More couples than ever before are opting for alternative gemstones for engagement rings. That’s because brides want a unique ring that appeals to their individual tastes and preferences.

On the other hand, some couples desire a more cost effective option. Diamonds have began taking a back seat, and we here at Jonathan’s love the variety.

Round, brilliant traditional cuts are still popular, however alternative stones have definitely trended upwards the past few years. Today we’re looking at some of the most popular alternative gemstones for engagement rings.

Check out our favorite top 7!


alternative emerald stone for engagement ring
Alexis Russell emerald engagement ring

Gorgeous emerald engagement rings are having a moment. Actually it’s more like many moments. We’ve seen several celeb engagement rings with emeralds or emerald accents this year alone. For instance, there’s the celebrity chef couple Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael Castellon or Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban.

Emeralds make up one of the four main sought after precious gemstones, along with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. The beautiful green hues are a unique choice for engagement rings, and often have sentimental meaning for this owner.

Quick facts on the emerald gemstone:

  • May’s birthstone
  • symbolizes growth and prosperity
  • 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale


sapphire gemstone for engagement ring

Similarly, sapphires are another favorite alternative gemstone for engagement rings. Blue sapphires are most common, but less popular hues range from black to yellow to pink to green to white.

Non-traditional couples love sapphire engagement rings. They’re affordable, gorgeous, durable, and make a unique statement. Hoda Kotb was proposed to with a sapphire accented engagement ring.

Quick facts on the sapphire gemstone:

  • September birthstone
  • symbolizes sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility
  • 9 on the Mohs scale


Rubies may not actually be cheaper than diamonds. Fine, luxurious rubies are sometimes even more costly than their fellow precious stones.

Either way, they’re still a unique engagement ring alternative that will last a lifetime if properly cared for. They’re nearly indestructible at 9 on the Moz scale, which make a good choice for those in search of a durable option.

The four C’s also apply for rubies- cut, clarity, carat weight, and especially color! Look for a vibrant red hue and the clearest stone possible.

Quick facts on the ruby gemstone:

  • July birthstone
  •  associated with passion, devotion, courage and romance
  • 9 on the Mohs scale
  • often treated with heat to improve the color and heal cracks

Rose Quartz

What exactly is rose quartz, you ask? It’s a cloudy, almost translucent pink stone not historically associated with fine jewelry. But lately we’re seeing rose quartz paired with precious stones on more contemporary engagement rings.

Rose quartz was used in jewelry as early as 800 BC, and has since held significant meaning in Greek, Egyptian, and Roman history. It’s thought to contain healing properties for the heart, as well as protective energy for mothers and their unborn children.

When shopping for rose quartz, make sure to ask your jeweler about the purity.

Quick facts about rose quartz:

  • also known as the ‘Heart Stone’
  • meaning is tied to universal love and traditionally thought to hold healing properties
  • 7 on the Mohs scale


pearl alternative gemstone for engagement ring

Pearls aren’t a common alternative stone for engagement rings, but they’re gaining more traction every year. Even Emma Stone received a pearl engagement ring last year! Nothing says classic or iconic better than natural pearl jewelry, so it’s no wonder brides are turning to this stone as a diamond substitute.

Traditionally, pearls are most often worn in necklaces and earrings due to their delicate nature. They’re made of calcium carbonate that has crystalized in a shelled mollusc, most commonly know as a clam. They can be easily scratched or cracked.

If opting for a pearl engagement ring, just be careful and remove it for work outs, manual chores around the house, or for more hands on jobs.

Quick facts on pearls:

  • June birthstone
  • represents transparency, generosity, integrity, and loyalty
  • 2.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs scale


The Alexandrite gemstone is a rare color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Gemologists often call it the “emerald by day, ruby by night.” Daylight makes the gem appear an emerald color, but candlelight or fire light makes it appear a ruby red hue.

It can also present with a cat eye, which means a needle-like inclusion causes the light to reflect in a way that mimics a cat eye.

Because of it’s rarity, it’s not an economical choice. Most alexandrite comes from Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil, and present stones tend to display less-precise color change and muddier hues than the originally discovered nineteenth-century stones.

Vintage and estate jewelry are typically the best sources of the pure, color changing alexandrite gems.

Quick facts about Alexandrite gems:

  • June birthstone (along with the pearl)
  • traditionally a symbol of good fortune
  • 8.5 on the Mohs scale

Non-traditional diamonds

Technically a diamond shouldn’t be on a list of alternative gemstones for engagement rings, but there are lots of diamond options that break the traditional mold.

Check out these ideas to make your diamond engagement ring stand out:

  1. Opt for a fancy cut diamond. These diamonds create a more unique engagement ring feel. Emerald, pear, radiant, and cushion cut stones are some of the more popular fancy cut stones.
  2. Choose a unique color. Diamonds come in a variety of colors– steel gray, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink to purple, brown, and black.
  3. Consider an imperfect diamond. Imperfect diamonds are on the rise and progressive shoppers often seek them out. They lend a more wild, Earthy, and primitive feel that many are attracted to versus the perfectly, polished look. ‘Salt and pepper’ diamonds are a good example.
  4. One word– vintage. Vintage styles never die. Hand cut diamonds like that of the Old Mine cut are a conversation starter and perfect for those that want a unique engagement ring alternative.

If you’re in the market for an engagement ring– whether it’s a traditional diamond OR a unique, colored fancy shaped gemstone–  call Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers today to make an appointment and see our beautiful selection. Our in house jewelry designers can help you craft any design you can imagine. 

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