gemstones colored guide

Alternatives to Diamonds

As I publish more articles, I will start to cover the various aspects of engagement rings in detail. Feel free to sign up so that I can notify you as these posts are published.

Alternatives to Diamonds

Although diamonds are still the primary choice for engagement rings, a growing number of women are choosing alternatives to diamonds. Some opt for coloured gemstones to create eye-catching and unique engagement rings. Some opt for lab grown diamonds but the technology is still in its infancy stage and there are limitations to how big a rough can be grown.

Others choose simulated diamonds such as synthetic cubic zirconias or moissanites, which, to the untrained eye, look very similar to genuine diamonds. Here are a few reasons for considering an alternative to a diamond engagement ring:


Perhaps you would like to choose a gemstone that has a special meaning to you. A popular option is to choose a birthstone engagement ring, with the gemstone related to your birth month taking centre stage. You can also choose the gemstone that represents the month in which you met each other. Or maybe you just love the colour of a particular gemstone!

Aquamarine – Mohs Hardness: 7.5 – 8

Aquamarine rings are a dreamy and serene greenish blue, usually light in tone. The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin words aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone is a member of the beryl family (as are emeralds). Once believed to protect sailors on long voyages, aquamarine has nowadays become the most popular of semi-precious stones used in fine jewelry. Aquamarine has a wonderful shine, is very durable and tends to be free from inclusions. Overall, aquamarine engagement rings are a great choice.

Amethyst -Mohs Hardness: 7

Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that, if cut well, will create a lot of sparkle. Amethyst occurs naturally in many places around the world but, historically, the finest amethysts were found in Russia. Amethysts featured highly in royal European jewelry in past centuries. Amethyst rings can vary in tone from a seductive light pinkish violet to a deep purple. Amethyst is not as hard as many other gemstones but, with some care, an amethyst engagement ring should stand up to everyday wear.

Tanzanite – Mohs Hardness: 6.5 – 7

Tanzanite rings range from a stunning sapphire-like blue to a rich violet-blue colour. Interestingly, this colour is achieved through heating the naturally dull brown gemstone. Tanzanite was discovered only in the late 1960s and is found exclusively in Tanzania. As tanzanite is generally less expensive than sapphire, it is often purchased as a sapphire alternative; however, people are starting to value tanzanite for its own beauty and colour. Tanzanite engagement rings require extra care as this stone is somewhat fragile.

Topaz – Mohs Hardness: 8

Topaz rings come in a rich rainbow of colours: white, blue, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, gray and even multicoloured, known as mystic. The most valuable colour of topaz is the golden orange-yellow colour, known as Imperial Topaz. However, blue topaz rings and other jewelry items are the most commonly seen. A blue topaz engagement ring can be an inexpensive alternative to a pricier aquamarine ring, while giving you the same choice of blues. Topaz has a high Mohs hardness but should be protected from hard impacts.

alternative gemstones

Morganite – Mohs Hardness: 7.5 – 8

Another of my personal favourites, morganite is a pale pink variety of beryl (similar to emerald and aquamarine). Morganite rings are a subtle pink to purplish pink and can look particularly lovely in rose pink gold. Morganite was only discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century and remains a relatively rare gem. As morganite has not taken off in popularity, it remains a relatively inexpensive gemstone, despite its rarity. If this colour appeals to you, a morganite ring is a great choice. This feminine looking gemstone is very hard and will easily withstand everyday wear.

Peridot – Mohs Hardness: 6.5 – 7

Peridot is an ancient gemstone with jewelry pieces dating all the way back to the Egyptian Pharaohs. Peridot rings are an attractive and unique yellow green colour, which I personally love. The intensity of the colour depends on the amount of iron present in the peridot and deeper olive-green tones are generally considered more desirable than the lighter colours. Depending on your lifestyle, a peridot ring may not be a good choice as an engagement ring as this gemstone does not tend to wear well and would require some extra care.

Garnet –¬†Mohs Hardness: 7 – 7.5

Interestingly, garnet is not a single mineral, but describes a group of several closely related minerals. Garnets come in a wide range of colours, but by far the most widely-known variety of this gemstone is the deep ruby-like red variety. This colour tends to simply be called garnet, while other coloured varieties are often given other names. An example you may come across is tsavorite, which comes in an emerald-like green. A garnet ring is a good choice as it will be reasonably hard wearing. Red garnets look particularly good in a vintage-style setting.

Other Considerations

If this is your first visit to the Budget Dream Wedding website, you may wish to read check out the rest of the website too. If you are in the market specifically for a diamond ring, this diamond ring shopping guide is worth your time to check out. Taken together, these posts here will cover all of the areas that you should be considering as you plan your wedding and choose your perfect engagement ring.