Are diamonds really forever? 8 alternatives to the traditional white diamond

March 09, 2018


Diamond engagement ring trend 

'Diamonds are a girl's best friend' and 'Diamonds are forever' are just two examples of the slogans used in the advertising campaign run by the diamond giant De Beers in the late 1940s. Emeralds, rubies and sapphires were the preferred choice for engagement rings since the dawn of time, and diamonds are a relatively recent addition, with diamond engagement rings coming into vogue from the early 20th century.

The return of coloured gems in engagement rings 

There has been a rising trend of alternatives to the more traditional diamond in engagement rings over the recent years. The unrivalled expression of individuality that a coloured gemstone engagement ring provides along with the unexpected wow factor and the high cost of diamonds have ensured that more and more couples are choosing to step away from the traditional. While a diamond engagement ring will always be the classic choice, there is a plethora of exciting – and more affordable – gemstones that can provide greater impact at lower cost. Not all coloured gemstones are a suitable choice for engagement rings though, with durability and hardness being important aspects in choosing the right stone. Here are our top 7 coloured gemstone alternatives to ditch the traditional diamond for, for a truly individual, stand-out engagement ring.

1. Parti Sapphire 9 Mohs

Parti sapphires, including the beautiful gemstones from Australia, are loved by couples looking for a unique coloured gem for their engagement ring. Featuring  bands or areas of colour such as blue, green, teal and yellow, these beautiful gems recall the colours of the Australian landscape: gum, wattle and deep blue sky. Parti sapphires in oval, octagon, round, pear and emerald cuts are all a fabulous engagement ring gemstone choice, either paired with diamonds or on their own, such as solitaire ring designs. Side or accent diamonds, such as kite shaped, trillion, pear cut, baguette or round can look spectacular in engagement rings, accentuating parti sapphire's unique beauty. A durable gem with hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, ideal for every day pieces such as engagement rings, parti sapphire is here to stay. As each parti sapphire is unique, you can be assured that an engagement ring with this stone would also be a truly unique one. Parti sapphires are yet to be synthesized, so you can be assured that this unique gem is sure to be the real deal.

2. Grey Spinel 8 Mohs

Grey spinel is the ultimate stone for those who have an eye for the refined and mysterious. This stunning gem comes in an assortment of tones from a silvery lavender to a deeper, warmer shade of charcoal. These warm and cool tones mean there is a grey spinel to match a variety of skin tones. A rose gold setting is perfect for picking up the warm tones of the stone. White gold enhances the cool tones found in the more violet spinels, creating a sleek sophisticated feel. Black or white diamonds set in the band of the ring would accentuate or contrast with the stone. Despite being rarer than sapphire, spinel is more affordable. Like sapphire, spinel is a hardwearing stone, with a rating of 8 on the Mohs scale, which makes it a great choice of gem to be worn every day.

3. Blue and Fancy Colour Sapphire 9 Mohs

Customarily,  blue sapphire represents nobility, wisdom, honesty and faithfulness. It has been incorporated into the traditional dress of royalty and the clergy for centuries. Sapphires are strong and durable, with hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, and diverse, occurring in a dazzling array of colour from white to deepest, almost black, blue. Due to their strength, sapphires have been considered a very practical choice for engagement rings. The stunning blue sapphire in Princess Diana’s (now Kate Middleton’s) engagement ring sparked a spike in blue sapphire engagement ring popularity. Pink sapphires can be a vibrant or subdued tone, a feminine flair which can be complemented by diamond accents in the ring design. Shades of gold, from champagne and peach, to pale yellows, to deep, vibrant oranges, look exquisite set into rose or yellow gold, which picks out the warm tones, or white gold, to accentuate the cooler shades.

4. Morganite 7.5-8 Mohs

Morganite is part of the beryl family, which also includes emerald and aquamarine. Being 7.5-8 on the Mohs hardness scale makes morganite a great choice for a ring worn every day like an engagement ring would be. Morganite comes in a variety of pink-tone pastels, from peach to salmon to blush pink. A rose gold setting would pick out and intensify the softer peach tones. This feminine colour brings a subtle warm tone to a ring, which makes it perfect for anyone who wants subtlety over a statement colour. Much like a nude pair of heels, these soft pinks match the colours found in a sophisticated fashion-savvy wardrobe and go with everything. Due to the delicate colour palette, a larger stone would not look overbearing when worn as an engagement ring. Dubbed ‘the love stone’, morganite is said to have the metaphysical properties of attracting and maintaining love, making it a beautiful choice for a ring symbolising love and commitment.

5. Aquamarine 7.5-8 Mohs

Cool and calm, this beautiful stone is leading the pack when it comes to engagement ring takeovers. Much like morganite, the subtle colour of aquamarine is very attractive for those who prefer delicacy over a drastic difference to the popular diamond. The pale ocean tones range from a greenish blue to a deeper more vibrant blue hue. These tones can be accentuated with different metals and due to the cool tone, suit most skin tones. If your partner is an ocean lover, surfer, or sailor, this gem would directly link back to their connection with the water. The name aquamarine is Latin, aqua meaning water and marine meaning sea. An aquamarine engagement ring is a wonderful way to start off wedding planning, by ticking the “something blue” off the list straight away. 

6. Champagne Diamond 10 Mohs

What better way to celebrate than with champagne! Start your beautiful married life off with an elegant style choice using a champagne diamond as your statement stone. The wonderful thing about champagne diamonds is the hardness is not compromised by the colour. A more affordable alternative to the traditional white diamond, champagne diamonds come in the same variety of cuts and shapes that white diamonds do, allowing you to create a truly individual ring. The warm hues range from a subtle antique off-white, through to a darker cognac. For a contrast, pair the stone with white diamond accents to accentuate the warm tones. A setting of rose gold helps to create a feminine feel. 

7. Tourmaline 7-7.5 Mohs

Tourmaline comes in a range of different colours and has been popular in Western European jewellery since the 1700s. Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors. From rich reds to pastel pinks and peach tones, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues, the breadth of this gem’s color range is unrivalled. Indicolite tourmaline includes all shades of blue, from deep blue to shades of teal, and is one of the rarest and most desirable in the tourmaline family. The neon-blue Paraiba tourmaline is in its own category of rarity and value, as the deposits of this amazingly beautiful gemstone are now almost exhausted. Rubellite tourmaline comes in gorgeous shades of deep red to bright pink and is a fun and feminine choice for a non-traditional engagement ring. It looks divine paired with the warm tones of rose or yellow gold, or cool tones of white gold, the latter accentuating the blue tones that can be seen in the cooler shades of rubellite. Tourmaline also comes in earthy greens and vibrant emerald shades. Emeralds are often brittle due to multitude of inclusions usually present in this precious gem, which makes verdelite tourmaline a wonderful, and much more affordable, alternative to emerald for an engagement stone.

8. Pink and red spinel 8 Mohs

Dazzling, fiery hot and electric. Did we just describe your love journey with your partner? Red and pink spinel are the perfect stone for an exciting, lively engagement ring. In some cases, the pink tone can be described as almost neon. This gem gets its vibrant colour from chromium, the same chemical that gives ruby its red colour. One of the most famous examples is the so-called “Black Prince’s ruby”, set into the Imperial State Crown of England and displayed in the Tower of London. Thought to be a ruby for centuries, the gem was analyzed in recent years and found to be, in fact, a red spinel. Edward, Prince of Wales, the “Black Prince”, received the stone in 1367 as payment for his aid to put down a revolt against the King of Spain. “The Black Prince’s Ruby” outlasted them all, surviving fires, attempted theft, and World War II bombing raids. With all this history, it seems as though spinel may be a good luck charm.

The ferocity of this colour allows room for additional statement colours for an even more fun and vibrant look. Paired with a black gemstone, such as black spinel, black diamond or onyx, this stone reaches a new level of feminine style. Pink spinel suits a setting in any gold colour, with the rose or yellow gold accentuating its warm hues. The best quality pink spinels are sourced from Tanzania, Africa. Vivid, clear and sparkling red spinels are a wonderful alternative to the often milky and included ruby. With a Mohs scale rating of 8, this stone is durable enough to be worn every day. Paired with a well considered setting, a spinel ring would be a wonderful piece to be appreciated by generations to come.

There are so many wonderful options for your bespoke engagement ring, from diamonds to coloured gemstones, that it can be tricky to know who to trust and how to make the right choices for your engagement ring, this most significant of jewels. We are happy to talk through the many different options of diamonds, gems and settings, to ensure you get the best value for money and the best design you will cherish for the rest of your life. To arrange a complimentary design consultation, drop us a line or call us on 02 9221 1900.

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Ring sizes

We use Australian ring size measurements, which are in an alphabetical range from A-Z.

As your fingers contract and expand due to the temperature, humidity, exercise, etc, your ring will fit on your finger tighter or looser. Your ring should fit comfortably and you need to find a balance between too big and too small. It is recommended that you should have to push your ring on tightly over your knuckle and it should spin slightly around the base of your finger. There should be some resistance when the ring is taken off – this will help to keep the ring on when your fingers are cold or wet. The correct size is the one that you feel the most confident and comfortable with.

We suggest that you size the finger you intend to wear your ring on at room temperature – this should provide you with a size that should be close to perfect most of the time.

Top-heavy rings can tend to spin on your finger, as the base of your finger is usually thinner than your knuckle. We suggest when sizing your finger for a top-heavy ring, that you err on the tighter side, rather than a loose fit. This will mean that the ring will stay on the top of your finger and it will ultimately be more comfortable to wear.

If you’re choosing a wide ring, you will tend to go up a size. There is more surface area on a wider ring and therefore more metal to grip to your finger.

If you are interested in a ring that is 5mm or wider, we suggest going up a size (one size larger than the sizing gauge). We suggest going up another size if the ring you are interested in is 9mm or larger (two sizes larger than the sizing gauge).

If you are buying a ring as a gift for someone, we recommend that you measure the inside diameter of a ring the person you’re buying the gift for, regularly wears on the finger your gift will be worn on.

Measuring your finger

If you do not know your ring size you can use this guide to obtain an approximate measurement.

Before measuring the finger on which the ring you’re purchasing will be worn, please ensure the following:

The number that lines up with edges of the opening is the ‘interior circumference’. Please note this number and then refer to our Ring Size Chart to choose the correct ring size.

Download Ring Size Guide PDF

If you do not know your ring size you can use this guide to obtain an approximate measurement.

If you have a ring that is worn on the finger you need sizing, print out the ring size guide (take care to print it at 100%), and place the existing ring over the circles. Measure the inside of the ring against the outside of the circle. If you can hardly see the black line which goes around each circle, you have chosen the right size. Compare the ring to the adjacent circles to check that you definitely have the right size.

You can then double check this measurement by measuring the inside diameter of the ring, and matching that against the ring diameter measurements shown.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a ring available, you can measure the finger itself to obtain an approximate ring size. You can do so by wrapping a piece of string or thin strip of paper around the finger on which you wish to wear the ring, marking it with a pen where it overlaps. Measure the piece of string with a ruler to obtain the circumference of the finger, and compare that to the European Size measurement shown on the chart. We would recommend that in order to obtain the most accurate measurement when taking your ring size in this way, you do so at the end of the day when the finger is at its largest, and not when your hands are unusually cold as this would lead to a smaller ring size.

If you require any further assistance in obtaining your ring size, please  contact us and we will be happy to help.