While the diamond is a timeless choice for an engagement ring centre stone, more and more couples have been veering away from tradition and looking to alternative gemstones instead. Alternative centre gemstones can add a touch of colour and modernity to the established classic; they’re also eco-friendlier and more cost-effective than a diamond would be. Read on below for our guide on some of the most popular alternative gemstones that you can choose for your engagement ring, as well as what they mean:
Sapphires are a recently popular choice for engagement rings, a trend bolstered by the reappearance of the late Lady Diana Spencer’s sapphire engagement ring on the hand of His Royal Highness Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, when they announced their engagement in 2010. Though we are most familiar with blue sapphires, sapphires can also be of other colours, namely: peach, pink, yellow, orange, green, brown, or violet. Colourless sapphires also exist, and they have traditionally been used as a substitute for diamonds throughout history. It is the birthstone for those born in September and represents loyalty, sincerity, trust and truth when used as the centrepiece for an engagement ring.
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness determines the scratch resistance of various minerals. Since engagement rings are typically worn daily, it’s recommended to go for durable precious stones that register at least a 7 on the Mohs scale. You’ll be glad to know that sapphires are a 9 on the hardness scale, ranking only second to diamonds at 10, making them the perfect choice for your engagement ring. If you don’t know where to buy sapphire rings in New Zealand, a simple online search should net a list of reputable jewellers.
The gemstone known as the emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, rendered its characteristic vivid green colour by trace amounts of chromium and vanadium. It is the birthstone for those born in May and can range in hue from yellow- to blue-green. Emeralds register between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it a similarly suitable choice for an engagement ring meant to be worn daily.
The ancient Greeks associated the emerald with Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and they believed that the gem could ward against infidelity and unfaithfulness. Set into an engagement or wedding ring, it signifies the giver’s unwavering love and his hopes for a peaceful and blessed marriage.
The name opal is said to have originated from the Sanskrit word úpala, which means “precious stone”. It is classified as a mineraloid due to its amorphous quality, which means that it does not demonstrate crystallinity. It is the birthstone for those born in October and is also the national gemstone of Australia. They are meant to represent passion and fidelity and are said to increase the wearer’s confidence and creativity.
Opals register between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale and are a touch more delicate than other precious stones on this list. They are further divided according to class: precious opals have unique internal structures that diffract light and display iridescence, making for a truly one-of-a-kind engagement ring that has an almost otherworldly appearance. Common opals have a more understated hazy, milky sheen referred to in gemmology as opalescence that is especially attractive as a low-key ring centrepiece option.
Rubies are closely related to sapphires; both gemstones are varieties of the mineral corundum. It is the birthstone of those born in July and its colour ranges from feminine pale pink to passionate blood red.
It is considered the ultimate representation of deep, fervent love and said to promote physical and emotional cleansing. Like its cousin the sapphire, rubies register 9 on the Mohs scale and are an ideal centre stone choice for even the most active hands.
Diamonds aren’t the only gems that last forever, so don’t be afraid to go alternative with your engagement ring. You can make it truly your own by mixing and matching precious stones and choosing a robust material for the band that accentuates your chosen colours. You may also ask your jeweller for recommendations regarding stone settings that truly show off your stones’ unique properties.