Non-Traditional Engagement Gems

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they’re not the only option for engagement rings. For those who like to go off the beaten path, there are many other gemstone options from which to choose.

Keep in mind: Selecting a stone isn’t just about color and sparkle! Since you’re likely planning on wearing your ring most of the time, you want to ensure that your stone is durable. Diamonds, for example, are 10 (the highest) on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which ranks minerals based on their respective resistance to scratching.

Here, we look at some stones that make for beautiful – and durable – engagement rings.


When you think of sapphire, you may think of a rich, beautiful blue; but sapphires actually come in every color of the rainbow (except red). Sapphires create a phenomenon called pleochroism, where different colors are observed when viewed at different angles, especially in polarized light. Sapphires are the hardest natural non-diamond gem, rated 9 on the Mohs scale.


Like sapphires, rubies are hard non-diamond stones ranked 9 on the Mohs scale. They come in a range of hues, from deep pink to beautiful red and are easily paired with white or yellow metal bands. Rubies, however, are not inexpensive. In fact, they are often priced higher per carat than their colored stone counterparts.


Topaz comes in a wide range of colors, including green, yellow, blue, orange, red, purple, and pink. There is also a colorless topaz, also known as white topaz. While topaz isn’t as hard as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, it is still a hard stone (8 on the Mohs scale), perfect for everyday wear.


A classic green stone, emeralds are lovely alternatives to diamonds – but they can be more expensive (emeralds are more than 20 times rarer than diamonds). Also, most natural emeralds have inclusions, fractures, or fissures, which are little imperfections. These blemishes don’t make the stone any less elegant; they add character. If the fissures bother you, emeralds can be cut strategically, ensuring they are not visible on the surface or corners of the stone. Emerald ranges between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale.


A budget-friendly stone that is a lovely choice for an engagement ring is amethyst, a deep violet to light pink stone that has a vintage feel when paired with the right setting. At 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst is not as hard as the stones listed above.


The most unconventional choice on our list, but equally beautiful, is onyx. Unique and edgy, this black stone is not for someone who wants a shiny, brilliant ring, but it is a one-of-a-kind gemstone that will wow. Onyx is the softest stone on our list (6.5 on the Mohs scale) and may not be something you want to wear daily.

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