An unconventional engagement stone can help you shine bright like a diamond—without one.

This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in December 2019.

Diamonds are popular for a reason. Nothing outshines their legacy and longevity.

“Diamonds are part of the traditional love story,” says Tery Vari, the Ohio market vice president of Diamonds Direct. The national retailer carries responsibly sourced, natural gemstones. “Diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth and are guaranteed to stand the test of time. They reflect more light than other gemstones, making the scintillation beyond compare.”

But this workhorse of a rock has some sister stones that offer a unique look to lovers with a style all their own. Here are seven alternative engagement ring options and what to consider before putting a ring on it—or it on a ring.

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“My recommendations for alternative engagement ring stones would include natural sapphires, rubies and emeralds,” Vari says. “I would suggest sapphires and rubies over emeralds, as they are more durable.”

Sapphires also were the engagement stone of choice for the ancient Romans. And though they are most recognizable in their deep, almost otherworldly blue shade, sapphires come in all colors of the rainbow and can be custom-cut into any shape, says Kathryn Givens, sales supervisor at Worthington Jewelers.

“It has a very high rating on the Mohs scale, which measures hardness,” Givens says. “It is also a stone that allows for some reflection of light within the stone—like diamonds, just not quite as sparkly. They are considered a precious gemstone, so you often see them set with diamonds next to or around them.”


From ruby-strewn legends of princes and pirates to the ruby-red slippers of a place called home, these valuable stones have long symbolized powerful, passionate emotions. Thanks to their hardness, rubies speak smart as well as heart.

“The most important aspect of using an alternative stone is that you want to consider stones that have a hardness that can last for a lifetime,” says Shane Hampton, manager at Alexanders Jewelers. “If not choosing a diamond, we recommend ruby or sapphire. They both have a hardness of 9 [on the Mohs scale], so the stone will last.”


Eco- and budget-friendly moissanite has similar brilliance and colorlessness as a diamond and is closer to a diamond in hardness and durability than cubic zirconia, rating 9.5 on the Mohs scale (diamonds are rated at 10).

“We sell moissanite as an alternative to diamond,” says Givens at Worthington Jewelers. “For customers who still want a big, sparkly, white center stone, it has become very popular.”


It’s pink! Morganite is a mineral that includes both emerald and aquamarine, so it comes correct with the sparkle, and it ranks around a 7 or an 8 on the Mohs scale. A timeless rose gold band complements the unconventional color perfectly. Fun fact: It was named for financier and gem collector J.P. Morgan, of JPMorgan Chase banking fame.


This natural gemstone has a dreamy, milky appearance with flecks of shimmery color throughout. Though romantic, opal is much softer and more porous than many stones.

“Be very careful wearing a softer gemstone like an opal,” Vari says. “[Soft] gemstones are more likely to chip, crack, break or suffer abrasions over time. If your heart gets broken easily, a softer stone may not be for you.”

Givens recommends considering your lifestyle. Someone who gardens twice a week or goes to CrossFit every morning wouldn’t do well with an opal ring.

“If their heart is set on it, then we usually go by the same rules of wisdom,” Givens says. “It should be the last thing you put on in the morning before leaving the house, the first thing you take off when you get home. No heavy, hands-on work; no [household] chemicals or chlorinated pools. No working out in your rings, and, most people are surprised by this one, but no sleeping in them either.”


At once dark with depth and vibrant with color, emerald’s green hues and durability give an engagement ring a classic elegance with a contemporary sensibility. Their antique, art deco-style complexity is particularly lovely in a rectangular bullet cut—also known, unsurprisingly, as an emerald cut.


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