The Jewelry Insider

July 10, 2010

Non-Traditional Engagement Ring Gems

Alternative Engagement Rings

If you’re looking for an engagement ring that’s not quite the ‘norm’, there are some great ring finger alternatives to choose from.

Color — Although colored gemstone engagement rings are somewhat unusual in the United States, they are a traditional choice for the royal families of Europe. Princess Diana, Camilla Parker-Bowles and Sarah Ferguson all received colored gemstone engagement rings, for example. Sapphire is the most popular choice for a colored gemstone engagement ring, followed by ruby, emerald, tanzanite, and garnet. The main advantage of a colored gemstone engagement ring: each stone has a specific meaning, history and lore behind it, and a bride-to-be can truly express her unique personality and style by wearing it. If this sounds a bit too daring for you, consider a colored diamond. Diamonds come in many shades other than white. Indeed, the finest “fancy” colored diamonds are often more rare, expensive and sought after than their white counterparts. Some of the more common colored diamonds for engagement rings are yellow, pink, blue and green.

Birthstone Rings — The bride’s birthstone is another great alternative for an engagement ring. The most popular choice for birthstone rings is to feature her birthstone as the center stone, but flank the gem with smaller diamonds either side. Birthstone engagement rings can potentially be far less costly than diamond rings as most birthstones are less expensive than a diamond of the similar weight and quality.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) — CZ is perhaps the oldest and most established diamond simulant (man-made substitutes) on the market today. Available at only a fraction of the cost of a comparable diamond, this unique stone has become a fashion staple in its own right. CZ’s physical properties are so close to that of a diamond, that most people couldn’t tell the difference between the two by the naked eye alone. CZ has slightly less brilliance (sparkle) than a diamond, but it has more fire (rainbow of color). With a rating of 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, CZ is almost as durable as a diamond (the hardest known substance on earth, with a rating of 10). CZ is actually heavier than a diamond, giving it more heft. And since CZ is perfected in a lab, these stones have clarity and cut comparable to the finest diamonds.

Moissanite — This unique near-colorless compound was first discovered in a meteorite 100 years ago. With natural quantities too minute for use in jewelry, today’s moissanite is produced in a lab. Moissanite has many qualities that compare favorably to diamonds: it has measurably more fire, brilliance and luster; with a ranking over 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, it is second only to a diamond; its heat resistance is greater; and it is considerably cheaper. It is gaining a following with the celebrity crowd; high-profile endorsers include actresses Brooke Shields and Vivica A. Fox; supermodel Niki Taylor; and sports stars Mia Hamm, Bonnie Blair and Jackie Joyner Kersee.

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