Alternative Engagement Rings | Co-Authors: Suzanne Crudden, Kim Drosdick, Carey Pearson
Alternative Engagement Rings
For generations, societies across the globe recognized diamonds to be the choice gemstone for engagement rings. Diamonds are exponentially harder than all other stones. Beautiful and durable, the diamond engagement ring is perfect for everyday wear and tear. However, as with all things millennial, this trend is changing. Influenced by social justice, income inequality and environmental degradation of the planet, many of our clients want both ethical and affordable choices when selecting engagement rings. Consequently, many ask about alternative engagement rings.
With this rising trend, we now see a growing number of alternative engagement rings that leave us cringing. There was a reason why, for hundreds of years, diamonds remained popular for this use. The matter of durability does not disappear when you select alternative gemstones. At flux + form, this remains the starting point of such discussions. You will wear this ring every day for your entire lifetime and it will need to stand up to wear and tear. Soft gemstones, such as pearls, opals or turquoise may offer you the aesthetics you seek. However, they will not do a good job of lasting.
Here are the gemstones we often recommend in place of natural diamonds.
Created under patent by Charles & Colvard in North Carolina USA, Moissanite is a lab grown gemstone made from Silicone Carbide. A beautiful double refractive stone, Moissanite is actually more brilliant than a diamond. Where a diamond would score 10 on the Moh hardness scale, Moissanite gemstones start at 9.25. The company offers three different lines: Forever Classic was their original, featuring a line of stones with a yellow tone. The Forever Brilliant line is whiter than the Classic and finally, Forever One, their newest addition, is the whitest of them all.
Lab Created Diamonds
Lab created diamonds are chemically identical to naturally occurring mined diamonds; they are real diamonds. You will recognize these under many different labels: synthetic diamonds, man-made diamonds, artisan diamonds etc. With a Moh 10 score, these gemstones are durable and always great choices for an engagement ring.
Sapphire & Ruby
Did you know that Sapphires and Rubies are made of the same mineral, Corundum, which gets coloured by nature into different hues? White, yellow, green, pink, purple, orange and of course blue stones are referred to as Sapphires. The Red ones are called Rubies. With a Moh 9, both Sapphires and Rubies remain excellent choices for your engagement ring.
As with diamonds, synthetic Sapphires and Rubies can also be made in a lab. They are chemically identical to their natural counterparts. What you do get from the man-made version is colour consistency. For example, synthetic yellow Sapphires come in light yellow, medium yellow and dark yellow. Synthetic Rubies come in one deep beautiful hue of red. The quality of synthetic Sapphires and Rubies can vary greatly depending upon the manufacturer. Our years of experience in this field allows us to be very discerning with our suppliers. Should this be your choice, we will only recommend the best for your engagement ring.
Chrysoberyl & Alexandrite
Although lesser known, these gemstones are totally suitable for engagement rings. Chrysoberyl is tough and comes in bright yellow and yellow/green hues. Alexandrite is a version of Chrysoberyl that changes colour depending on the lighting. It appears red/purple in indoor light to green/teal/ blue in outdoor light. Alexandrite is quite rare and often more expensive than a diamond of equivalent size. However, lab-grown Alexandrite gemstones are available featuring the same changing colour properties but without the price tag of the natural counterpart.
Spinels & Sapphires
Another lesser known gemstone is Spinel. You will recognize it as the large red stone in the English crown. With a hardness of 8, Spinel gemstones range in colour from blacks, browns, blues, greens and yellows. The most rare and desirable ones are dark red. They can look incredibly similar to Rubies. Indeed, the Spinel in the English Crown is named Black Prince’s Ruby.
Natural Topaz, available in a variety of colours, is often treated to achieve desirable colour saturation. They are affordable natural stones, making lab-created versions unnecessary. You will hear the term “perfect cleavage” used with Topaz. Yes, this is an actual technical term referring to the crystalline structure which makes it susceptible to breakage when hit in the right spot. With the exception of this vulnerability, Topaz is durable. We therefore are very comfortable making this recommendation when budgets are modest.
Alternative engagement rings allow our clients to comfortably break from tradition while holding on to their own set of values. In addition to our wealth of knowledge about gemstones, we also have the ability to craft, right on site, unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that do not destroy bank accounts. Our custom design process has been streamlined for efficiencies. If you are in the market for an alternative custom engagement ring, you will find it very worth your while to stop in at flux + form.