘Morganite’. This was done in homage to his patron, the famous American Businessman J.P.Morgan, who was the most conspicuous collector of gems in the world. Morgan bequeathed many items to the American Museum of Natural History, so it seems fair enough that a gorgeous coloured stone should be named in his honour. Morganites come in beautiful tones from pink to peach and blush. They have a wonderful clarity about them and look absolutely amazing in a rose gold setting.