It’s said a diamond is forever, but it may not be for everyone. Alternatives to diamonds can be just as remarkable, but before you make your selection, it’s important to know the characteristics of other gems. Many clear stones look like diamonds and come at a much lower cost without sacrificing excellent quality. If you want to substitute the diamond for something a little less traditional or a little more cost-efficient, look over our list of best diamond alternatives for your engagement ring.
Should you buy a diamond engagement ring?
The diamond has earned its rightful place as the most popular stone for an engagement ring. It’s the most durable gemstone with the highest possible hardness score of 10. It’s also one of the most sparkly with a refractive index of 2.417. The diamond’s beauty has withstood the test of time. If longevity and brilliance are important to you, then nothing beats the diamond. If not, you may want to find an alternative--it all depends on what you value in an engagement ring.
What to consider when shopping for a diamond alternative
Style: If you’re a traditional bride, you may want something that looks as much like a diamond as possible. If not, you may opt for a colored stone.
Color: With clear stones, the least amount of color the better. But if a stone looks clear to the naked eye, that’s all that matters. If you’re shopping for a colored stone, you need to take the hue and saturation into account.
Durability: Most brides-to-be desire an engagement ring that will last a lifetime, but depending on how often you wear your ring, some stones won’t last that long without getting damaged. That’s why you’ll want to pay attention to a stone’s hardness, measured on a scale from 1-10. Gemstones that score below a 7 require a little extra care and caution. If you plan to wear your ring every day, then you’ll want to choose a gem with high hardness.
Sparkle: Some stones have greater scintillation, or sparkle, than others. This is because they have a higher refractive index (RI). The lower the RI, the more muted the stone.
Budget: Many diamond substitutes are less expensive than the natural stone. You have a variety of options ranging from other types of precious stones to synthetic stones if you’d prefer to save for other wedding expenses or future plans. If you want a large stone, most diamond alternatives cost less per carat.
6 Alternatives to diamonds
1. White sapphire
Sapphires are well-known for their beautiful, rich blues but are colorless in their purest form. White sapphires are precious stones like diamonds and are just a notch below diamonds in durability. They’re not as refractive as diamonds, so white sapphires give off a silvery rather than a colorful sparkle. They aren’t as clear as diamonds, but the sapphire’s cloudy look is desirable for its velvety appearance.
Mohs hardness: 9
Refractive index: 1.762
2. Precious beryl
Emeralds and Aquamarines are types of beryls, but precious beryl includes any other color variation besides blue or green. Colorless precious beryls are also called goshenite and used as diamond substitutes. The stone can sparkle brilliantly but is more brittle than a diamond.
Mohs hardness: 7.5-8
Refractive index: 1.562
3. Quartz crystal
The quartz crystal is not the best replica of the diamond’s natural luster, but it is beautiful in its own way. Quartz crystal has a glassy appearance and is the least expensive alternative to the natural stones on our list.
Mohs hardness: 7
Refractive index: 1.54
Zircon is a brilliant stone that allows you to see double the facets, which gives it high refraction. However, zircon is not as durable as other alternatives.
Mohs hardness: 6.5-7.5
Refractive index: 1.93
5. White topaz
Topaz comes in many colors, but is clear in its most rare and raw form. It makes a good diamond alternative because it is both durable and brilliant.
Mohs hardness: 8
Refractive index: 1.61
Moissanite is extremely rare in nature, so it’s created in a lab for jewelers to sell. The stone is nearly as hard and even more sparkly than a diamond. Because the stone is lab-created, it has few inclusions, which gives it greater refraction.
Mohs hardness: 9.5
Refractive index: 2.65
The best diamond alternatives
The best alternative diamond depends on what qualities you value most and what you’re willing to spend. But we’ve done some evaluating for you based on the following criteria to help you make an easy decision.
Best for durability: White sapphire
Best for sparkle: Moissanite
Best for budget: Quartz crystal
Best for your style: It’s up to you!
No matter your choice, every gemstone--diamond or not--should be evaluated for quality by the 4 Cs.
Cut--When a lapidary cuts a stone, he or she creates facets that refract light and give-the gemstone its brilliance. The cut of the stone determines a ring’s value and desirability. This is why the round brilliant diamond is so popular--the cut is considered perfection. Learn more about gemstone cuts.
Color--When referring to clear stones, the less color, the more rare and valuable the stone. Colored stones are desired for their depth and intensity of color.
Clarity--A clear stone has no visible inclusions or marks within.
Carat--The size of a stone is measured in carats.
Alternative diamond engagement rings
A diamond alternative doesn’t have to be another clear stone or even come from the earth. Colored gemstones make excellent engagement rings that you can personalize according to your unique taste, and lab-made diamonds are just as brilliant as mined ones. Options are endless when choosing an alternative engagement ring.
Colored diamonds are beautiful and rare, which makes them desirable. If you’ve decided that a diamond is the way to go but the traditional look does not appeal to you, diamonds come in many colors. Yellow, pink, black, and even speckled salt and pepper diamonds make stunning alternative diamond rings.
If you aren’t interested in diamond rings but consider durability important, then you may like another of the four precious stones--a sapphire, emerald, or ruby. These gems come in bold colors and have high hardness. The spinel is also an underrated but excellent choice for an alternative engagement ring. It’s found in a variety of colors that rival precious stones. It isn’t as hard with a score of 7.5-8 but is still a durable option. The spinel is found among many of Europe’s crown jewels.
Colored gemstones may be more personal to you. Learn thedifferent meanings of gemstonesand which stones symbolize values that you may find important to your love story.
3 Gemstone Alternatives to Traditional Diamond Rings
The stunning red ruby symbolizes romance and passion, paired with white diamonds make this one-of-a-kind ring something special.
Lab-created diamond vs. simulated diamond
When considering a diamond engagement ring, you may be surprised to learn that you can get a genuine diamond for a lower cost if you purchase one that’s lab-created. Lab-created diamonds are not fake but have the same properties as the sparkling stones that come straight from the earth--they’re just formed in a lab rather than underground. Lab-created diamonds don’t require the use of fossil fuels, so they make a great eco-friendly alternative.
A diamond simulate is a diamond look-alike but is not the real thing. It can either be another type of gemstone or man-made from a mixture of different materials. Many diamond simulants are impossible to tell apart from a real diamond without an expert eye and magnification.
Simulated diamond vs. cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia is a type of simulated diamond that is not a natural stone but a man-made replica. It’s the cheapest alternative to a diamond but does not compare in quality to the real thing. A cubic zirconia stone costs $30 or less on average and is often used in costume jewelry. It’s not to be confused with zircon, which is another clear gem that resembles a diamond but is not made in a lab.
Choosing a diamond is traditional, but that choice isn’t set in stone. Diamond or gemstone, clear or colorful, faceted or raw--whatever you choose for an engagement ring, you can’t go wrong. You know what best suits your personal style and symbolizes your relationship. Your choice is the only one that matters, so there’s no limit on how unique you can be with your alternative diamond engagement ring. Shop our entire ring collection to find the best one-of-a-kind piece for you.
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