If you are reading this article, you may be one of the many people interested in something other than a colorless diamond for their engagement ring. As the demand has grown for custom engagement rings (Everyone wants something unique!), so too has the demand for alternative center stones. Though colorless diamonds may be the traditional symbol of marriage, precious gems and fancy-colored diamonds of all sorts have been used to symbolize everlasting love throughout history.

Kate Middleton

Some of the most famous instances in modern times being Jacqueline Kennedy’s emerald engagement ring, once Princess Diana’s and now the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s stunning 18-carat blue sapphire engagement ring, and starting the celebrity trend of fancy-colored diamonds was J. Lo with her amazing pink diamond ring.

If you are looking to be a trendsetter with your engagement ring—or just want something different!—here are a few alternatives to consider. These gems provide a rainbow of colors to choose from, can be lighter on the wallet, and even have some very special meanings. Additionally, gemstones are available in a wider range of cut styles than diamonds, adding to the ways you can differentiate your unique ring.

J. Lo and her pink diamond engagement ring that started a craze!


FancyColored Diamonds

From champagnes to chocolates and pinks to greens, diamonds come in a wide range of colors. Want a vintage look? Try a soft yellow color that not only gives your ring a vintage feel but comes with a vintage price, too! (Compared to colorless diamonds, anyways!) You can also add a touch of pink to match your skin tone or a pop of blue to match your eyes. With a colored diamond you can get the best of both worlds—the sparkle and durability of a diamond with the unique color of your choice!



A padparadscha sapphire.

Sapphires, while not nearly as hard as diamonds, are next in line on the hardness scale and come in a spectacular array of colors. While blue may automatically come to mind, sapphires do also exist in vibrant pinks, greens in hues from sage to mint, and yellows to rival those of a diamond to name a few. A very popular choice is the padparadscha sapphire, which is the perfect blend of pink and orange. Sapphire is also September’s birthstone and is said to symbolize faithfulness and sincerity as well as bring peace and joy to the wearer. How’s that for one-upping the ole diamond?

Ruby: unique yet classic.



The ruby belongs to the same species of rock as sapphire, called corundum. Therefore, a ruby is just as hard. However, rubies tend to have more flaws than sapphires, which can make them more fragile. If you’re interested in a ruby, just keep in mind that a cleaner gem (so with less flaws) will be less at risk of being damaged. That being said, rubies are a classic choice to use in an engagement ring. Besides, red has always been the color of love and passion!

Tip: Not familiar with rubies? While they are one awesome gem, make sure to read up on them, as they’re often subjected to man-made treatments and color enhancements. Make sure to purchase from a reputable jeweler and know what you are buying.


Jade (Nephrite and Jadeite)

Purple jade in a vintage ring.

Jade is the generic term used to describe both jadeite and nephrite. Though both stones are made up of completely different chemical compositions, they look and feel extremely similar. While jade might not be the most obvious choice for an engagement ring, it is a good one. In fact, its popularity outside of the United States rivals the popularity of diamonds. It has been used in jewelry and carved into religious and artistic figurines, tools, and weapons for centuries in China and South America. It is also said to bring the wearer good health and longevity. Jade is easy on the wallet and is extremely tough—meaning it won’t break easily—which makes it ideal for a ring. Jade is typically known for its green color, ranging from minty green to kelly green, but also comes in lavender, white, gray, black, yellow, and orange.



Rings with a big pop of color: lemon quartz! Nudo collection by Pomellato.

Quartz is readily available all over the world in a multitude of colors, making it a great bang-for-your-buck gem! Think David Yurman or Judith Ripka, who both use many colors of quartz (though they may call it by “fancier” names like prasiolite) such as orange, pink, green, yellow, and purple in their pieces. The cost per carat of quartz is very low, and one can get a very large, very clean quartz for not much money at all. Meaning there may even be some cash left over for a more elaborate ring, if that’s what you have in mind. While quartz isn’t going to win the scratch resistance battle, it is fairly tough and won’t break too easily. But don’t worry, since quartz is easy to come by and so affordable, a replacement stone can be purchased easily if it is ever damaged.


Purple and pink spinel to die for!


Chances are you have never heard of a spinel, but you won’t soon forget it once you lay eyes on one. They have fantastic sparkle and intense color. The red spinel, a personal favorite, could rival a ruby any day, and chances are its has more sparkle, too! If red’s not quite the right color for you, they also come in purple, pink, orange, blue, and more. Spinels are fairly rare but don’t command the price per carat of a ruby or a sapphire, making them a very reasonable, very sparkly alternative.


Cubic Zirconia not only comes in colorless, like a diamond, but lots of other fun colors like pinks, yellows and blues.

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic zirconia may not be for everyone, but it is a very cost effective replacement for a diamond with a nice sparkle. Cubic zirconia is a man-made gem created in a lab. For someone looking for an environmentally and socially conscientious engagement ring, this is perfect. Its downfall is that, like some of the natural gemstones on our list, it can scratch and dull with time. However, being that’s it’s so inexpensive, replacing cubic zirconia if lost or damaged won’t break the bank.



Moissanite is another man-made gem. It’s a serious sparkler, producing even more light return than a diamond and is almost as hard. It is more expensive per carat than a cubic zirconia but still quite a lot less money than a diamond. It’s great choice for someone who likes the look of a diamond but perhaps doesn’t want to spend as much or is concerned about the social or environmental implications of purchasing a natural gemstone.

You can never go wrong with a pearl; dress it up or down, diamonds or none. They’re always stylish and special.



This organic gemstone is hard to rival in terms of history and beauty but is extremely fragile. If a pearl ring is worn everyday it will soon need replacement due to wear. However, finding a replacement is not hard and can be relatively inexpensive—depending on the size and quality of the pearl, of course! Using a pearl’s spherical shape in an engagement ring is the perfect representation of a never-ending cycle of love, life, and a relationship. The pearl is naturally created layer by layer, each adding to its depth and value, much like an enduring relationship.


So whether you’re looking for great color, deep meaning, an earth-conscience gem, or something a little more affordable than a diamond, it’s sure to be out there. The world of gems is boundless, and an engagement ring, no matter what the center stone, is always priceless to the wearer. Plus, being in the company of Jacqueline Kennedy, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, and J. Lo isn’t too bad, either!


Happy shopping!



Jess the Jeweler


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