Diamond Engagement Ring Alternatives: What Are Your Options

Ever since my boyfriend and I have discussed getting married one day, I’ve been dreaming of engagement rings. But I can’t justify the cost of walking around with several thousands of dollars in diamonds on my hand. It’s just not me - I’m a simple kind of girl that hardly wears jewelry. I only began wearing small diamond stud earrings this year after not wearing earrings for over 15 years.

I’ve been entertaining diamond engagement ring alternatives not only because of the cost, but because I want something that is completely unique to me that reminds me of our relationship. And it’s not only me, according to this article by CNN, more brides are choosing non-traditional diamond rings over the standard white diamond counterparts.

Cushion Cut White Topaz Engagement Ring AlternativeWhite Topaz Solitaire Ring by onegarnetgirl on Etsy

I’ve been seriously drooling over the ring above for over a year now.  It’s simple, unique, dainty and I love the setting.  But I’m not sold on Topaz.  And while I think I want something slightly bigger, I don’t want the big cost associated with a big diamond.  I can’t justify it - nor can I justify the outlandish cost of a huge wedding, but that’s another post.

Historically speaking, diamonds haven’t been the standard for engagement rings.  Over the hundreds of years of history we’ve seen simple bands of gold, thimbles, poesy rings and colored gemstones such as sapphires, rubies or emerald used as engagement rings.  The traditional diamond engagement ring isn’t so traditional - it was only made popular around WWII when DeBeers pushed a major marketing campaign with the now famous phrase “A Diamond Is Forever”.  But it wasn’t always considered such.  Before this campaign, only 10% of engagement rings were diamonds.

So, I began doing research on engagement ring alternatives - what can possibly match the brilliance of a diamond without being a diamond?

Moissanite Engagement Rings

Moissanite and Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

Moissanite and Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

 Originating as a meteorite that fell to earth, natural moissanite is now incredibly rare. Mossanite now is a laboratory-created mineral composed of the substance silicon carbide. It is engineered to give the illusion of similarity to diamonds, but is compositionally and visually quite different from a real diamond.  As far as hardness, it ranks 9.2-9.25 on the Mohs scale.  Making it just under a diamond (which is a 10) and just higher than a sapphire (9), ruby(9)  or emerald (7.5-8).

Moissanite’s is more brilliant than a diamond because  it refracts twice as much light, therefore sparkling and glistening twice as much especially in sunlight and as stones increase in size.  However, some may think this is a fault because it is SO sparkly.  Additionally, even the “colorless” moissanite has some color to it, it just can’t compare to a colorless diamond.  Be sure to view the moissanite ring outdoors or in natural light to see it’s true color.
Pros: it is nearly as hard as a diamond and twice as brilliant, eco-friendly, 1 carat can cost $399-700 vs several thousand for a genuine diamond
Cons: can range in color to the H-K diamond scale (near colorless to noticeable color).  When I spoke to a diamond educator recently, he told me that if you’re going to go for a colored diamond (such as K in color) get a yellow or rose gold band which will offset and enhance the diamond color.  The same would hold true for a moissanite ring.
2 Ct. Moissanite Engagement Ring Diamond Side Stones 14k Gold - Ring Name: Sunrise.

2 Ct. Moissanite Engagement Ring Diamond Side Stones 14k Gold - Ring Name: Sunrise by SerenadeDiamonds via Etsy

Sapphire Engagement Rings

Princess Diana and Kate Middleton don sapphire engagement rings - and probably made them popular since the 80’s for engagement rings - although sapphire engagement rings have been around much longer.  Sapphire is a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale - making it almost as hard as a diamond and is a traditionally acceptable engagement ring alternative.   Plus it comes in a rainbow of colors - white, ice blue, deep blue, champagne, pink, yellow, even grey and black.
Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring with Blue Sapphire
Kate Middleton’s Sapphire Engagement Ring (Replica)
If you like the look of royalty, but don’t want to set yourself back a half a million, you can start out with this replica of Kate Middleton’s ring.  It will only set you back $22.99 and with over 55, five star reviews this will give you a good feel if a sapphire engagement ring is for you.
White Gold, Pink Sapphire and Diamond Engagement RingWhite Gold, Pink Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring
While a blue sapphire may be my birthstone, pink is my favorite color.  I can see myself wearing a pink sapphire engagement ring - but this may be just a bit too pink for me.  But I love the side diamond leaf accents and the traditional setting of this ring.
rose gold, champagne peach sapphire engagement ring
Rose Gold with Champagne Peach Engagement Ring by Studio1040 on Etsy
My newfound love is champagne peach sapphires set in rose gold.  It is lovely, vintage and oh-so pretty. I think this tops the list next to a moissanite ring for me.
Emerald Cut White Sapphire Engagement Ring
Emerald Cut White Sapphire Engagement Ring by KristinCoffin via Etsy
I can’t help but notice this white sapphire engagement ring - it combines two of my favorite things - sapphires and an emerald cut.  The band is unique too, I love the natural twig design.

Ruby Engagement Rings

Art Deco Vintage Ruby Engagement Ring

Vintage Art Deco Inspired Ruby Engagement Ring and Wedding Band Set

Rubies are red - the color of love and romance.  Rubies fall on the Mohs scale of 9 as well, making them just under diamonds and moissanite and on par with Sapphires.   I love the uniqueness of a ruby ring, the pure bright red can’t be mistaken for anything else.  The antique style ring above reminds me of my grandmother’s engagement ring.

Ruby Victorian Engagement Ring w/ Diamond Accents in 14K White Gold

Victorian Ruby and Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold

A bold and fiery ruby takes the center stage, carefully bezel set in 14k white gold. The intricately carved Victorian motifs studded with diamond accents further heighten the allure. A polished band that tapered towards the center finally holds the low and secured mounting, completing the vintage inspired ruby engagement ring

Emerald Engagement Rings

1.50 Carat Emerald and Diamond Engagement Ring in White Gold

1.50 Carat Emerald and Diamond Engagement Ring 14k White Gold

Emeralds are much softer on the Mohs scale ranging from 7.5 to 8, making them not as durable as diamonds, sapphires or rubies. But Emeralds have a certain allure to them, the rich green promises good luck and enhances the well being.  It is my favorite cut, and in my opinion the only cut to have if you’re buying an Emerald Ring.  At under $500, this engagement ring won’t break your budget either.

14kt Gold Lab Emerald and Diamond Heart Claddagh Trinity Knot Ring

14kt Gold Lab Emerald and Diamond Heart Claddagh Trinity Knot Ring

I love the meaning behind the trinity knot, which is traditional in Ireland for a man to give to a woman signifying his affection toward her.  The trinity knot represents the = three promises of a relationship: to love, honor, and protect.  I love how this ring combines the trinity knot design with the symbolism of the claddagh ring which means love, loyalty and friendship.  Combined with the emerald heart, it is a beautiful symbolic engagement and wedding ring.  Just be sure to wear it the correct way: if you’re engaged it is worn on the left ring finger with the heart facing out.  It is reversed with the heart facing in, once you’ve tied the knot.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my alternative engagement rings.  I know I’ll still be shopping for the “perfect” ring that will suit us.  What will you choose?




Founder of Inked Weddings and an 11 year veteran of the wedding industry, Erica has seen it all - and has a growing collection of her own personal Ink. She lives in between New York City and New Jersey with her beau, geek-in-training tween son, a newborn rock star to be, a rescue dog and two finicky Russian blue cats. Loves coffee, high heels, Helsinki and has a penchant for bad boys who are secretly superheros. Connect With Erica on Google+

Comments & Responses

One Response so far.

  1. Jodi S says:

    I don’t know if my daughters could be convinced to go this alternative route. The other rings in the blog are very beautiful and I think it’s classy, but who will step out of the box first? My girls?? I’ve seen stars and the very elite wear engagement rings from ruby’s and emeralds of sublime quality.

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