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6 Meaningful Alternatives to Diamond Engagement Rings


Many people are surprised to learn that diamond engagement rings are a relatively new phenomenon. In fact, in the first half of the 20th century, most engagement rings were not diamond engagement rings.

Today, times have changed. Most engagement rings contain diamonds. However, a growing number of people are proposing with gemstones that aren’t diamonds – but are just as meaningful and beautiful.

Keep reading to discover the best alternatives to diamond engagement rings on the market today

Why Are People Avoiding Diamonds?

Diamonds are still the most popular engagement ring stone by a long shot, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

However, due to the cost of diamond rings – which averages about $5,000 or $6,000 – many young couples have started to look for alternatives. The financial realities for young couples today are much different than the financial realities a few decades ago. Today, young couples may be burdened by debt from student loans, high home prices, and high costs of living. All of these things can make a pricey engagement ring a bad financial decision.

With that in mind, many couples search for alternative gemstones. You can buy synthetic diamonds – like cubic zirconia and moissanite stones – or buy alternative gemstones like sapphires and rubies.

Editor’s Note: Before you buy, find an online jeweler you trust—preferably one that specialized in alternative engagement rings, like James Allen.

6) Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite

Real diamonds are produced in the depths of our planet. Synthetic diamonds like cubic zirconia and moissanite, however, are created in labs.

You can find plenty of people who claim they can’t tell the difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds – so why would you bother buying a real diamond? However, one visit to a diamond appraiser will tell you the difference between the two. A trained eye can spot the difference, but that doesn’t mean cubic zirconia and moissanite are bad options: for a cost-conscious consumer, they can help you save thousands of dollars while still looking like the real thing.

5) Knot Rings

Knot rings and knot weddings have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. The story behind knot rings goes back to ancient times, when couples would seal their eternal love with a knot tied in the infinity symbol. The knot, like the couple’s love for one another, has no end.

Today, knot rings are more than just a piece of string or rope tied in a fancy way. Jewelry makers now offer knot rings in gold or silver varieties. You wear the rings on your finger just like an ordinary ring, but instead of a gemstone at the top, there’s an infinity symbol to recognize your eternal love for one another.

4) Claddagh

Knot rings are particularly popular in the UK and Ireland, where many people feel a connection to their Gaelic heritage. In a similar fashion, the Claddagh is an Irish ring commonly found throughout history.

Historically speaking, the Claddagh symbolized eternal friendship, love, and loyalty rolled into one. The four parts of the ring include two hands, a heart, and a crown, each of which represents one of those traits.

While engaged, the woman traditionally wears the ring with the point of the heart facing outwards. After the marriage ceremony, the woman turns the ring so the end is facing inward, towards her.

The Claddagh is particularly popular among people with Irish heritage. You can celebrate your heritage and create a symbol of your eternal love in the process.

3) Family Rings

Don’t feel like spending $6,000 on a diamond engagement ring, but still want to propose with a diamond engagement ring? Family rings may be the right choice for you. Family rings are passed down through generations and imbued with history. They often have more meaning than a ring you purchased from a jewelry store down the street. In some cases, it’s the ring of a family member who has passed away, for example.

Family rings experienced a surge in popularity in recent years after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton using his mother – Princess Diana’s – engagement ring, which featured sapphire and diamond.

One of the good things about family rings is that it’s easy to adjust the size or setting to meet the needs of your fiancée. You can also have the stone broken down into pieces to create a new style.

Visit any jewelry store to make some adjustments, or to re-set the ring. Just like that, you’ve added another layer of legend onto your family’s engagement ring.

2) Costume Jewelry

Looking for the cheapest way to propose to someone? Costume jewelry is cheap and easy. Technically, you can buy costume jewelry from any dollar store or Walmart. However, some people “splurge” by spending $20 to $100 on costume jewelry from online stores on Amazon or Etsy. You get a high-quality, creative, unique ring at a fraction of the price of a traditional engagement ring.

Costume jewelry rings are particularly popular among people who are ready to get engaged, but don’t necessarily have enough money at the moment. You agree to buy a more expensive ring in the future, and use a cheap stand-in ring today.

Or, some people use costume jewelry engagement rings because they’re terrified of losing an expensive engagement ring, or losing a stone. Ultimately, costume jewelry is a fun and low-cost option used by people all over the world.

If you like the creativity of costume jewelry, then consider a DIY ring. Some people take a costume jewelry-like approach to engagement rings and make a DIY ring. In the future, you may even be able to make synthetic diamonds at home using your microwave!

1) Alternative Gemstones

Editor’s Note: Before you buy, find an online jeweler you trust—preferably one that specialized in alternative engagement rings, like James Allen.

If you like the idea of diamond engagement rings, but don’t actually like diamonds (or their price), then there’s a whole category of alternative gemstones available for you to purchase.

Today, alternative gemstones are steadily rising in popularity. Many couples are encouraged by the cheap costs of alternative gemstones. Some people don’t care about the costs – they just genuinely prefer the unique color of a ruby or sapphire stone.

Whatever the case may be, alternative gemstones can be just as meaningful as diamonds when it comes to engagement rings.

Alternative gemstones have a long way to go before they’re considered mainstream. One 2013 online survey showed that only 13% of brides wore non-diamond jewels. Of course, the relative low popularity of these gemstones is an opportunity: engagement rings featuring alternative gemstones tend to be much cheaper because, let’s face it, most people prefer diamonds.

Some of the most popular alternative gemstones available today include:

Morganite: Morganite is arguably the most popular engagement ring alternative on the market today. It’s particularly popular because of its pink color. The stone typically has a pink to orange-pink color, giving it a distinctive appearance on your hand.

Garnet: Garnet is actually a series of many different minerals, each of which has a unique chemical formula. The multitude of minerals and impurities of each mineral means garnet comes in a wide variety of colors.

Tanzanite: Tanzanite isn’t as popular as diamond, but it’s certainly rarer. In nature, tanzanite is 1000 times rarer than diamonds. In fact, it was one of the last gemstones to be discovered, having only recently been discovered in Tanzania, near the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Color-wise, tanzanite has a rich, deep blue hue, although some varieties feature a distinctive purple color.

Oregon Sunstone: Oregon sunstone, as you may have guessed from the name, is unique to Oregon. There are copper crystals in the stone that give it a unique, speckled glimmer. It’s not as sparkling as a diamond, but it sparkles in a different, unique way.

Tsavorite: Tsavorite is a type of garnet stone that contains calcium-aluminum. Remember up above when we said that garnet could take many different colors and hues? Tsavorite is one such color. The gemstone was only recently discovered. In 1967, a British prospector stumbled across the gemstone in Tanzania.

Azurite and Malachite: these two stones are commonly used together in rings, so they deserve to be mentioned in the same section. Azurite has a deep blue color, while malachite has an opaque green color. When used together in a ring, they form a lava lamp-like appearance. If you’re looking for a non-traditional engagement ring that doesn’t look anything like an engagement ring, an azurite/malachite engagement ring may be perfect for you.

Which Type of Ring is Right for You?

There’s no rule stating that you have to use a diamond in your engagement ring. In fact, there’s no rule saying that you need to buy an engagement ring at all.

Some couples ignore an engagement ring and buy a house or go on a vacation instead. Other couples buy cheap costume jewelry, then wait a few years until they can afford to buy a better ring.

When it comes to diamond engagement ring alternatives, you have more options today than ever before. Whether you’re looking for manmade synthetic diamonds like moissanite or more interested in using a family heirloom, you have a wide range of ways to make sure your engagement ring is one to remember forever.

Shop now: Visit James Allen, our recommended diamond jeweler.

About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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