Okay ladies, we know not each and every one of you is a fan of the traditional diamond engagement ring. Lately, we’ve been seeing lots of beautiful and trendy alternative engagement rings out and about. These rings are adorned with stones like moonstones, turquoise, pearls, and other gems. The unfortunate truth, though, is that not all gemstones are created equal. Let’s dig into the science!
A Little Bit About Diamonds
Aside from being a girl’s best friend, there’s a reason why diamonds are commonly used in engagement rings: they’re durable enough to wear everyday. Diamonds rank a 10 (the highest possible) on the MOHS scale, which measures mineral hardness. This means that a diamond can only be scratched by another diamond. It also means that it can scratch virtually every other gemstone out there, so make sure you keep it separate from all the other stones in your jewelry box!
Even though it ranks a 10 on the MOHS scale, a diamond can still get damaged. It only scores a “good” on the toughness scale, meaning a hard blow could cleave or fracture your beautiful diamond. Now, most of us aren’t out smashing our rings with hammers, but diamonds with thin girdles (the outermost edge of the stone) can easily get broken or chipped. Pear and marquise-cuts have exposed points, which also makes them susceptible to damage.
Overall though, a diamond is a pretty bad ass stone and is a great choice for something that’s going to be on your finger every day for the rest of your life. But it’s not the only option.
There are plenty of wonderful diamond-alternative engagement rings out there. So let’s dig into the details about some more gemstones!
Best Diamond Lookalike: Moissanite Engagement Rings
At a 9.25 on the MOHS scale, moissanite is nearly as hard as a diamond. It actually looks kind of similar, too. It has a cool backstory: in 1893, Henri Moissan found microscopic particles of this stone in a crater left by a meteorite strike in Arizona.
Moissanite is rarely found in nature, and so most of it is created artificially. If that sounds like a turn off, think again! Because they are grown in a controlled lab environment and not mined from the earth like diamonds, they have a smaller carbon footprint and are created ethically. This is a more eco-friendly choice than a diamond. Consider us sold!
Some other perks: moissanite costs less the a diamond and sparkles more than a diamond.
Best Diamond Alternative: Sapphire Engagement Rings
Sapphire engagement rings by Oore
If you aren’t feeling a big ol’ diamond, sapphire is a worthy substitute. In fact, sapphire and its cousin ruby are the only stones most jewelers recommend for use in engagement rings. Sapphire ranks a 9 on the MOHS scale, so it’s very durable. Plus, sapphire is actually more chip resistant than diamonds.
When you think of sapphire, you probably picture something that is deep blue in color. However, they’re actually found in a variety of shades and colors, like yellow, purple, pink, green, white, and even multi-color. White sapphires look similar to diamonds, they just aren’t as shiny (or as expensive!).
Overall, sapphires make great diamond-alternative engagement rings. We love the variety of colors they come in!
Best Diamond Alternative: Ruby Engagement Rings
Ruby Engagement Ring by Envero Jewelry
Rubies and sapphires are actually made of the same mineral: corundum. So, of course, like sapphires, rubies also rank a 9 on the MOHS scale. This makes them great stones for every day wear.
Nerd fact: the red color is produced by the presence of chromium in the gem. To be considered a ruby, there must be enough chronium to give the gem a distinctly red color.
High Maintenance: Morganite, Emerald, & Aquamarine Engagement Rings
Morganite, emerald & aquamarine engagement rings by PENNI Jewel
Morganite, emerald, aquamarine are varieties of a mineral called Beryl. It ranks 7.5-8 on the MOHS scale, which sounds decent, but these stones are actually high maintenance. Most jewelers advise against wearing them in every day rings. Although beautiful, morganite, emeralds and aquamarines will likely need to be recut, repolished, or even replaced every 5-15 years, depending on how much wear it gets. They also tend to get cloudy easily, but this can usually be remedied with a quick and easy cleaning. Rings with these stones should definitely be taken off during housework, gardening, and sports.
If it’s the color of these stones you’re after, we recommend looking at sapphires first. You may be able to find one that looks very similar! If you have your heart set on a morganite, aquamarine or emerald engagement ring, just be aware. It’s high maintenance!
Another Good Alternative: Topaz Engagement Ring
Topaz scores an 8 on the MOHS scale, so it’s relatively hard, but not as durable as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. You’ll probably see some scratches after a few years of wear. Like sapphire, topaz comes in a variety of colors, including blue, red, yellow, orange, brown, pink…you get the idea.
Diamond-Alternatives That Are Best To Avoid
The following stones aren’t recommend for engagement rings. They aren’t durable enough to withstand being worn every day. These stones all score a 7 or lower on the MOHS scale.
- Amethyst: fades and shows wear over time.
- Labradorite: this stone is so beautiful and reminds us of the northern lights. While it likely won’t get broken, it can get scratched easily (including by dust!).
- Moonstone & Sunstones: prone to breaking, these stones usually work better in earrings or pendants that won’t get bumped around!
- Opals: opals are beautiful, but they’re not as hardy as other gemstones. They will tarnish if you wear them every day and are also notorious for cracking and splitting.
- Onyx: this black stone will scratch and wear down after time. If you like this look, try a black diamond!
- Pearl: pearl scores a super low 2.5-3 on the MOHS scale, so just avoid this one entirely for every day wear.
- Tanzanite: likely to chip and get scratched quickly.
- Turquoise: turquoise is extremely soft, so you can almost guarantee that it will get scratched if worn every day.
- Everyday wear and tear will scratch the surface of the stone, although it is meant to have a worn and natural appearance.
We want to hear from you! Would you consider a diamond-alternative ring? What’s your favorite alternative stone?