Diamond Alternatives: Sizing Your Ring Options

Personalize your engagement ring with a non-traditional gemstone

By Lynette DiPalma

sapphire stone
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Once upon a time, diamonds were considered the rarest and most brilliant natural stone available. These qualities made them an obvious choice to represent the strength of the bonds between a couple in an engagement ring. However, in modern times, the diamond is far from rare and now comes with political and environmental issues attached. To avoid the ethical problems diamonds present, consider alternatives when choosing an engagement ring.


The second most-popular stone for engagement rings, sapphires are very hard stones, which is good for jewelry that will be frequently worn. Sapphires are most commonly found in blue, but they also come in a variety of other colors including yellow, pink, orange, purple and light green.


Show your passion with a ruby. Rubies are a striking deep-red stone that have been highly desired by jewelers and royalty around the world. High-quality rubies are often more valuable than diamonds, so they make an excellent alternative for engagement rings.

White Sapphires

Simulate a diamond with a white sapphire. A white sapphire is still a strong, durable stone but does not carry any of the coloring chemical properties of other sapphires. This is a good option if your bride insists on a traditional-looking natural stone.

Synthetic Stones

Consider synthetic diamond-like stones. Moissanite, cubic zirconia and cultured diamonds all resemble diamonds since they are mostly colorless, but they come with none of the ethical problems and sport a much smaller price tag. Synthetic stones will also provide a stone with much more clarity than any natural stone.


Offer your bride a ring with either her or your birthstone instead of a diamond. There are actually several different lists of birthstones including traditional, modern, zodiac and Hebrew. Some months have the same stone across traditions, like June is often a ruby, while others change according to which list is used.

Favorite Colors

Choose your bride's favorite stone or simply a stone in her favorite color. For example, if your bride loves the color purple, she will likely be quite taken with an engagement ring set with an Alexandrite or Tanzanite.

Family Heirlooms

Ask her family or your family if there are any heirloom pieces or stones that you could remount as an engagement ring. The resulting ring will have the added advantage of having a built-in family history to treasure in addition to the sentimental value of the engagement ring.

About the Author

Lynette DiPalma is a freelance writer in the weddings field who co-owns a small wedding services business and has officiated at weddings.

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Something that sparkles

Once upon a time, the groom surprised the bride with a ring he picked himself. The uber-romantic may still opt for this route. But ring-shopping can also be a joint venture (much like the marriage itself). Discuss ring preferences (vintage? side stones?), or if you want the ring to be exactly right, design it.

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Wedding Glossary


A diamond that comes from an ethical source. A certification of origin guarantees that child labor, human labor abuse, violence and environmentally unsound methods were not part of the diamond's history.

View the Full Weddings Glossary
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