At the beginning of 2017, The Financial Times reported that young adults aren’t buying diamonds anymore.
Some are shunning tradition because of ethical and environmental concerns, some are priced out of the market, others are staying away from the marriage thing altogether.
Those who would have splurged on diamonds previously are now being tempted by a glut of alternative engagement rings, and it’s easy to see why. On-trend gemstones can be more eye-catching, feel more personal and cost a lot less than diamonds.
Interested? Here’s a selection of the most gorgeous gemstone rings I could find, along with some shopping tips.
How to Pick an Engagement Ring Gemstone
Aesthetics aside, there are some practical concerns when you’re thinking of ditching diamonds for gemstones.
The durability of your gem is key. Jewellers rank stones on the Mohs scale, from 1 to 10. The lower the number, the more prone the gem is to chipping or cracking. Diamonds are a 10, as hard as nails, but some popular gemstones much lower.
Most jewellers I’ve encountered recommend going no lower than about 7 unless you’re going to be very careful, or you don’t mind if your ring shows signs of wear and tear.
Also, you’ll want to make sure the setting of your ring is suitable for your gem. Some softer stones will need protection from their settings, while more hefty ones might need additional prongs to help them stay in place. Any good jeweller will be able to chat with you about this, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Moissanite Engagement Ring
Moissanites are sometimes called space diamonds, because they were originally discovered in a meteorite and they closely resemble actual diamonds. Also because space diamonds sounds cool AF.
However, diamonds and moissanites are totally separate stones.
The big difference is brilliance. While diamonds sparkle in an icy grey scale, moissanites flash a whole range of colours. I’ve seen diamond specialists describe the twinkle of a moissanite as gaudy, but I have watched a half a dozen lectured on marketing, so I know a smear campaign when I see it. Long live the sparkle!
They are also less expensive than diamonds, especially when you compare higher carat weights. Their Mohs rating is 9.5, which is super hardy.
Pictured: Forever One Round Moissanite Ring, Charles and Colvard, €1200.
Morganite Engagement Ring
Morganite is having a minute, and I blame millennials. It’s a peachy-pink gemstone, usually fairly light in tone, and it’s way more affordable than diamonds. Cue vocal fry – Blush pink and inexpensive? Slide it on my finger, pass the guac and let me Snapchat it!
While there’s no doubt that the trend is being let by Instagram queens, it’s also true that morganite is a) stunning in its own right and b) a pretty smart choice. Carat for carat, you get more bang for your buck than you would with a diamond. You can get a proper hunk of rock with a relatively small investment.
Plus, Morganite is one of the more neutral gemstones. It’s got character, but it won’t clash with dress rings.
At 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it’s just dropping into the danger zone for chipping and cracks, but it should handle ordinary wear. Avoid chemicals (they can permanently cloud the stone) and consider a setting that’s more protective.
Pictured: Bea Arrow Ring in Pink Morganite with Champagne Diamonds, Anna Sheffield, €1650.
Rubies have been a popular alternative to diamond engagement rings for decades. They’re a 9 on the Mohs scale, perfect for daily wear, and they carry almost as much romantic symbolism as diamonds.
They can be pricey, but there’s always the option to buy lab-grown ruby instead of a natural one. They’re identical, but you’ll cut your costs.
Pictured: Ruby Engagement Ring with Pave Diamond Crown, Artemer, €1525.
Opal Engagement Ring
Poor old opal. It’s a delicate stone. At 2.5 on the Mohs scale, I’ve seen it listed as one of the possible worst choices for an engagement ring.
If you’re rooting for the underdog, you can look for settings that will partially encase the opal. That will absorb some of the shocks from knocks and bumps, and also act as a buffer for scratches.
To really minimise risks, opt for a sturdier centre stone and opals as accents.
Pictured: Entity Opal Ring, ManiaMania via Catbird, €1525.
Citrine Engagement Ring
Citrine is a great choice if you want a warm stone but don’t want to splurge on yellow, cognac or chocolate diamonds. It can vary in tone from bright yellow to deep orange, and it’s just hard enough for daily wear.
If you’re into the meanings and powers attached to gemstones, it’s interesting to note that citrine is supposed to bring optimisim and wealth into your life – both extremely handy if you’re planning a wedding.
Pictured: Rose Gold and Citrine Engagement Ring, Diamond Boutique, €1205.
Signet Engagement Ring
You might spend your first years as a married woman explaining that this is your engagement ring, but boy, would it be worth it. Signet rings have been an option for men for ages, but the style is gaining traction with trendy brides.
The absence of a gem cuts a tonne of cash from the cost, and most makers offer custom engraving services too.
Pictured: The Mrs. Signet Ring, Nora Kogan, €558.