December 03 2020 – Mike Yarbrough
A diamond has been the classic choice for engagement rings and wedding rings for a long time. But there will always be those who chafe at the constraints of tradition, preferring to blaze their own trail.
For those kinds of folks, there are an abundance of unique, non-traditional diamond alternatives. Whether that means something "diamond-like," such as cubic zirconia or colored gemstones, or something completely different, like a ring made of wood and elk antler, you're sure to find a ring that represents your special love story.
Diamond Ring History
The earliest historically documented diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477, but it would take centuries for diamond engagement rings to become commonplace.
It was the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867 that made the stones more widely available. And it was an extensive marketing campaign by the diamond company, De Beers, in the 20th century that increased their profile as the leading choice for engagement rings. De Beers introduced the iconic slogan, "a diamond is forever" in 1947, driving sales of diamond engagement rings through the roof.
Today, of course, the horrors of the African diamond trade are well known, and the idea that a diamond symbolizes eternal love is not as widely accepted as it was just a few decades ago. While some still prefer a traditional diamond engagement ring, this shift in perspective has led many couples to seek out diamond alternatives.
For those who object to diamonds on moral grounds (or simply think they're a cliche) there are countless diamond alternatives to choose from. Some hew close to tradition while others veer wildly into unconventional territory. The key is to choose a ring that feels right to you and your fiancé(e). At the end of the day, no one else's opinion really matters!
1. Sapphire Engagement Rings
Sapphires are a popular choice for engagement rings thanks to their striking color and association with royalty. While the general population is most familiar with blue sapphires (the richer the blue, the higher the price tag), they occur naturally in a broad spectrum of colors, including white. White sapphires are a common diamond substitute because it looks just like a real diamond but is a fraction of the price.
2. Ruby Engagement Rings
The deep red hue of a ruby is always eye-catching. For many, this stone also symbolizes love, courage and passion, which makes it an ideal diamond alternative for an engagement ring.
3. Claddagh Rings
A Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring that represents love, loyalty and friendship. Typically made of gold or silver, these rings have a design that features two hands clasped around a heart, topped with a crown. Claddagh rings have been worn for centuries, and can be used either as wedding bands or engagement rings.
4. Moissanite Engagement Rings
Moissanite is a clear, man-made gemstone that was discovered by the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Henri Moissan in 1893. This stone looks strikingly similar to a diamond and is nearly as hard (Moissanite is a 9.25 on the Mohs hardness scale, while diamond is a 10). It is somewhat brighter and more sparkly than a natural diamond but it takes a trained eye to spot the differences.
5. Topaz Rings
Topaz is a semi-precious gemstone that stacks up nicely as an affordable diamond alternative. It scores an 8 on the Mohs scale, so it doesn't scratch easily. Topaz is available in a wide range of colors: white topaz is a common diamond substitute, but you may also find royal blue or deep red-colored topaz that makes a budget-friendly alternative to sapphire or ruby.
6. Lab-Created Diamonds
Not to be confused with diamond simulants like cubic zirconia or moissanite, lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, actual diamonds. But because they are manmade, they are less expensive than naturally occurring diamonds. To the naked eye, they look nearly identical to regular diamonds but are a great, conflict-free diamond alternative.
7. Other Non-Traditional Ring Materials
If you or your fiancé(e) aren't really into center stones and flashy diamonds on their rings, why not choose a material that holds a deeper significance? Wood rings are a good example, but you can also have rings made using materials ranging from elk antler and crushed lavender to coffee grounds and celtic tartan. All of these unique combinations of materials give you and your fiancé(e) the opportunity to wear rings that tell your love story.Take our ring style quiz to discover which out our ring collections is best for you!